Oregon Statutes - Chapter 656 - Workers' Compensation - Section 656.283 - Hearing rights and procedure; rules; modification of vocational assistance actions; impeachment evidence; use of standards for evaluation of disability.
(1) Subject to ORS 656.319, any party or the Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services may at any time request a hearing on any matter concerning a claim, except matters for which a procedure for resolving the dispute is provided in another statute, including ORS 656.704.
(2)(a) The Legislative Assembly finds that vocational rehabilitation of injured workers requires a high degree of cooperation between all of the participants in the vocational assistance process. Based on this finding, the Legislative Assembly concludes that disputes regarding eligibility for and extent of vocational assistance services should be resolved through nonadversarial procedures to the greatest extent possible consistent with constitutional principles. The director is hereby charged with the duty of creating a procedure for resolving vocational assistance disputes in the manner provided in this subsection.
(b) If a worker is dissatisfied with an action of the insurer or self-insured employer regarding vocational assistance, the worker must apply to the director for administrative review of the matter. Such application must be made not later than the 60th day after the date the worker was notified of the action. The director shall complete the review within a reasonable time. If the worker’s dissatisfaction is resolved by agreement of the parties, the agreement shall be reduced to writing, and the director and the parties shall review the agreement and either approve or disapprove it. If the worker’s dissatisfaction is not resolved by agreement of the parties, the director shall resolve the matter in a written order containing findings of fact and conclusions of law. The order shall be based on a record sufficient to permit review under paragraph (c) of this subsection. For purposes of this subsection, the term “parties” does not include a noncomplying employer.
(c) Director approval of an agreement resolving a vocational assistance matter shall be subject to reconsideration by the director under limitations prescribed by the director, but shall not be subject to review by any other forum. When the director issues an order after review under paragraph (b) of this subsection, the order shall be subject to review under ORS 656.704. At the contested case hearing, the decision of the director’s administrative review shall be modified only if it:
(A) Violates a statute or rule;
(B) Exceeds the statutory authority of the agency;
(C) Was made upon unlawful procedure; or
(D) Was characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.
(d) An appeal of the director’s administrative review under paragraph (b) of this subsection must be made within 60 days of the review issue date.
(3) A request for hearing may be made by any writing, signed by or on behalf of the party and including the address of the party, requesting the hearing, stating that a hearing is desired, and mailed to the Workers’ Compensation Board.
(4)(a) The board shall refer the request for hearing to an Administrative Law Judge for determination as expeditiously as possible. The hearing shall be scheduled for a date not more than 90 days after receipt by the board of the request for hearing. The hearing may not be postponed:
(A) Except in extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the requesting party; and
(B) For more than 120 days after the date of the postponed hearing.
(b) When a hearing set pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection is postponed because of the need to join one or more potentially responsible employers or insurers, the assigned Administrative Law Judge shall reschedule the hearing as expeditiously as possible after all potentially responsible employers and insurers have been joined in the proceeding and the medical record has been fully developed. The board shall adopt rules for hearings on claims involving one or more potentially responsible employers and insurers that:
(A) Require the parties to participate in any prehearing conferences required to expedite the hearing; and
(B) Authorize the Administrative Law Judge conducting the hearing to:
(i) Establish a prehearing schedule for investigation of the claim, including but not limited to the interviewing of the claimant;
(ii) Make prehearing rulings necessary to promote full discovery and completion of the medical record required for determination of the issues arising from the claim; and
(iii) Specify what is required of the claimant to meet the obligation to reasonably cooperate with the investigation of claims.
(c) Nothing in paragraph (b) of this subsection alters the obligation of an insurer or self-insured employer to accept or deny a claim for compensation as required under this chapter.
(d) If a hearing has been postponed in accordance with paragraph (b) of this subsection:
(A) The director may not consider the timeliness of a denial issued in the claim that is the subject of the hearing for the purpose of imposing a penalty against an insurer or self-insured employer that is potentially responsible for the claim; and
(B) The 120-day maximum postponement established under paragraph (a) of this subsection for rescheduling a hearing does not apply.
(5)(a) At least 60 days’ prior notice of the time and place of hearing shall be given to all parties in interest by mail. Hearings shall be held in the county where the worker resided at the time of the injury or such other place selected by the Administrative Law Judge.
(b) The 60-day prior notice required by paragraph (a) of this subsection:
(A) May be waived by agreement of the parties and the board if waiver of the notice will result in an earlier date for the hearing.
(B) Does not apply to hearings in cases assigned to the Expedited Claim Service under ORS 656.291, cases involving stayed compensation under ORS 656.313 (1)(b) and requests for hearing that are consolidated with an existing case with an existing hearing date.
(6) A record of all proceedings at the hearing shall be kept but need not be transcribed unless a party requests a review of the order of the Administrative Law Judge. Transcription shall be in written form as provided by ORS 656.295 (3).
(7) Except as otherwise provided in this section and rules of procedure established by the board, the Administrative Law Judge is not bound by common law or statutory rules of evidence or by technical or formal rules of procedure, and may conduct the hearing in any manner that will achieve substantial justice. Neither the board nor an Administrative Law Judge may prevent a party from withholding impeachment evidence until the opposing party’s case in chief has been presented, at which time the impeachment evidence may be used. Impeachment evidence consisting of medical or vocational reports not used during the course of a hearing must be provided to any opposing party at the conclusion of the presentation of evidence and before closing arguments are presented. Impeachment evidence other than medical or vocational reports that is not presented as evidence at hearing is not subject to disclosure. Evaluation of the worker’s disability by the Administrative Law Judge shall be as of the date of issuance of the reconsideration order pursuant to ORS 656.268. Any finding of fact regarding the worker’s impairment must be established by medical evidence that is supported by objective findings. The Administrative Law Judge shall apply to the hearing of the claim such standards for evaluation of disability as may be adopted by the director pursuant to ORS 656.726. Evidence on an issue regarding a notice of closure that was not submitted at the reconsideration required by ORS 656.268 is not admissible at hearing, and issues that were not raised by a party to the reconsideration may not be raised at hearing unless the issue arises out of the reconsideration order itself. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent or limit the right of a worker, insurer or self-insured employer to present the reconsideration record at hearing to establish by a preponderance of that evidence that the standards adopted pursuant to ORS 656.726 for evaluation of the worker’s permanent disability were incorrectly applied in the reconsideration order pursuant to ORS 656.268. If the Administrative Law Judge finds that the claim has been closed prematurely, the Administrative Law Judge shall issue an order rescinding the notice of closure.
(8) Any party shall be entitled to issuance and service of subpoenas under the provisions of ORS 656.726 (2)(c). Any party or representative of the party may serve such subpoenas.
(9) After a party requests a hearing and before the hearing commences, the board, by rule, may require the requesting party, if represented by an attorney, to notify the Administrative Law Judge in writing that the attorney has conferred with the other party and that settlement has been achieved, subject to board approval, or that settlement cannot be achieved. [1965 c.285 §34; 1979 c.839 §7; 1981 c.535 §33; 1981 c.860 §§1,5; 1985 c.600 §9; 1987 c.884 §11; 1990 c.2 §20; 1995 c.332 §34; 1999 c.313 §7; 2003 c.667 §2; 2005 c.26 §11; 2005 c.624 §1]
Note: See notes under 656.202.Section: Previous 656.274 656.275 656.276 656.277 656.278 656.280 656.282 656.283 656.284 656.285 656.287 656.288 656.289 656.290 656.291 Next
Last modified: August 7, 2008