On the job injuries are often extremely serious. Victims may suffer burns from a piece of failed equipment, suffer a crushing injury due to a poorly trained forklift operator, or suffer injuries in a car accident while traveling on the road for work. These situations always leave victims wondering what rights they have under Oregon laws. A personal injury law firm in Central Oregon can help address your questions and concerns and make sure you understand your rights.
Worker’s Compensation Coverage for Oregon Employees
In Oregon, nearly all workers are covered by worker’s compensation insurance. This is because most employers who have more than one person in their employ are required to carry this coverage. Worker’s compensation is a form of “no fault” insurance. Regardless of who was responsible for an injury — an employer or employee — the claims are paid.
While this coverage typically covers a portion of your wages while you recover from your injuries, as well as customary medical expenses, in return, you sacrifice the right to sue your employer for additional damages. However, this does not mean you may not be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Circumstances Which Lend Themselves to Personal Injury Lawsuits
Despite your employer being shielded from a lawsuit for your injury and the associated losses, there are circumstances under which you may still have the right to file a lawsuit, even while collecting worker’s compensation benefits.
If you were injured because of negligent conduct on the part of a third party, you have the right to file a claim to recover the losses which are not covered by worker’s compensation. Some of the situations which lend themselves to these types of claims include:
- Car Accidents — if your job requires you to travel on Oregon roadways and you are in a car accident, you have the right to file a claim against the at-fault driver.
- Slip and Fall Accidents — if the job site you are working on is not owned by your employer and you slip and fall due to frayed carpeting, a broken handrail, or other hazard, you may have a premises liability claim.
- Other Accidents — if your injury was the result of an equipment failure, the party responsible for maintenance, or the manufacturer may be held liable in some cases.
These are just a few of the types of potential claims which are valid despite the fact the injury occurred at your place of work. If you can demonstrate a party other than your employer was responsible, or you feel an investigation could prove negligence on the part of a third party, then you should seek immediate legal advice from a personal injury lawyer.
Claims Against Third Parties Can be Challenging
It is important to understand third-party claims are often fraught with issues, which is why it is a good idea to seek legal assistance from an experienced personal injury lawyer in Bend. This will be one of the most important steps you take, and the sooner you do so, the better in the long run.
Because your injury or illness occurred in the workplace, and you are entitled to worker’s compensation, any claim you file with a third-party will likely be denied outright. This means you will need someone to advocate on your behalf.
Why Third-Party Claims Get Denied
There is a simple reason why, when you initially file a claim with a third-party who is responsible for causing you an injury, the claim is denied. Insurance company adjusters never want to acknowledge their customer is responsible — this is to protect their bottom line.
Because your injury occurred in the workplace, the insurer will naturally attempt to deflect the blame to your employer. This will occur even when an injury was caused in an accident which had nothing to do with your employer. Remember, most insurers feel that by denying a claim most people will not appeal their decision. This is why we typically recommend, before filing a claim, you work with a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon.
If you are working with an experienced personal injury lawyer and submit a claim, the documentation will come from your attorney. This may give the insurer reason to avoid denying your claim since they know you mean business.
Recovering Damages in Third-Party Claims
When you are collecting workers’ compensation benefits, your claim against a third party can help close the gap between your normal wages and your benefits. The claim can also include compensation for things worker’s compensation will not cover including:
- Medical bills which were not paid by workers’ compensation
- Pain and suffering due to your injury
- Expenses for someone to handle tasks in the home while you recover
Your claim may also include other losses such as benefits which you would normally be entitled to such as sick days, matching 401(k) funds, bonuses, and overtime. Since worker’s compensation is only meant to cover basic expenses, none of these are recoverable through your employer’s insurer.
What Steps to Take Following a Workplace Injury
You must file a worker’s compensation claim as soon as possible. Notify your employer about the injury, seek medical attention, and then file a claim with your employer’s insurer. You will have to use Form 801 Report of Job Injury or Illness which will be used to notify your employer. When seeking medical care, the physician will have to be notified you were injured on the job and they will need to file Form 827 Worker’s and Health Care Provider’s Report for Workers’ Compensation Claims within 72 hours of your visit.
Once these forms have been filed, you should immediately contact a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon. This will help protect you in the event your worker’s compensation claim is denied. You will have the right to appeal, but there is a time limit for doing so. In the meantime, your personal injury lawyer can help prepare a third-party claim.
Steele Law Firm is committed to helping personal injury accident victims recover financially following an injury. You can contact Steel Law Firm by filling out a convenient online contact form or by calling 541-647-1812 and scheduling a free, no obligation case review.