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January 2011 Archives

The Court of Appeals concludes short term disability payments cannot be offset against temporary disability benefits

The Oregon Court of Appeals issued a decision that will help injured workers who receive both short term disability (STD) payments and temporary partial disability (TPD) payments. In Safeway Stores, Inc. v. Martinez 239 Or App 224 (December 1, 2010) the court affirmed the Board's order in Anita M. Martinez, 60 Van Natta 1937 (2008) which had held that a carrier was not authorized to offset claimant's STD payments against her TPD benefits because STD payments neither constituted "wages" nor "sick leave." For those injured workers who are suddenly unable to work, STD payments and TPD benefits are often the only means to stay afloat financially while trying to get back to work. By not allowing workers' compensation insurance companies to offset TPD benefits when injured workers are receiving STD payments the Court of Appeals allowed injured workers to receive all the benefits they are entitled to when injured. If you have a question about temporary partial disability payments, or what benefits you may be entitled to when you are injured, please call Martin L. Alvey P.C.

The Supreme Court defines the meaning of arthritis in Hopkins

Injured workers call into our office frequently with questions about their "combined condition" denial. A combined condition denial is often confusing for injured workers, who have their workers' compensation benefits suddenly cut off because insurance companies decide that the major cause of their condition is no longer (or never was) an otherwise compensable injury, but instead caused in major part by a "preexisting condition." The recent Oregon Supreme Court decision in Hopkins v. SAIF, 349 OR 348 (December 9, 2010), may have made things that much tougher for injured workers by concluding that the legislature did not limit the term "arthritis" to a particular form of "arthritis." In Hopkins, the Supreme Court held that, in defining a "preexisting condition," the legislature intended the term "arthritis" to mean the inflammation of one or more joints, due to infectious, metabolic, or constitutional causes, and resulting in breakdown, degeneration, or structural change. In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court disagreed with claimant's argument that "arthritis" should be limited to inflammation of moveable (or "freely articulating") joints. With this definition of arthritis, the Supreme Court went on to affirm the Board's conclusion that Ms. Hopkins had preexisting arthritis. If you are an injured worker and have received a denial, whether it is for a combined condition or otherwise, please call Martin L. Alvey P.C. to discuss your claim.

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