Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Oregon
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Oregon workers' compensation insurance

Oregon workers’ compensation law requires coverage for every employee, whether full- or part-time. Workers’ compensation provides medical benefits and partial lost wages for a person who’s been injured on the job.

Who needs workers’ comp insurance in Oregon?

If your small business has employees, you need to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Oregon.

Independent contractors do not need coverage, but Oregon employers who hire independent contractors need to make sure that they meet the legal description. The courts have looked at these, and other questions, to determine whether a person is an independent contractor:

  • Do you control or direct how the work is performed?
  • Is the worker paid hourly, commission-based, by the job, or otherwise?
  • Do you supply tools, supplies, or equipment that the person uses to complete the job?
  • Could you fire the worker without breaching a contract?

If you’re not sure that someone is an independent contractor, seek advice from a workers’ compensation consultant to answer your questions.

Do you need workers’ compensation insurance in Oregon if you are self-employed?

Sole proprietors in Oregon are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance, though they can choose to purchase it. It's always a good idea to carry workers' comp, as health insurance plans can deny claims for injuries related to work.

Corporate officers: Usually, a corporate officer is not required to have workers’ compensation coverage if they also serve on the board and own at least 10% of the stock in the company. A construction company can have no more than two exempt officers unless it’s a family-run business.

Limited liability company members: Generally, a member of an LLC is exempt from workers’ compensation requirements in Oregon. These people would follow the same rules and exemptions as corporate officers.

However, if individuals are working under contracts for a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC, they must also be considered independent contractors to be exempt.

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in Oregon?

Male business owner calculating number of employees and other factors

Estimated employer rates for workers’ compensation in Oregon are $1 per $100 in covered payroll. Your cost is based on a number of factors, including:

  • Payroll
  • Location
  • Number of employees
  • Industry and risk factors
  • Coverage limits
  • Claims history

How are workers' compensation insurance rates determined in Oregon?

The National Council on Compensation Insurance sets premium rates for different job classifications, based on their amount of risk. The rates are subject to approval by the Oregon Commissioner of Insurance.

Under the NCCI system, an employee in a high-risk industry, such as landscaping, would have a higher workers' comp rate than a software developer or other worker with a desk job. This rate is used in an equation that takes into account other variables, such as the employer's claims history.

How does workers' compensation work in Oregon?

The Oregon workers' compensation system ensures coverage of medical expenses for workplace injuries and occupational diseases. It also provides temporary disability benefits while workers are recovering, usually two-thirds of the worker's average weekly wage.

Workers' comp policies usually include employer's liability insurance, which covers legal expenses if an employee blames their employer for an injury. The exclusive remedy provision in most workers' comp policies prohibits an employee from suing their employer once they accept workers' comp benefits.

Workers' compensation benefits in Oregon include:

  • Medical services by a provider chosen by the employee
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Vocational assistance to help injured employees return to work
  • Death benefits for fatal incidents

For details, visit the Oregon Workers' Compensation Division's page for injured workers.

What are the penalties for not having workers’ comp insurance in Oregon?

Oregon workers’ compensation is regulated by the Workers’ Compensation Division (WCD). If it’s determined that you didn’t have the correct coverage, you’ll incur a penalty of twice the amount of the premium that you should have paid for insurance, at a $1,000 minimum. If noncompliance continues, you would incur additional penalties of $250 per day, without a limit.

In extreme cases, business owners who fail to carry coverage could face additional penalties, including jail time.

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Workers’ compensation death benefits in Oregon

Oregon workers’ compensation death benefits are available to survivors of an employee who dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness. To claim benefits, the survivor must have been wholly or partially dependent on the deceased worker for financial support.

The following survivors are eligible for death benefits:

  • Spouse
  • Child up to age 18
  • Child up to age 26 who is enrolled in higher education or GED courses
  • Other financially dependent relatives

Workers’ compensation insurance also covers up to about $20,000 in funeral and burial costs. For details, visit the Workers' Compensation Division's page on death benefits.

Workers’ comp settlements in Oregon

An Oregon workers’ compensation settlement is different from an award. An award is the actual benefit that the employee receives. The settlement is a contract between the insurer and the employee that provides a lump sum to the injured worker in exchange for the worker relinquishing rights to bring further claims based on the injury.

The State of Oregon allows two types of settlements:

Claim disposition agreement. A CDA occurs when the insurance company accepts and voluntarily pays a claim. It doesn’t terminate the worker’s rights to further medical treatment, but it does release claims for:

  • Time-loss benefits
  • Permanent disability benefits
  • Vocational assistance, including job retraining
  • Reopening of the claim if the condition becomes worse or aggravated

Disputed claims settlement. If the insurer denies a workers’ comp claim in Oregon, the employee can appeal to the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division.

Settlements are based on the following factors:

  • Severity of injuries
  • Cost of medical care
  • Pre-injury wages
  • Ability to return to work
  • Need for job retraining
  • Whether there is conflicting evidence

Workers’ compensation statute of limitations in Oregon

Oregon employees must inform their employer as soon as possible when an injury has occurred. For most injuries, the Oregon statute of limitations requires that a workers’ compensation claim be filed within one year from when the worker first discovered the work-related injury.

The employer is required to notify the insurer within five days of an insurable incident.

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Start a free online application today to compare workers’ compensation quotes from leading U.S. insurance carriers for your small business. Insureon’s licensed agents specialize in insurance for a variety of Oregon businesses.

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