If you have been in an auto accident in Oregon, there is another election you need to be aware of. It is the PIP election. The PIP election does not involve candidates or voting, but could affect the amount of money you get from your auto accident claim.

Your Oregon auto insurance policy contains “no fault “medical and wage loss insurance with at least $15,000 coverage per person. Oregon lawmakers required this coverage so that persons injured in a car accident would have a minimum level of medical protection without having to first prove that the other driver was at fault. This no- fault medical and wage loss insurance is known as “PIP”, short for Personal Injury Protection.

PIP coverage exists to protect you the motorist. But the PIP insurance company is not ultimately responsible for your auto crash related medical and wage loss damage if the accident was the fault of another driver. The bad driver’s insurance company is.

As a result, where another driver is at fault the “PIP” auto insurer has a reimbursement claim against the bad driver’s insurance company. Should you accept a settlement from the bad driver’s insurance company after the PIP insurer has asserted a “lien” on your claim, you will be responsible for re-paying PIP insurer. If you don’t, the PIP insurer may sue you to get its money back.

Sometimes the PIP insurer will assert a lien on your claim, other times the PIP insurer will not. If the PIP insurer believes your accident was a small one, the PIP insurer will likely not assert a lien on your claim. Why? While timely asserting a lien on your claim will lock in the PIP insurer’s reimbursement claim, doing so will require the PIP insurer to pay your attorney a fee.

On the other hand, if the PIP insurer believes you have a large auto injury claim, the PIP insurer will certainly assert a lien on your claim. Why? Because the PIP insurer is concerned that the bad driver’s policy limits may not be enough to pay you AND reimburse the PIP insurer.

So what if the PIP insurer asserts a lien on your claim and the bad driver’s limits are not enough to pay the claim? You get paid back first top the extent of your economic damages, but not necessarily your pain and suffering damages. Farmers v. Conner, 219 Or App 337 (2008).

Whether and to what extent the PIP carrier gets paid back will depend on:

  • Available limits of the bad driver’s insurance policy;
  • Whether the PIP carrier timely and properly asserted a lien; and,
  • Whether you properly noticed the PIP insurer of your claim against the bad driver’s insurance company.