Saturday, October 9, 2010

Worker's Compensation

There are about 12,000 lawyers in the state of Oregon.  Only 30 practice Worker's Compensation (hereafter "WC") law.  This area of the law in Oregon is a BEAST.  I kid you not.  I do not know whether I love it, hate it, fear it, or respect it.  The one thing I understand clearly is that it is often not fair.  The payouts on serious injuries are hard to get, the insurance companies are hostile to workers (most think the worker is faking it), and a host of other issues.

What boggles my mind the most is this:  WC is a carved out section of Torts law.  For instance, with both intentional torts and negligence, the defendant takes the plaintiff as they find him.  So if you injure someone, but they had a pre-existing injury, or some condition that made them more fragile -- that did not matter.  You are liable and you pay.  Not so with WC.  Not so at all.  I see the policy reasons why you would not want a system where every injury is a large payout.... Employers need to be able to afford WC insurance.

The other thing that bothers me is that people do not understand that the worker, if injured, should retain a lawyer.  There is no retainer fee -- lawyers fees are dictated by statute.  And they only pay out if the worker wins.  If you are unrepresented, you run the risk of the insurer running right over you.

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