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Portland Workers Compensation Law Blog

ORS 20.080 - Gaining an advantage when an offer is unfair.

I frequently have victims of an accident call me regarding bodily injury or property damage claims who feel they are not being dealt with fairly by the insurance company. Victims who feel forced to accept low offers to settle their claims. But there is a tool that gives victims some leverage in negotiations. ORS 20.080 - and this post is a brief primer on how the statute works.
ORS 20.080 provides that in claims for less than $10,000 if a thirty-day demand letter is set to the responsible party and is not paid, and the victim gets a lawyer and files a lawsuit, the responsible party has to pay the amount originally owed plus attorney fees and costs. Insurance companies usually respond to these claims quickly, because if the victim has to hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit and wins the case, then the amount awarded for attorney fees and costs may exceed the amount owed in the first place.
I usually recommend that the demand letter and all associated documents be sent to both the at fault driver and the insurance company in two ways: by first class mail and also by certified mail, return receipt requested. The demand letter should mention ORS 20.080, allow 30 days for a response with the threat of a lawsuit at that time, and explain that attorney fees may be awarded if the jury gives a higher verdict than the offer made within 30 days. Often times taking full advantage of this letter is achieved by having an attorney at every stage in the process.
Even if you have a smaller case, you should speak with a lawyer to help you determine if you need an attorney. Because I work on a contingency fee, I do not take cases unless I think we can win and I try to provide honest evaluations. ORS 20.080 claims can get much more complicated, so if you have questions and think I can help, please call.
Below, is a link to the statutory provision in its entirety. http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/20.080 

The Men of Atalissa

This heartbreaking documentary tells the story of a group of men with intellectual disabilities who were exploited by the company they worked for while living in a small town in Iowa. Produced by the New York Times, it's only 30 minutes long, but it impacted me on a number of different levels. These men worked in extremely strenuous and dangerous positions with little to no money to show for their efforts. The company provided housing was so terrible, I had to turn away from the screen when they started showing pictures of the inside of the house. As an attorney who represents both workers and the disabled, I was deeply affected by this film. The main take away for me was that we as a society need to pay more attention to possible abuses and not be afraid to act to help each other. You can watch the documentary here: http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000002757071/the-men-of-atalissa.html

Martin Alvey profiled in the Oregon Bar Bulletin

Alvey Law Group is in the news again! The December 2013 issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin ran a profile of Martin entitled "Aiming for the Stars: Martin Alvey Finds Satisfaction Looking Up."  For those of you that may not know, Martin is an avid amateur astronomer.  He attends the Oregon Star Party every year and is already gearing up for this year's trip.  The article also ran a color photo of Martin with his GIANT 18-inch reflector telescope.

FAQ: I got hurt on the job and it was not my fault. Can I sue my employer for negligence?

The short answer is "probably not." Which deserves a better explanation.

Alvey Law Group in the News

Alvey Law Group has had a busy couple of months.  With Martin Alvey becoming President of the Oregon Trial Lawyer's Association, the December Sidebar newsletter is full of pictures and articles referencing him.  Check out his President's message to learn about his goals as President of OTLA for the current year.  

Attorney Fee Inequality: An Access to Justice Issue for Injured Workers

When I meet potential workers' compensation clients for the first time, often the first question asked is about attorney fees.  This is understandable because injured workers often do not have the money to pay for an attorney.  All potential clients are relieved to hear that I am paid on a contingency fee basis, which means that my fee is contingent on doing something positive for their case.  This often means prevailing at hearing.

Third-Party Liens: How to maximize results

Oregon Workers' Compensation Law allows an injured worker to bring a cause of action against a person or corporation who is not the employer of the injured worker and who is not a co-worker.  A third-party case can be valuable and important to an injured worker in seeking just compensation. Unfortunately, a workers' compensation insurer can attach a lien to any money recovered from a third-party.  This often leads to an injured worker getting substantially less money in his/her pocket.

Trail Lawyer Article: President's Message

As the current President of the Oregon Trial Lawyer's Association (OTLA), one of Martin's many tasks include writing a President's message in the quarterly magazine, Trial Lawyer Magazine.  In this article, Martin discusses his roots in Coos Bay and how it has helped him as a trial attorney.  From working as a "red-hat" in the Weyerhauser sawmill in North Bend to being elected as a the President of OTLA, Martin has seen the perspective of workers from both sides.

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