Oregon’s workers compensation system is in many respects far too complex. If you are familiar, at all, with Rube Goldberg’s creations (and one of those would be the mouse trap game that many of us played while growing up), then you will understand when I say that this workers compensation system is a Rube Goldberg construction. The statute has been frequently amended, but very rarely has it been overhauled. As a consequence, it can be very difficult to navigate the system for injured workers and their doctors.
I am attaching two links for two cases that this office recently won demonstrating just how complicated this system can be. In both cases, the decision from the Workers Compensation Board was reversed, and it was remanded to the Board to render a new decision. The first case, Arms v. SAIF, the litigation started in 2010 and it is not yet completely decided. In the second case (the earlier case), Fred Meyer v. DeBoard, the litigation hasn’t been going on as long, but Judge Armstrong in the first paragraph was very critical of our statute and by inference, our legislature. What he said was, “Although this Workers Compensation case does not involve angels dancing on pinheads, it does involve dancing around medical terms and an emphasis on hyper-technicality that has unnecessarily delayed the resolution of what should have been a straight-forward new/omitted medical condition claim.”
The takeaway from this is to first get into a lawyer on the issue rather than starting off the program on your own (Ms. DeBoard and her doctor filed the new or omitted condition claim which led to the difficulties in this case without input of a lawyer), and understand that if you’re going to litigate a case, you could be at it for a long, long time.