What You Should Know About First Party Benefits

 

No one likes to think about car accidents. Or car insurance. But while it might not be sexy, car insurance is critical. And knowing what “First Party Benefits” are and how they can protect you and your loved ones, can be immeasurably valuable.

What Are First Party Benefits?

In Oregon, all drivers are required to carry car insurance. Drivers are required to purchase minimum insurance coverage (limits) that includes: bodily injury (“BI”), property damage, personal injury protection (“PIP”), and uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist  (“UM/UIM”) coverage.

The State of Oregon requires all drivers to carry car insurance that complies with the amount mandated by the Financial Responsibility Law. That means you must purchase liability and UM/UIM coverage of at least  $25,000/$50,000.  It also means that you must purchase “no-fault” PIP insurance of at least $15,000.00.

No-fault insurance means that, regardless of who was to blame for the accident, each driver’s insurer pays their own medical expenses, lost wages and other costs.

“First Party Benefits” is another term used to describe insurance coverages that are provided to you and your family regardless of fault in an accident. These benefits are frequently referred to either as “First Party Benefits” or “no-fault” benefits. PIP is a “no-fault” or “First Party” benefit. In the event of an accident, PIP pays for your medical expenses, regardless of fault. PIP coverage will pay for all reasonably related medical treatment required, up to one year or $15,000.00—whichever comes first. You can, of course, increase the amount of your PIP coverage by paying for more than the minimum of $15,000.00.

The minimum PIP coverage not only pays for your medical bills, but it will pay for other things like loss of income, household services (to replace things you can no longer do at home), and funeral benefits as well.

It is important that you read your policy and understand what it covers.

Oregon is Not a No-Fault State.

Even though you are required to carry no-fault insurance in Oregon, Oregon is not a no-fault state. What that means is that, unlike other states that are “no-fault” states, in Oregon, you retain your right to sue the at-fault driver to recover the cost of your medical expenses, lost income, and even pain and suffering. It’s important that you understand not only your responsibilities when it comes to car insurance, but the law and your options. That’s why, if you are in a car accident, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. At OlsenDaines, we handle car accidents and personal injury claims. We offer free consultations, and we can help.

Washington allows drivers to elect not to purchase PIP coverage. However, if you do not have PIP coverage as part of your policy and if you do not have health insurance, you will need to pay for medical treatment up-front and you will probably need to find a doctor or medical provider who will allow you to make payments for your health care for the time it takes to resolve your personal injury case.

We Handle Car Accidents.

Insurance coverage that protects you and your family is important. Filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover for your losses after a car accident is never easy. We are here to help. If you are in Portland, Eugene, Coos Bay, Medford, or any other city in Oregon, we have an office near you. We also have offices in Washington, and we provide free initial case consultations. To schedule an appointment, give us a call or send us an email.

What Damages Cap Means For Your Lawsuit

When you are injured by the negligence of someone else, you could end up with a mountain of medical bills, significant pain, suffering, property damage, emotional distress, lost wages or more. Generally, you (the plaintiff) file a lawsuit against the party that injured you (the defendant) to make him pay —both literally and figuratively— for the damage he caused you. You are usually looking for money damages to compensate you for the harm you have suffered.

Economic and Non-economic Damages.

Money damages come in two flavors: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to money losses, like medical bills, car repair costs, lost wages, etc.

Noneconomic damages, however, refer to more intangible damages, like injury to reputation, mental distress, or humiliation. In the context of a personal injury action, “pain and suffering” generally refers to the noneconomic, mental or emotional damage you suffer as the result of an injury or accident.

Not surprisingly, the costs of a serious accident, injury, or medical malpractice case or an incident where a death ensues, can skyrocket into the millions pretty quickly.

So, can a seriously injured person recover the full amount of her or his claim?

No, not in Oregon

Caps on Damages.

Damages caps are laws that limit the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can recover. Each state has its own damages cap. To find out what the cap on non-economic damages are in the states of Oregon, consult with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys.

Damage caps are an issue of public policy.  I have personally seen how they can effect people with catastrophic and life changing injuries.

What a damages cap means to your lawsuit is that you may be limited in the amount of money you can recover for your pain and suffering or mental and emotional damages.

What do if you are facing a serious, catastrophic injury

Every case is different.  Developing a good legal strategy to deal with the caps and maximize your settlement is paramount. We offer free consultations, reasonable fees, and are committed to getting our clients the relief they need. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568 or contact us through our website.

What to Expect in Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling

The decision to file bankruptcy is not an easy one to make. Many people experience enormous distress, shame and embarrassment over their financial difficulties. Without question, declaring Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is no minor decision. But it just may be the right one for you. Especially if you cannot see any way of paying off your debt in the next 5 years.

Mandatory Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling.

Before you can file for bankruptcy, however, you must complete mandatory credit counseling and receive a certificate. Once you have completed the counseling and have your certificate, you must file it with the court along with your other bankruptcy forms. Credit counseling is mandatory. If you do not file a certificate of credit counseling with the court, the bankruptcy court will dismiss your case.

But why do you have to do mandatory credit counseling?

Its purpose is to ensure that bankruptcy is your only best option. In 2005, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) in response to the fact that many people who were financially capable of repaying their debts were using bankruptcy to have those debts discharged. This new law completely overhauled the bankruptcy law and made a number of important changes to bankruptcy rules and procedures. One of these changes was the requirement that debtors complete credit counseling both before filing bankruptcy and prior to discharge.

The purpose of pre-bankruptcy credit counseling is to provide an impartial look at whether or not a debtor really needs to file for bankruptcy.

The Where, When, and What of Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling.

Pre-bankruptcy credit counseling may be the most painless part of bankruptcy. It can be done in person, by phone, or online; and it usually doesn’t take more than a couple of hours.

The most important thing to remember is that you must complete the counseling before you file for bankruptcy. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate that is valid for 180 days. If you decide to file for bankruptcy, you will need to file that certificate with the court.

For your counseling session, you will want to bring with you (or have available) information about your debts and your income.

The counselor will discuss your financial situation with you and will talk to you about what non-bankruptcy options you may have. Counseling will most likely include:

  • A thorough review of your personal finances
  • A discussion of alternatives to bankruptcy
  • Personal budget plan.

The counseling will help you to understand how bankruptcy works and what you can do to avoid financial risk in the future.

We’ll Walk You Through it!

If you are concerned about whether or not you should file for bankruptcy, or have questions about what happens if you decide to file for bankruptcy, give us a call. We offer free consultations. We are experienced bankruptcy attorneys with offices in Tigard, Salem, Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Bend, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.