Governor's Group Reaches Agreement on Workers' Comp Reforms

Author Subject: Governor's Group Reaches Agreement on Workers' Comp Reforms
Webmaster Posted At 22:41:19 05/18/2000
Governor's Group Reaches Agreement on Workers' Comp Reforms…A labor-management group
convened by Gov. John Kitzhaber has reached agreement on changes to the workers' comp system
that represent the first pro-worker reforms of that system in at least 10 years.

"These are not reforms that will fix all the problems with the workers' comp system," said Tim Nesbitt,
who with Ken Allen (AFSCME Council 75) and Bob Shiprack (Oregon State Building Trades) represented labor
on the committee, "but, as a whole, these changes will reverse the steady erosion of rights and benefits for injured workers
that we have witnessed during the last 10 years. We are shifting the pendulum back a couple of notches toward a more fair and
adequate system of compensation for injured workers."

The package of changes was recommended by all six labor and management members of the Governor's group and was ratified by a
unanimous vote of the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board last night. The changes will be drafted as legislation for the next session of the legislature.

The most significant changes include: Compensability
Eliminating "predisposition" as a basis for denying benefits; and,
Shifting the burden of proof from the worker to the employer in the event of a workplace incident,
which means that employer would have to prove that the workplace incident was not the cause of a worker's disability.
Benefits Expanding access to benefits after expiration of the five-year aggravation period;
Increasing the cap on time loss (TTD) benefits from 100% of Oregon's average weekly wage to 133%;
Increasing compensation for injured workers who hold multiple jobs to reflect time lost from all covered employment;
Reducing the timeline for accepting or denying a claim from 90 to 60 days; and,
Expanding the circumstances when workers can refuse light duty assignments.
Adjudication of Claims
Restructuring the Insurer Medical Examination (IME) system to require
certification of IME doctors by the Workers Comp Division and to require insurers
to give workers a choice of three different doctors when referred to an IME.

Also, as part of the package, employers got two things they wanted:
A five-year time limit on new condition claims (same as aggravation rights), but
we preserved benefits for new condition claims after five years by shifting them to,
and expanding the benefits available for, the Workers' Comp Board's "own motion" authority
to approve the reopening of claims; and, Modification of the Employer Liability Act (ELA).
The ELA allows workers to seek damage awards for workplace injuries in multi-employer settings
where an employer (other than the direct employer) was responsible in whole or in part for an injury.

The change recommended is to require ELA claims to be based on the "contributory negligence" standard,
which means claimants have to prove that a defendant employer is more than 50% responsible for an injury.
For a complete summary of the package, call Sue Harrison at 503-585-6320.

This is very encouraging news, Keep in mind however that these reform have to go before the Legislature
Workplace Injured with the rest of our coalition memebers will keep a close eye on these "Proposed Changes".
unknown Re: Governor's Group Reaches Agreement on Workers' Comp Reforms (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 09:06:32 05/23/2000

When are you people going to realize...This is all a smoke screen to make everybody be silent...
This FISH GOVERNOR DOES NOT give a DAMNED about us, nor will he ever...We are all just pawns he can trade off for his FISH and HIGHWAYS!!

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