What is PIP?

PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection.  If you have a car insurance policy that was issued to you in Oregon, you have PIP on that policy.  PIP is important because until you settle your case against the at-fault driver, you may have expenses that need to be covered such as: medical expenses, lost wages or earnings, and expenses for necessary services.  In Oregon, your own insurance will cover some of these items while you are waiting to get your case settled.

What Does PIP Cover?

It is important to know  that there are limits on the amount and/or duration of PIP benefits. But, in Oregon PIP covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses relating to the crash, wage losses after 14 days of continuous disability, essential household services, reasonable and necessary funeral expenses and child care.  Each of these has limits as you will see below.

Do I Have to Be The Driver Of The Car To Get PIP?

No. PIP covers passengers in a car too. It also covers pedestrians or cyclists struck by a car.

How Much Of My Medical Expenses Will Be Covered By PIP?

In Oregon, PIP covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses up to at least $15,000 or two years whichever comes first.

How Much Of My Lost Wages Will Be Covered By PIP?

In Oregon, PIP does not start paying for wage losses until you have been unable to work for fourteen (14) consecutive days. Then PIP pays 70% of your usual wage with a maximum of $3,000 per month. PIP wage loss coverage lasts for a maximum of 52 weeks of disability.

Can I Get Money To Pay For Someone Performing Household Services For Me?

Yes. You can get reimbursed by PIP for essential services if you: do not normally have paid employment, are unable to perform your household tasks for at least 14 days, had to have someone perform the tasks who is not a member of your household and is unrelated to you, and the tasks are ones you normally do without compensation.

Who Can Recover PIP Benefits?

PIP benefits are available to the insured, members of the insured’s family or children living in the same household, passengers in the insured’s vehicle and pedestrians hit by the insured.

Is It Possible To Be Covered By More Than One PIP Policy?

Yes. You could have multiple policies covering you in circumstances where you were a passenger and also had your own PIP policy. You could potentially have coverage on a third policy if a member of your household had PIP. This might be important if you have significant medical bills that will go above $15,000. You would want to try to get as many paid as possible while working on your claim against the at-fault driver. You do not want bills going to collections.

Does PIP Cover Motorcyclists?

Maybe. In Oregon, PIP is not mandatory for motorcycle policies.  If you elected to get PIP for your motorcycle policy, it will cover you.  If you do not have PIP on your motorcycle policy then you likely will not be able to get PIP benefits from any other policy.  You would need to rely on your health insurance until you can finalize your claim against the at-fault driver.

Does PIP Medical Coverage Even Matter If I Have Health Insurance?

Yes. PIP is primary. Your health insurance may deny coverage until all available PIP is exhausted.

Why is My Insurance Company Paying For This And Not The Driver Who Caused The Crash?

First, PIP is only the temporary coverage after a crash. Ultimately they will be paid back by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. PIP is there to pay for things while the case is being sorted out. Otherwise, you may not be able to be seen by a doctor or get wages and other necessary expenses paid until the case is resolved

Am I Covered By PIP If the Crash Was Possibly My Fault?

Yes. PIP is no-fault insurance. If it is later determined that you were at fault, you do not have to repay PIP.

Do I Have to Pay Back PIP?

This is tricky. The short answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Consult an Oregon personal injury lawyer familiar with car crash cases to discuss this issue.

My Insurance Company Wants Me To Go See A Doctor Of Their Choosing. Do I have To Go?

Yes. If you do not go, they will cut off your PIP benefits. Unfortunately, the reason they are sending you to a so-called Independent Medical Examiner (IME) is to explore cutting off your benefits.They want the doctor to say that your medical care is no longer reasonable and necessary.

My PIP Was Cut Off After Seeing an IME Doctor. Is there anything I Can Do About that?

Yes. You can bring a claim against your own insurance company for wrongfully denying your PIP claim. You’ll want to call an Oregon lawyer with experience handling car crash cases to discuss this possibility.

What Does Full Coverage Mean?

Some people think that full coverage means the other driver (or themselves) have unlimited coverage for any damage that is caused. That is not true. It just means that the policy holder has coverage for damage to their own vehicle as well as liability coverage.The limits of that policy are an amount negotiated between the insured and their insurance company.

What Does Policy Limits Mean?

When a person buy a car insurance policy there are limits to how much the insurance company will pay for damage the person causes. That is the “policy limit” on the case. In Oregon, the law requires policies have at least $25,000 in coverage per victim or $50,000 in coverage per incident. We call this a 25/50 policy. This means that if you were hurt by someone with Oregon minimum 25/50 limits, the most the insurance company is ever obligated to pay you is $25,000. If there are multiple victims in one crash, the most the insurance company might have to pay is $50,000 for the entire group even if that means each are left with less than $25,000. Many people have higher policy limits because they have assets they want to protect from a lawsuit and judgment.

What If I got Injured By Someone With No Insurance Or A Small Insurance Policy But I'm Really Hurt?

You have several options to explore. First, does the person who hurt you have significant enough financial assets to make it worth going after them personally? The answer is usually no. After all, if they had significant assets, they’d probably be protecting those assets with a better insurance policy. Secondly, you want to check your own insurance policy for your UM/UIM limits. This stands for Uninsured Motorist/ Undersinsured Motorist coverage. Your coverage is available if the other driver is uninsured or once you have collected the limits of the at-fault driver’s policy.

How does UM/UIM Work in Oregon?

UM is Uninsured Motorist coverage. If you are injured by someone without car insurance (or significant assets) then you can make a claim against your own insurance company up to the limits of your own insurance policy. So if you are hit by someone without insurance, you can still recover. UIM in Underinsured Motorist coverage. This applies in a situation where the person that injured you had car insurance but they had minimal limits. It works like this: you recover policy limits from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, then you go after your own insurance company for your UIM coverage. An example might be helpful: assume the person that hit you has a $25,000 policy and you have a $50,000 UM/UIM policy. You can collect up to $25,000 from them and then up to an additional $50,000 from your own insurance company. If you had a $100,000 policy, you could collect the $25,000 from the other driver and then up to $100,000 from your own insurance company. The rule is a bit different for insurance policies from before January 1, 2016. Call me and I’ll be happy to discuss your options with you.

Do I Have To Pay You Or Put Up Money For Costs?

No. I’ll never ask you for a penny. Many other personal injury lawyers will ask you to advance the case costs. We don’t do that. And my fee is contingent on winning. If we don’t win, we don’t get paid.

If You Take My Case How Do You Get Paid?

We take a percentage of the money we recover for you. And this is important to note too – it’s the money we recover for you. Many personal injury lawyers base their fee off the gross amount recovered including past medical bills that must be repaid to providers or health insurance. We do not. An example might help you understand the importance. Assume you recover $100,000 but have $25,000 in outstanding medical bills that must be repaid.  Many lawyers will take 1/3 (or more) of the $100,000 which means the lawyer gets $33,333.33, the heath care providers get $25,000.00 and you get $41,666.67. Using the same facts we would take our fee from the net. This means 1/3 after the past medical bills are repaid. So, we would get $25,000, the health care providers would get $25,000 and you would get $50,000.  This means that you take home an additional $8,333.33 than you would if you hired many other lawyers.

Why Doesn't The At-Fault Driver Have To Pay For My Lawyer?

In the American legal system, except in very specific circumstances, it doesn’t work that way. In England the loser pays. But their food is awful, so I recommend staying here.

Can You give Me A Short Summary of How a Personal Injury Case Works?

Why Would There Possibly Be A Trial If They Admit Fault?

Fault is only one of the factors that determine the outcome of a case. You have to establish fault, causation and damages. So, you not only have to prove it was the other driver’s fault, but also that that fault is what caused your injury and that you were damaged in the amount you claim. Oftentimes cases go to trial because the defense disputes the injuries or there is a disagreement about the amount of money they should pay.

What Percentage Of Cases Go To Trial?

That depends more on the lawyer who represents the injured party than anything else. Approximately 15% of my cases go to trial or arbitration. That is definitely higher than average. The reason is that I’m focused on getting my clients the most money possible and that I’m not afraid of hard work or the courtroom. You want to make sure you hire a lawyer that has trial experience and has achieved trial results. Why? Well, what happens if the insurance company won’t make a good offer and you hired a lawyer that either won’t go to trial or isn’t very good at it? You’ll be stuck taking far less money than the value of your case. If you are interviewing lawyers, make sure to ask them about their trials. I’m proud to say that I’ve tried over 75 cases to a jury and my personal injury verdicts have exceeded the final offers by more than a 3 to 1 ratio. So if the insurance company isn’t fair, we are willing to go to  court and make them pay.

How Long Will It Take To Resolve My Case?

Every case is different so it is hard to answer this question. Some cases can be resolved quickly because there isn’t a lot of money at stake or the insurance company decides to act reasonably. In other cases, the insurance company may blame you for the crash, claim your injury is unrelated to the crash or just offer less than full compensation. In these cases, the case may result in a long process and even trial. As a rule of thumb, filed lawsuits generally go to trial about a year after they are filed.

Will I Cause Financial Trouble For The At-Fault Driver?

You will always be the person to decide that. In a typical case the answer is almost always no. In almost every case the defendant has insurance. The insurance company has a team of lawyers representing the defendant. Any judgment will be paid by the insurance company. You do not need to worry about financial harm to the at-fault driver.

How Much Is My Case Worth?

This is impossible to know until a lawyer has more facts and an opportunity to review medical records and speak to your doctors. Factors that affect the value of a case include: degree of injury, pre-injury health, the facts of the incident that caused the injury, whether injured person is likable, whether the at-fault party is likable, where the case happened and more. Consult with an experienced Oregon personal injury lawyer to see if your case has merit. Beware of lawyers that make any promises of value over the phone. It is unethical and means nothing because their fee agreement will say they have made no promises about outcome.

Is There A Multiplier or Formula To Determine How Much I Get?

No. I’m not sure where people get this idea. There is no multiplier such as you get 3X your medical bills. This is a myth. A jury will not be instructed on anything like this. As you can imagine, this would be a terrible thing for someone who lost a limb (potentially minimal medical bills compared to the total harm caused) and a wonderful thing for a person that stubbed their toe and sought ten years of daily treatment. The law doesn’t work that way.

Can I Recover My Losses Without Suing Anyone?

Some people think it sounds bad to “sue someone” to recover their losses and they don’t want to do that. Often the person who caused the crash was nice, did not mean any harm, and felt terrible about what they’d done. So suing them sounds wrong. You do not have to file a lawsuit and ultimately it is your decision how to handle your case – not your lawyer’s. But the insurance companies know you might feel this way and they, unlike their insured driver, are not nice, don’t feel bad and honestly don’t care about you at all. You do not not have to sue anyone but if we are going to maximize your recovery, we may have to put pressure on the insurance company by filing a lawsuit and being willing to go all the way if necessary.

If We Sue Do We Sue The Driver Or Their Insurance Company?

We have to sue the driver. In Oregon the lawsuit is against the at-fault driver not the insurance company. The jury – if it goes that far – never gets to hear about insurance. But it is the at-fault driver’s insurance company that hires the lawyer and, in almost every case, pays for any verdict.

What Kind Of Cases Do You Handle?

I take personal injury cases with merit throughout Oregon and Washington. I handle many motor vehicle cases including bicycle, commercial trucking, car and motorcycle cases.  I also take other types of personal injury cases including cases where people have been hurt due to unsafe property, defective or unsafely designed products, dog bites, nursing home abuse or neglect, medical malpractice and cases for the victims of violent crime.

Can I Call You To Discuss My Case Without Committing To Anything?

Yes. I spend a lot of time each week speaking to people who have been injured or have family or friends that have been injured or killed. I never charge for these calls and they come with no strings attached. If you would prefer to meet in my office, I’m happy to do that too. I’ll just need a little bit of information first to make sure I can ethically discuss your case with you.

How Long Have Been A Lawyer?

I have been a lawyer since 2003.

How Many Cases Have You Tried?"

I have tried over 75 cases to a jury and a similar amount tried to a judge alone.  This does not include arbitrations. I have done many of those too.

If I Hire You Will You Be Available To Answer Questions And Meet Or Will I Only Get Your Assistant?

I sometimes take over cases when a person has fired their previous lawyer. The biggest complaint I hear is that their lawyer never answered their calls or emails.  You can always reach me if you need me. My assistant, Stephanie, is available and can probably answer most questions you might have. But if you want to talk to me I’ll make sure to make myself available to answer any questions you might have.

If I Hire You, Will You Personally Handle My Case Or Give It To Another Lawyer?

I’ll handle it myself unless we discuss in advance that I’d like to associate another lawyer. I do not have an associate or partner so there is nobody for me to hand a case off to. I’ll be the one handling your case.

I Have A Trial Date Coming Up And My Current Lawyer Is Unprepared / Pressuring A Small Settlement On Me / Firing Me To Avoid The Trial. What Can I do?

It depends. Sometimes a case is too far into the process to switch and you are stuck. That is why it is so important to make a good decision the first time. Sometimes, another lawyer can substitute in and take over the case. Unfortunately, many lawyers do not want to do this because they did not get the opportunity to do the case preparation like depositions etc., and it is too late to be adequately prepared or because the first lawyer is asserting a lien and now the case has become financially unattractive. Call and I’ll discuss your options with you.