Workers’ Compensation: The Flaws in Oregon’s Legal System
This month, we get the chance to talk to Jim about workers’ compensation and where the flaws lie in Oregon’s legal system when it comes to seeking justice for those who were wrongfully injured.
Jim Dodge comes from a working-class background. He became interested in workers’ compensation when his uncle was seriously injured at work and, for reasons he could not then understand, was left without medical care for his serious injuries and no income. He then changed course and went to law school. He says to Lawyer Monthly: “I have never lost interest in representing injured people and find every case exciting and important.”
As an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases, what would you say are the challenges of proving liability for cases that happen in the workplace?
Oregon law is very difficult for injured workers. The injured are often treated like criminals for merely filing a claim. They simply cannot get through the system with a knowledgeable, caring lawyer. Even the most obviously compensable cases are denied. Our state fund denies 93 per cent of the cases it receives. Common sense tells you that this is seriously wrong. I wake up every day excited to fight for my clients in a flawed system.
Do you think there should be any changes in the regulatory environment regarding workers compensation in Oregon? What tends to drive regulatory changes?
We need to advance legislation to bring Oregon workers’ compensation laws consistent with Oregon’s values. Oregonians want to protect workers and families. Our laws should too. Oregon is slowly fighting back against the draconian laws against injured workers enacted in the early 1990s. We all need to continue that fight.
Why is it vital for employees to contact an attorney when they need assistance with workers compensation case?
An injured worker should contact an experienced worker as soon as they receive their first medical care following an accident and only go through their attorney for any contact with the insurance company. Otherwise, the insurance company will throw them in a deep hole that they may never climb out of.
What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned throughout the course of your career?
In almost 40 years’ experience in Oregon workers’ compensation, I have learned that we should always be honest, straightforward and never give up if we know we’re right. My firm lives by those values.
Attorney at Law
Dodge & Associates Attorneys At Law
825 NE 20th Ave Ste 220, Portland OR 97232
We have a 2nd Office in Salem, Oregon:
1880 Lancaster Dr, Suite 123 NE Salem, OR
Jim Dodge has worked in Oregon workers’ compensation for almost 40 years, as a law clerk to some of the best attorneys in the field, an assistant attorney general, a judge, a managing attorney of our state fund, SAIF, and, for most of that time, representing injured workers. His firm consists of three lawyers and a large staff of experienced paralegals. They are all dedicated to assisting injured workers, accident victims, the disabled and their families.
Dodge & Associates Attorneys at Law is one of the top law firms in Portland, OR. Dodge and Associates have helped the injured and disabled for over thirty-five years. We have several Spanish speaking staff members and access to other language interpreters. We have a deserved reputation for effective representation.
We specialize in workers’ compensation, personal injury and social security law, providing assistance on related claims in one office.