2011 ORS § 656.308¹
Responsibility for payment of claims
  • effect of new injury
  • denial of responsibility
  • procedure for joining employers and insurers
  • attorney fees
  • limitation on filing claims subject to settlement agreement

(1) When a worker sustains a compensable injury, the responsible employer shall remain responsible for future compensable medical services and disability relating to the compensable condition unless the worker sustains a new compensable injury involving the same condition. If a new compensable injury occurs, all further compensable medical services and disability involving the same condition shall be processed as a new injury claim by the subsequent employer. The standards for determining the compensability of a combined condition under ORS 656.005 (Definitions) (7) shall also be used to determine the occurrence of a new compensable injury or disease under this section.

(2)(a) Any insurer or self-insured employer who disputes responsibility for a claim shall so indicate in or as part of a denial otherwise meeting the requirements of ORS 656.262 (Processing of claims and payment of compensation) issued in the 60 days allowed for processing of the claim. The denial shall advise the worker to file separate, timely claims against other potentially responsible insurers or self-insured employers, including other insurers for the same employer, in order to protect the right to obtain benefits on the claim. The denial may list the names and addresses of other insurers or self-insured employers. Such denials shall be final unless the worker files a timely request for hearing pursuant to ORS 656.319 (Time within which hearing must be requested). All such requests for hearing shall be consolidated into one proceeding.

(b) No insurer or self-insured employer, including other insurers for the same employer, shall be joined to any workers compensation hearing unless the worker has first filed a timely, written claim against that insurer or self-insured employer, or the insurer or self-insured employer has consented to issuance of an order designating a paying agent pursuant to ORS 656.307 (Determination of issues regarding responsibility for compensation payment). An insurer or self-insured employer against whom a claim is filed may contend that responsibility lies with another insurer or self-insured employer, including another insurer for the same employer, regardless of whether the worker has filed a claim against that insurer or self-insured employer.

(c) Upon written notice by an insurer or self-insured employer filed not more than 28 days or less than 14 days before the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge shall dismiss that party from the proceeding if the record does not contain substantial evidence to support a finding of responsibility against that party. The Administrative Law Judge shall decide such motions and inform the parties not less than seven days prior to the hearing, or postpone the hearing.

(d) Notwithstanding ORS 656.382 (Penalties and attorney fees payable by insurer or employer in processing claim) (2), 656.386 (Recovery of attorney fees, expenses and costs in appeal on denied claim) and 656.388 (Approval of attorney fees required), a reasonable attorney fee shall be awarded to the attorney for the injured worker for the attorneys appearance and active and meaningful participation in finally prevailing against a responsibility denial. The fee shall not exceed $2,500 absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances. The maximum attorney fee awarded under this paragraph shall be adjusted annually on July 1 by the same percentage increase as made to the average weekly wage defined in ORS 656.211 (Average weekly wage defined), if any.

(3) A worker who is a party to an approved disputed claim settlement agreement under ORS 656.289 (Orders of Administrative Law Judge) (4) may not subsequently file a claim against an insurer or a self-insured employer who is a party to the agreement with regard to claim conditions settled in the agreement even if other insurers or employers disclaim responsibility for those claim conditions. A worker who is a party to an approved claim disposition agreement under ORS 656.236 (Compromise and release of claim matters except for medical benefits) (1) may not subsequently file a claim against an insurer or a self-insured employer who is a party to the agreement with regard to any matter settled in the agreement even if other insurers or employers disclaim responsibility for those claim conditions, unless the claim in the subsequent proceeding is limited to a claim for medical services for claim conditions settled in the agreement. [1990 c.2 §49; 1995 c.332 §37; 2001 c.865 §8; 2009 c.526 §2]

Note: See notes under 656.202 (Compensation payable to subject worker in accordance with law in effect at time of injury).