Bowman v. SAIF Corp.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: 05-18-2016
  • Case #: A156919
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Egan, J. & Shorr, J.

Under ORS 656.386(1)(a), a reasonable fee includes all the time an attorney dedicates that relates to litigating a denial and rescission, including reasonable time spent after an insurer communicates its intention to rescind its denial and accept a claim.

Bowman appealed the Workers’ Compensation Board’s decision to limit its consideration of the attorney fee award to work Bowman's counsel performed before Bowman was notified of SAIF’s denial rescission. ORS 656.386(1)(a) does not impose any temporal limitation on rescission-based attorney fees and only imposes a limitation on reasonableness. The Court held that in considering the amount of time an attorney has dedicated to a claim where a denial has been rescinded, the board must consider all of the time that counsel dedicates that relates to the litigation of the denial and the rescission. The time counsel dedicates can include time spent relating to litigation work that occurs after the insurer notifies counsel of its intention to withdraw its denial and accept the claim. The board must determine how much of counsel’s post-rescission time was spent on litigation-related issues, and should take that time into account to determine a reasonable attorney fee under ORS 656.386(1)(a). Reversed and remanded.

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