Posted by Tom L on June 17, 1999 at 11:25:50:
The Oregon Court of Appeals has issued yet another decision harmful to Injured workers.
This time however the court has had to acknowledge that the results forced upon it by the Oregon Legislature
don't even make sense.
In Alcantar-Baca v. Liberty Northwest Ins Corp and in a companion case Shaw v. Paccar Wagner Mining, The Court of Appeals
held that when a workers comp claim is classified as "Nondisabiling" a request to reclassify the claim must be made
within a year of the date of injury regardless what absurdities result from application of this rule.
The label "Nondisabling" means an insurer or self insured employer must pay only medical benefits.It also means that the employer
or self-insured employer does not have to pay temporary disability (Time Loss) or permanent disability benefits.
Insurers typically accept claims as nondisabiling when at the time of acceptance the worker has not lost time from work, even though the medical records
show that the worker probably will have some permanent disability. Insurers also accept claims as "Nondisabiling" when the claimant
does not have an authorization for time loss at the time of acceptance. To boil this down, Insurers have accepted claims as nondisabiling where
claimants have missed work but don't have a form signed by a doctor authorizing time loss.
If a injured worker feels that a claim was improperly accepted as nondisabiling they must request RECLASSIFICATION. The law says that the request
must be made within a year of the date of injury. If the request is not made in that time the worker must prove that his or her condition
has worsened. ( an aggravation claim).
Insurers purposefully accept claims as nondisabiling in hopes that more that a year will pass from the date of injury without the worker finding out that the
classification matters. Once the year passes the insurer is all but free of the risk of having to pay disability benefits.
The decisions in Alcantar-Baca and Shaw invite insurers and employers to step-up this abuse.
In Alcantar-Baca, The Court of Appeals said: " No matter how implausable its application may be in certain circumstances [ The Workers Compensation Act] is
unambiguous." From the appellate court judge the word "implausible" is strong language.
Reasonable minded people agree that a system of laws should not require absurd results. The legislature should stop listening to people like
KEVIN MANNIX and the insurance lobby and start writing laws that MAKE SENSE.
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