PIP

Settlement Reached for Multiple Vehicle Collision Injury Victim

The defendant in this matter lost control of his vehicle, side-swiped another vehicle, and collided with our client head-on.  This collision totaled our client’s car and left her with serious injuries.  She was immediately rushed to the local hospital, where her examination revealed a number of severe injuries.  These included a cracked and bruised sternum, ligament and tendon damage in her ankle, neck and back injuries, and severe bruising covering the rest of her body.  She completed eight months of treatment following the accident before making a complete recovery.

Oregon Auto Accident Injury AttorneysOur client called the experienced Oregon auto accident injury attorneys at Dwyer Williams Dretke PC because her total medical bills exceeded personal injury protection (PIP) limits and because she recognized that the number of people injured in this three-vehicle collision would complicate her claims. She needed professional help and we took her case.

Once hired by our client, we explained her PIP benefits to her.  We gave her health insurer all of the information it needed to pay her bills and provided that insurance company’s information to our client’s medical providers with outstanding bills.  In the end, we were able to obtain more money for our client than any of the other parties to the crash received.  Additionally, we were able to convince our client’s insurance company to waive its statutory right to be reimbursed for what it paid out in PIP benefits.

Generous Insurance Settlement Reached Despite Low Policy Limits

The details of another successful Dwyer Williams Dretke PC car accident injury settlement are as follows: our client, a young and able-bodied Central Oregonian woman, was having trouble starting her car.  She popped the hood and manually opened it while waiting for another motorist to pull forward and help her jump-start the car.  This motorist accidentally stepped on the gas pedal, which caused his vehicle to lurch forward and pinned our client’s leg between the two cars.  As a result of this incident, our client was seriously injured and she sought immediate medical attention for her accident-related injuries.

The at-fault driver’s insurance provider offered to pay the full policy limit toward our client’s injuries, but unfortunately the at-fault driver was only insured for the minimum amount required under Oregon law.  Under Oregon law, all vehicle insurance policies must carry at least $15,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.  This meager amount was not enough to cover our client’s prohibitive medical bills.

Our client sought the help of Dwyer Williams Dretke PC because we are experienced auto accident injury lawyers with a track record of success throughout the state of Oregon.  She knew that she could entrust her legal situation with us and that we would secure her the fairest possible settlement given the facts and parties involved in this case.

After reaching out to the health providers that provided services to our client following her accident, we were able to get several to significantly reduce their bills.  We also convinced our client’s insurance provider to waive its lien on the $30,000 in medical expenses that it covered for our client.  Once these arrangements had been made, the case settled and all of our client’s accident-related medical expenses were taken care of.  Our client also received a reasonable settlement to compensate her for her pain and suffering.

Issues At Trial In Impairment of Earning Capacity Claim

This post is part two in a three-part trial report.  The judge in our case was the recently retired Honorable Stephen N. Tiktin from Bend. He was excellent, as usual.

The Defense Counsel was Barry Goehler, head of Nationwide Insurance’s in-house firm. He did a fine job and was very easy to work with.

The main issues in this case were as follows:

  1. My client was charged with felony methamphetamine possession and hindering prosecution in 2007. The judgment of conviction was entered only ten days prior to this collision.
  2. He did not come off as the most credible person on the stand, having changed portions of his testimony from his deposition.
  3. Of the four “before and after” witnesses my client could provide, one had only seen him once a year since 2002, two had significant felony convictions as well as crime of dishonesty convictions, and one didn’t remember much. I went with the one who didn’t remember much, and he showed up in court unshaven and in dirty blue jeans.
  4. My client is 30 years old and still lives at home with his father. The father, who is 71, did a decent job testifying but lacked a good memory.
  5. My client had a prior shoulder dislocation involving the same shoulder when he was a kid.
  6. The pain and symptoms my client was reporting was more consistent with a labral tear than exacerbation of prior AC joint arthritis (and he had an extensive amount of that). Labral tears come from shoulder dislocations, which did not happen in this collision.
  7. My client waited a full 31 days before seeking treatment, working full time while waiting. Thus, the onset of symptoms boiled down to his credibility, which could appear questionable.
  8. My client continued to work as a line cook for nearly four months after the collision, without help or alteration of his job duties. He later quit his job because he didn’t get along with management.

Experts testified on both sides.

We called Blake Nonweiler, MD, my client’s surgeon. He opined that the collision caused the AC joint symptoms but that there was no evidence of labral injury upon his examinations.  The Defense had Dr. Steven Brenneke of Clackamas testify. Dr. Brenneke admitted many facts that were helpful to me, including the fact that he had never seen the MRI that claimed to show a Hills-Sachs lesion (which can only come from a dislocation), but gave the opinion that the symptoms were more consistent with a labral tear which must have been present prior to the collision based on the lesion.  Our doctor testified that the MRI did not confirm such a lesion, and showed no signs of labral tearing.  Dr. Brenneke also testified that the mechanism of injury was wrong for an AC joint injury, and that there should have been immediate and intense symptoms if the AC joint was, in fact, injured.

The Defendant then hired DME doctor Holm Neumann just ten days prior to trial. Dr. Neumann, interestingly, agreed with Dr. Nonwiler regarding the lack of a Hills-Sachs lesion. However, he also opined that the mechanism of injury was all wrong for an AC joint injury. He also testified that there should have been immediate and significant symptoms if it had been injured. I pointed out also that he was not provided with all of the records, including any of the chiropractic records. He then added that he was not given all of the pre-surgery imaging records, either! Both defense doctors agreed, however, that there was no evidence presented to them confirming or even mentioning any left shoulder pain or symptoms prior to the injury, that all evidence (by client history) was that the left shoulder was symptomatic within days of the collision, and that the surgery was appropriate for symptomatic AC joint arthritis. Again, given this testimony, all opinions turned on the credibility of my client in giving his history.

My next post will detail the results of the trial.

Lawyer Timothy Williams | Top Attorney Personal Injury | Tim Williams Attorney Profile

New Car Accident Case Resolved in Arbitration

It’s every car buyer’s worst nightmare – being involved in a car wreck in your new car before it’s added to your insurance policy. That’s exactly what happened to our Portland, Oregon client. Oregon Auto Car Accident Attorneys, Accident Attorney Oregon | Dwyer Williams Dretke PC | Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys He had purchased a new vehicle and had owned it for three days when he was injured in an accident before he had added it to his insurance coverage. After receiving treatment for his injuries, he added the car to his insurance policy the evening of the accident and was told that he would have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for reasonable and necessary medical benefits up to $25,000.

He continued to receive treatment for the injury he had suffered in the auto accident. Six months later, when his treatment was complete, he had $7,000 in medical expenses. When he submitted the claim to his insurance company, they denied it. Their reason, of course, centered on the fact that the accident had happened before the newly purchased vehicle was added to his policy. This was counter to the information our client had gotten on the phone, but he couldn’t get the insurance company to budge, so he called an experienced auto accident attorney.

After I took the case, I attempted to negotiate with the insurance company but was unable to get them to make a fair offer for our client. Because we do everything possible to get our clients’ claims paid, I took the next reasonable step and filed a lawsuit to recover our client’s medical expenses and attorney fees. The lawsuit forced the insurance company to deal with our client’s claim, and they agreed to arbitration – arbitration being a alternate method of resolving legal disputes without the lengthy, costly process of a full trial. Just like a trial, clients need an experienced attorney to represent them in arbitration.

After arbitration, the insurance company agreed to pay all his medical bills and attorney fees. Our client was very pleased with the result and satisfied with his choice to have a Personal Injury Attorney help him fight his case.

Lost Wages Central Issue in PIP Case

Once an active mother with two small children, our client’s life changed dramatically when she was injured in a Portland, Oregon auto accident. Oregon Auto Car Accident Attorneys, Accident Attorney Oregon | Dwyer Williams Dretke PC | Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys Her extensive medical care nearly exhausted the $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits she had available. Despite her efforts to recover, the demands of the job she had always enjoyed became too much. She was forced to seek alternate employment, but her new job paid less than the old one, leaving her in a financial bind. She applied for wage loss through her PIP benefits to cover the gap.

Her PIP carrier refused to reimburse the difference in pay, arguing that our client had been dissatisfied with her old job and had chosen to pursue a new career. The PIP carrier also insisted she repay the medical benefits out of her liability settlement. A previous attorney had pursued these issues vigorously but with no success, so she transferred the case to an auto accident attorney in our office.

I convinced the PIP carrier that it had no right to reimbursement of paid medical expenses, because ORS 742.544 provides for repayment only when the recovery is greater than the financial losses. Because our client had to take a job that paid less, we were able to show that her lost earning capacity exceeded her liability settlement. We also provided documentation from our client’s doctors to prove that the change in jobs was due to an inability to perform her old job duties – not simply because she wanted a change in careers. When the PIP carrier still refused to pay the wage loss, we filed a lawsuit for the lost earnings and attorney fees.

The case settled shortly after it was referred to a defense attorney, based on the understanding that attorney fee exposure would be far greater than the amount of lost wages. Our client was able to keep the entire $25,000 liability settlement without repaying the medical expenses, and she received the lost wages from her PIP carrier to which she was entitled. She was very happy that she had transferred the case to Dwyer Williams Dretke.

If you have been in an auto accident and have medical expenses and have lost wages as a result, we can help you get the financial reimbursement you deserve. Even if you’ve already consulted with another attorney, we often get results where others have failed, as in this case. One of our expert Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 541-617-0555