Workers' Compensation

Oregon: Where No Surviving Spouse or Dependent, Estate May Not Recover Benefits Claimant Would Have Been Entitled to Receive

An estate is not a “person” entitled to pursue a claim under ORS 656.218(3), held a divided Court of Appeals of Oregon.  Accordingly, where the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board upheld an insurer’s denial of a claim and, while the matter was on appeal, the claimant died of causes unrelated to his claim, without a surviving spouse or other statutory beneficiaries, there was no qualifying person to receive benefits and the claimant’s personal representative could not be substituted as claimant in the case.  The majority stressed that the current version of ORS 656.218(1) provided that, when a worker who is entitled to compensation dies, “payments shall be made for the period during which the worker, if surviving, would have been entitled" to compensation and further, that the payments provided for in the statute “shall be made to the persons who would have been entitled to receive death benefits if the injury causing the disability had been fatal.”  The most straightforward reading of the text, indicated the majority, was that those are the “persons” to whom ORS 656.218(3) referred, and they did not include the worker's estate or personal representative.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Sather v. SAIF Corp., 2014 Ore. App. LEXIS 628 (May 7, 2014) [2014 Ore. App. LEXIS 628 (May 7, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 89.03 [89.03]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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