Hearing Division Summary head


The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board received 11,059 requests for hearing in 1998, a decrease of 1.8 percent from 1997. This count includes 909 stipulations received without a prior hearing request. The worker requested the hearing in 88.9 percent of the cases (excludes “joint” requests), the smallest percentage on record.


In 1998 there were 11,294 closing orders, about 3.3 percent fewer than the previous year.

Notes: This report excludes safety cases. The data below, except Figure 1, include only cases involving compensation to the worker, so cases dealing solely with noncomplying status or civil penalty are excluded. Discussions of issue relative frequency and dispositions apply to opinion and order and stipulation (includes disputed claim settlement) cases.


Figure 1

There were 2,710 cases closed by O&O, 24.1 percent of all cases. Stipulations closed 5,525 cases (49.2 percent), the highest percentage since 1991. Dismissals and withdrawals closed 3,000 cases (26.7 percent), the lowest percentage since 1993.

SAIF was the insurer in 31.8 percent of the cases, the seventh consecutive record-low percentage. Private insurers accounted for 58.5 percent, the highest percentage on record, while self-insured employers had 9.3 percent of the cases. (A few insurers are coded as “multiple” or are missing.)


Figure 2 depicts the numbers of issues resolved at hearings. Claim denial was the most frequentFigure 2 issue (as it has been every year since 1988), with 42.9 percent of all cases. The percentage of cases with the issue of partial denial was 33.4 percent, close to 1996’s record-high 34.4 percent. Extent of temporary disability was involved in 3.9 percent of cases, tying 1995’s record low value. (The attorney fee issue is excluded from the other-issue count for 1998 due to unreliable data.)


Permanent disability

The number of cases dealing with permanent disability dropped to a record-low 626, 25.8 percent fewer than the previous year. Other record-low statistics were the 7.6 percentage of cases with this issue, 40.3 percentage of cases granting an increased award (the previous low value was 1997’s 49.4 percent), six permanent total disability (PTD) grants, and $0.739 million net PPD awarded (41.1 percent less than in 1997, Figure 3). Two of the PTD grants were by stipulation; there were no PTD rescissions (see Figure 4). The average PPD increases were 13.2 scheduled degrees, 25.0 unscheduled degrees, and 19.3 degrees combined.

Figure 3

Figure 4

Issue dispositions

The percentages of O&O cases decided in favor of the worker were as follows:

The favorable rate for aggravation was the lowest on record. For the disability issues, the rates reflect award increases (30.0* and 62.2 percent, respectively, for permanent and temporary disability), plus insurer or employer hearing requests when the disability award was affirmed.
* Lowest value on record.

Disputed claim settlements

Figure 5 depicts the total value of DCSs, amounts paid to workers as consideration for not contesting a denial. The 3,921 DCS cases constituted 71.0 percent of all stipulations and 34.9 percent of all orders, the latter a record-high percentage. DCSs accounted for 75.7 percent of all hearings denied claims (excludes aggravations). 1998 DCSs included claimant attorney fees of over $4 million, 45.2 percent of all such fees at hearings (another record-high value). The average DCS amount was $5,190, almost 5.3 percent greater than in 1997.

Figure 5

Time lags

For all O&O cases, the median time from hearing request to order was 160 days (5.3 months), 5 days longer than for 1997. For O&O cases without a postponement, the median request-to-order time was only 121 days (4.0 months).

Attorney fees

Fees awarded to workers’ attorneys totaled about $8.9 million, 4.1 percent more than in 1997. The average fee was $1,508 (combined out-of-compensation and assessed), 4.2 percent greater than for 1997. About 48.7 percent of all fees were paid out of worker compensation.

Mediation activity

In 1998 administrative law judges completed 233 mediations in order to settle disputes without formal litigation. About 90.1 percent of these mediations resulted in settlement, and 87 percent of the settlements were in the form of a DCS. The average mediation required 13.8 work-hours on the part of the judge.

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If you have questions about the information contained in this document please contact by e-mail or phone: Russell Reed, Research Analyst, Research & Analysis Section, Information Management Division (503) 947-7343.

This document was originally published in February.
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