1) I was hit while a pedestrian or bicyclist. Who pays my medical bills?

Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that, in addition to covering auto crash injuries, Oregon’s no fault auto medical coverage (known as ‘personal injury protection” or “PIP’) also covers pedestrian and bicycle injury medical costs. Pedestrians with PIP coverage injured in a traffic accident, should notify their own auto insurer of the pedestrian traffic accident and then instruct medical providers to bill to that PIP claim number. If the injured pedestrian or bicyclist has neither auto insurance nor health insurance, PIP insurance for the driver at fault applies. In that situation, the injured person should fax the insurer for the driver at fault to request a PIP claim number be assigned. Once PIP limits are exhausted or expire, the injured pedestrian or bicyclist should fax evidence that no more PIP coverage exists to the her health insurance company instructing the health insurer to pay all further accident related medical charges. If the injured pedestrian or bicyclist does not have auto insurance or purchased auto insurance in a state where PIP is not required, the injured person should fax all medical bills to his or her health insurer for processing.

DANGER: The insurer for the driver at fault is motivated to limit liability. When that same insurer provides PIP coverage, it’s relatively easy for it to power play an injured person via their early access to medical information.

TIP: It’s generally not a good idea for unrepresented persons to speak with representatives of the insurance company for the driver at fault– the opposing insurer is motivated to minimize damages and undermine fault. Get an attorney’s help to deal with the adjuster for the party at fault. Remember, opposing adjusters are potential witnesses who could later testify against you.

2) How much is my car, bicycle or pedestrian injury accident case worth?

This is a fair but difficult question because the value of your case depends on many factors. Ultimately, a claim is worth what a jury or other decision maker says it is worth. Factors decisions makers consider in determining claim value include: Who you are. For example, a hand injury to a pianist would be worth more than a hand injury to voice over actor. Decision makers favor persons with whom they identify. Persons in helper professions such as nursing, teaching and firefighting are also preferred. Conversely, felons and perceived drug addicts fare less well. Another important factor is where you are. Personal injury cases are typically tried in county courts. Each county draws potential jurors from their respective county. In Oregon, Multnomah County is generally the best jurisdiction for injury plaintiffs. Washington County is among the worst. When you are also affects case value. Current events provide the backdrop for your claim. Of course the particular facts of your case (the injury, the impact, the acts, witnesses and other evidence) affect case outcome. Finally, who you choose as your lawyer and your relationship with your lawyer is also important. In short, your case does not exist in a vacuum.

TIP: Jury Verdicts Northwest is a publication tracking actual awards and can be a good resource to help assess claim value in our region.

TIP: In most cases you will fare much better with a lawyer then without because insurers are simply not motivated to pay fair value to unrepresented persons.