Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Workers' Compensation Division
Designation and Responsibility of a Paying Agent
(1) For the purpose of this rule:(a)“Compensable injury” means an accidental injury or damage to a prosthetic appliance, or an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment with any Oregon employer, and which requires medical services or results in disability or death.(b)“Exposure” means a specific incident or period during which a compensable injury may have occurred.(c)“Responsibility” means liability under the law for the acceptance and processing of a compensable claim.(2) General. The director will designate by order which insurer must pay a claim if the employers and insurers admit that the claim is otherwise compensable, and where there is an issue regarding:(a) Which subject employer is the true employer of the worker;(b) Which of more than one insurer of a certain employer is responsible for payment of compensation to the worker;(c) Which of two or more employers or their insurers is responsible for paying compensation for one or more on-the-job injuries or occupational diseases; or(d) Which of two or more employers is responsible when there is joint employment.(3) Own motion claims. With the consent of the board, own motion claims under ORS 656.278 (Board has continuing authority to alter earlier action on claim)(1) are subject to this rule.(4) Determination of compensability. Upon learning of any of the issues described in section (2) of this rule, the insurer must expedite the processing of the claim by immediately investigating the claim to determine responsibility and whether the claim is otherwise compensable.(a) For the purposes of this rule, insurers identified in a potential responsibility dispute under ORS 656.307 (Determination of issues regarding responsibility for compensation payment) must, upon request, share claim related medical reports and other information pertinent to the injury without charge in order to expedite claim processing.(b) The act of the worker applying for compensation benefits from any employer identified as a party to a responsibility dispute constitutes authorization for the involved insurers to share the pertinent information in accordance with the criteria and restrictions provided in OAR 436-060-0017 (Release of Claim Documents) and 436-010-0240 (Medical Records and Reporting Requirements for Medical Providers).(c) Copies of claims documents must be mailed under the time frames established in OAR 436-060-0017 (Release of Claim Documents)(4).(d) An insurer that shares information under this rule bears no legal liability for disclosure of the information.(5) Notification of affected insurers. Upon learning of any of the issues described in section (2) of this rule, the insurer must immediately notify any other affected insurers of the situation. Such notice must identify the compensable injury and include a copy of all medical reports and other information pertinent to the injury. The notice must identify each period of exposure that the insurer believes responsible for the compensable injury by the following:(a) Name of employer;(b) Name of insurer;(c) Specific date of injury or period of exposure; and(d) Claim number, if assigned.(6) Request for designation of a paying agent. Upon deciding that the responsibility for an otherwise compensable injury cannot be determined, the insurer must request designation of a paying agent from the director in writing and mail a copy of the request to the worker and the worker’s attorney, if any.(a) The insurer may not attach the request to, or include the request in, any form or report the insurer is required to submit under OAR 436-060-0011 (Insurer Reporting Requirements) or in the denial letter to the worker required by OAR 436-060-0140 (Acceptance or Denial of a Claim).(b) The request, or agreement to designation of a paying agent, is not an admission that the insurer is responsible for the compensable injury; it is solely an assertion that the injury is compensable against a subject Oregon employer.(c) The insurer’s written request must contain the following information:(A) Identification of the compensable injuries or occupational diseases;(B) That the insurer is requesting designation of a paying agent under ORS 656.307 (Determination of issues regarding responsibility for compensation payment);(C) That the insurer acknowledges the claim is otherwise compensable;(D) That responsibility is the only issue;(E) Identification of the specific claims or exposures involved by:(i) Employer;(ii) Insurer;(iii) Date of injury or specific period of exposure; and(iv) Claim number, if assigned;(F) Acknowledgment that medical reports and other material pertinent to the injury have been provided to the other parties; and(G) Confirmation the worker has been advised of the actions being taken on the worker’s claim.(d) The director will not designate a paying agent when:(A) It has not been determined if the injury is compensable against a subject Oregon employer;(B) An insurer included in the question of responsibility opposes designation of a paying agent because it has received no claim; or(C) The 60 day appeal period of a denial expired and:(i) No request for hearing had been received by the board; or(ii) No request for a designation of paying agent order had been received by the director.(7) Failure to respond to request for clarification. When notified by the director that there is a reasonable doubt as to the status of the claim or intent of a denial, the insurer must provide written clarification to the director, the worker, the other insurers involved and other interested parties within 21 days of the mailing date of the notification. If an insurer fails to respond timely or provides an inadequate response (e.g., failing to answer specific questions or provide requested documents), the director may assess a civil penalty under OAR 436-060-0200 (Assessment of Civil Penalties).(8) Insurer responsibilities. Insurers receiving notice from the director of a worker’s request for designation of a paying agent must immediately process the request in accordance with sections (4) through (6) of this rule.(9) Factors for designation. Upon receipt of written acknowledgment from the insurers that the only issue is responsibility for an otherwise compensable injury claim, the director will issue an order designating a paying agent under ORS 656.307 (Determination of issues regarding responsibility for compensation payment). The director will designate the insurer with the lowest compensation considering the following factors:(a) The claim with the lowest temporary total disability rate;(b) If the temporary total disability rates and the rates per degree of permanent disability are the same, the earliest claim;(c) If there is no temporary disability or the temporary total disability rates are the same, but the rates per degree of permanent disability are different, the claim with the lowest rate per degree of permanent disability;(d) If one or more claims have disposed of benefits in accordance with ORS 656.236 (Compromise and release of claim matters except for medical benefits)(1), the claim providing the lowest compensation not released by the claim disposition agreement;(e) If one claim is under own motion jurisdiction, that claim, even if it is not the claim with the lowest temporary total disability rate; and(f) If more than one claim is under own motion jurisdiction, the own motion claim with the lowest temporary total disability rate.(10) Referral to the Worker’s Compensation Board. By copy of its order, the director will refer the matter to the board to set a proceeding under ORS 656.307 (Determination of issues regarding responsibility for compensation payment) to determine which insurer is responsible for paying benefits to the worker.(11) Responsibilities of designated paying agent. The designated paying agent must process the claim as an accepted claim through claim closure under OAR 436-030-0015 (Insurer Responsibility) unless it is relieved of the responsibility by an order of the administrative law judge or resolution through mediation or arbitration under ORS 656.307 (Determination of issues regarding responsibility for compensation payment)(6).(a) The parties to an order under this section may not settle any part of a claim under ORS 656.236 (Compromise and release of claim matters except for medical benefits) or 656.289 (Orders of Administrative Law Judge), except to resolve the issue of responsibility, unless prior approval and agreement is obtained from all potential responsible insurers.(b) Resolution of a dispute by mediation or arbitration by a private party cannot obligate the Consumer and Business Services Fund without the director’s prior approval.(c) The Consumer and Business Services Fund is not obligated when one party declines to participate in a legitimate settlement conference under an ORS 656.307 (Determination of issues regarding responsibility for compensation payment) order.(d) Compensation paid under the order must include all benefits, including medical services, provided for a compensable injury to a subject worker or the worker’s beneficiaries. The payment of temporary disability due must be for periods subsequent to periods of disability already paid by any insurer.(12) Change in compensability or claims status. After a paying agent is designated, if any of the insurers determine compensability may be an issue at hearing, the insurer must notify the director.(a) Any insurer must notify the director and all parties to the order of any change in claim acceptance status after the designation of a paying agent.(b) When the director receives notification of a change in the acceptance of a claim or notification that compensability is an issue after designation of a paying agent, the director will order termination of any further benefits due from the original order designating a paying agent.