PORTLAND and PENDLETON, Oregon. Workers rely on worker’s compensation benefits to serve as an important safety net to protect them and their families. Despite the importance of worker’s compensation benefits, state worker’s compensation programs are not overseen by the federal government. According to a recent report by the Labor Department, workers are at risk of facing poverty due to the inability of many state’ worker’s compensation programs to provide proper benefits.
The report noted several barriers posed to workers who are seeking worker’s compensation benefits. In some cases, claims that would have been accepted are being denied. Benefits are being reduced, and in some areas, individuals are being restricted to seeing doctors selected by employers. In some cases, workers face retaliation and other barriers to making claims in the first place. The end result of many of these changes is that families may face the burden of paying for a loved one’s medical expenses on their own.
According to NPR, workers across the country have lost their homes, were denied prosthetic devices, and in some cases, were even denied important medical care. As a result of these large scale gaps in coverage for injured workers, the Labor Department is evaluating whether the federal government needs to play a role in overseeing worker’s compensation standards, benefits, and claims.
Because worker’s compensation laws vary from state to state, Oregon citizens may not always be aware of their rights and responsibilities. According to the Oregon government, workers have the right to file a claim and should not face retaliation for doing so. Workers have the right to either use their own doctor or the doctors listed under the employee’s worker’s compensation insurance policy. Finally, workers have the right to appeal a denied worker’s compensation claim. Unfortunately, when workers face pushback from their employers or when they face denial of their claims, they may not always know what steps to take to protect their rights. If you are facing difficulty filing a worker’s compensation claim, a lawyer may be able to help you. The attorneys at Campbell House, & Cummins, may be able to assist you and your loved ones in appealing a denied claim.
Currently, the Labor Department is working to see whether the federal government should set standards regarding minimum benefits. The value of serious injuries can vary widely, depending on where a person lives. In states where worker’s compensation benefits don’t meet individual and family needs, families often have to turn to Medicare and Social Security, putting the burden on taxpayers to pay for injuries that occur on the job. Any attempt to give the federal government more oversight of worker’s compensation is likely to be resisted by some states, by worker’s compensation insurance groups, and by employers.
As it stands, Oregon’s laws and protections for workers remain fairly robust when compared to the country as a whole. However, workers may still face claim denials. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, it is important to protect your rights.