SAIF v. Traner

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Workers Compensation
  • Date Filed: 08-26-2015
  • Case #: A152085
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: DeVore, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & Garrett, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under ORS 656.262(11), if an insurer or self-insured employer unreasonably denies a workers’ compensation claim, and the denial is overturned, then the insurer or self-insured employer is obligated to pay the claimant’s attorney fee, even if no compensation is awarded.

Claimant Traner prevailed over SAIF in a workers’ compensation claim on judicial review solely on an issue of attorney fees. Claimant petitioned for a fee award of $16,800 under ORS 656.262(11) and ORS 656.382(2), greatly exceeding the statutory limit of $3,334. In the principal case, the Court had overturned SAIF’s denial of Claimant’s claim, and held that SAIF had unreasonably and improperly denied the claim after the 60-day deadline had passed. Claimant did not recover any compensation, but petitioned for an award of attorney fees, to which SAIF objected, arguing that a workers’ compensation claimant may only be awarded attorney fees if there is an award of penalties or compensation. The Court looked to the text and legislative history of ORS 656.262(11) to determine that, because the Insurer had unreasonably denied Claimant’s claim, Insurer was obligated to pay Claimant’s attorney fees. The Court addressed Claimant’s second contention—for attorney fees of $16,800 for 48.9 hours of work. The Court determined that Claimant had failed to show “extraordinary circumstances” sufficient to raise the attorney fee beyond the statutory $3,334. Accordingly, the Court allowed Claimant’s petition for $3,334 in attorney fees.

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