Here in Oregon we are fortunate to have Personal Injury Protection Benefits, or "PIP" benefits. PIP benefits are no fault auto insurance benefits that allow people that are in car crashes to receive up to $15,000.00 to cover crash related medical expenses. (Click here for a more detailed explanation of all PIP benefits and limitations). Although the law mandates Oregon Auto Insurers to provide PIP benefits, it is not always clear exactly what are crash related medical expenses. More specifically, does an Oregon Auto Insurance policy provide benefits to reimburse a person to travel to medical appointments? Oregon's Supreme Court recently said no. PIP benefits do not include transpiration costs to receive medical benefits.
This is a blow to injured people in Oregon that rely on these benefits, and especially rural Oregonians. This is due to the fact that folks living in urban areas have easy access to medical care. However, people living on the Oregon Coat, in Southern Oregon, Central Oregon and Eastern Oregon may have to travel hours to see a medical specialist and even stay in a hotel. Unfortunately, Oregon's Court did not find that argument compelling.
The Oregon Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether or not medical transportation is reimbursable under Oregon's PIP law, ORS 742.520 (1). In Dowell v. Oregon Mutual Ins. Co. 361 Or 62 (2017), the court analyzed the 2007 PIP statute which notes Oregon Auto Insurance Policies must have a provision that that covers:
"All reasonable and necessary expenses of medical, hospital, dental, surgical, ambulance and prosthetic services incurred within one year after the date of the person’s injury, but not more than $15,000 in the aggregate for all such expenses of the person.” ORS 742.524(1)(a)
It is important to note, the law has since changed to allow services for two years after the date of the person's injury. However, that did not effect the court's analysis in this case. The court determined ORS 742.524 did not intend expenses for ordinary transportation to receive medical treatment or to obtain medication . Again this is not good news for injured Oregonians and we can only hope for a legislative fix.
All hope is not lost though. You may still be able to recover transportation costs to medical care from the at-fault driver. If you or someone you know has questions about your PIP benefits please call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658. Ross Law LLC is happy to give you a free telephonic case evaluation.
Also, remember the law is always changing. Please rely on the text of the Court's decision and not solely on this post. Also, remember to rely on the current statute as the legislature is constantly changing the laws. Lastly, this post is not intended to be legal advice and is for informational purposes only. This could also be considered legal advertising.