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The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board received 11,084 requests for hearing in 1999, a slight 0.2 percent increase over 1998. This count includes 897 stipulations received without a prior hearing request. The worker requested the hearing in 88.4 percent of the cases (excludes “joint” requests).


In 1999 there were 10,846 closing orders, about 3.8 percent fewer than the previous year and the fewest since 1980.

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 non-complying 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.

There were 2,561 cases closed by O&O, 23.6 percent of all cases. Stipulations closed 5,254 cases (48.5 percent), while dismissals and withdrawals closed 3,022 cases (27.9 percent).

SAIF was the insurer in 30.5 percent of the cases, the eighth consecutive record-low percentage.

Figure 1. Hearing requests & cases closed


Figure 2 depicts the numbers of issues resolved at hearings. Claim denial was the most frequent issue (as it has been every year since 1988), with 42.5 percent of all cases. The Figure 2. Hearings issues decided, 1999percentage of cases with the issue of partial denial was 33.9 percent, close to 1996’s record-high 34.4 percent. Extent of temporary disability was involved in a record-low 3.7 percent of cases.

Permanent disability

The number of cases dealing with permanent disability dropped to a record-low 606, 3.2 percent fewer than the previous year. The percentage of cases with this issue was 7.8 percent, up from 1998’s record-low 7.6 percent. Hearings orders granted five permanent total disability (PTD) awards (the fewest on record) and awarded a net $0.335 million in permanent partial disability (PPD), less than half that awarded in 1998. See Figures 3 and 4. Three of the PTD grants were by stipulation. There were two PTD rescissions.

Figure 3. Net hearings PPD awards
Figure 4.  hearings PTD grants

The percentage of cases granting an increase in permanent disability was 41.1 percent, an increase over the record-low 40.3 percent of 1998. The average PPD increases were 11.1 scheduled degrees, 23.9 unscheduled degrees, and 17.8 degrees combined.

Issue dispositions

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

1998 (%)
1999 (%)
Permanent disability
Temporary disability
Claim denial
Aggravation denial
Partial denial 45.4
Premature closure
Insurer penalty


The favorable rate for claim denial was the same as in 1998, which was the third lowest on record. The rate for aggravation was over three percentage points above 1998’s record low value. On the other hand, the rate for partial denial was the highest since 1993. For the disability issues, the rates reflect award increases (32.3 and 48.1 percent, respectively, for permanent and temporary disability in 1999), plus insurer or employer hearing requests when the disability award was affirmed.

Disputed claim settlements

Figure 5 depicts the total value of DCSs, amounts paid to workers as consideration for not contesting a denial. The 3,721 DCS cases constituted 70.8 percent of all stipulations andFigure 5. DCS amounts 34.3 percent of all orders, both near-record-high percentages. DCSs accounted for 77.4percent of all hearings denied claims (excludes aggravations). DCSs in 1999 included claimant attorney fees of over $3.8 million, 44.7 percent of all fees at hearings. The average DCS amount was $5,265, almost 1.5 percent greater than in 1998.

Time lags

For all O&O cases, the median time from hearing request to order was 170 days (5.6 months), 10 days longer than for 1998 and the longest since 1987. For O&O cases without a postponement, the median request-to-order time was only 129 days (4.2 months). For all order types, the median time was 124 days. (Note: These lag times include time that the record was kept open, post hearing; such times were most frequently 0 days, but the median was 3 days and the mean, 40 days.)

Attorney fees

Fees awarded to workers’ attorneys totaled about $8.5 million, 3.7 percent less than in 1998. The average fee was $1,549 (combined out-of-compensation and assessed), 2.7 percent greater than for 1998. About 48.8 percent of all hearings fees were paid out of worker compensation.

Mediation activity

In 1999 administrative law judges completed 216 mediations in order to settle disputes without formal litigation. About 90 percent of these mediations resulted in settlement, and 84 percent of the settlements were in the form of a DCS. The average mediation required over 13 work-hours on the part of the judge. Over 37 percent of the mediations were about psychological disease claims and almost 46 percent included non-workers’ compensation issues.


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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.
[Printed form: 440-2106(02/01/IMD)]

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