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. 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 Cherkoss.
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