personal injury protection

Oregon Women Pay More For Car Insurance Than Oregon Men! Here is Why...

As an Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer and Consumer Lawyer, I am regularly asked by people if making a claim to their auto insurance will cause their insurance rates to go up. This is not an easy question to answer, because Insurance Companies are for profit businesses. As a result, Insurers are going to do what they feel is necessary in order to make a profit unless regulators or attorneys’ stop them. For example, GEICO was ordered to pay $23,000,000.00 to one of their insureds for GEICO failing to pay benefits, and denying payments on a whim. State Farm agreed to pay its customers $250,000,000 (That is not a typo) in order to avoid a racketeering trial in which customers claimed that State Farm was rigging an election for a Judge that had made favorable rulings for State Farm. USAA agreed to pay $39,000,000.00 to settle a lawsuit filed by its insureds (Veterans, Active Duty Military, and their families). These cases are evidence that some Insurance Companies are willing to skirt the law and disregard the moral high-ground in an effort to make a profit. Another example of insurers putting profit over people is how insurance companies are charging Oregon women more than Oregon men for auto insurance.

A recent study by an insurance search engine, The Zebra, found that Oregon women’ paid roughly $70.00 more for auto insurance last year than men did. A recent Pew Research study also came to the same conclusions on a national level. The studies found certain states prohibit gender based pricing, but Oregon is not one of them. What this means is that Insurers are at liberty to charge women more for insurance than men, and they do not have to have any justification for doing so.

The statistics support the fact that Oregon insurance companies are charging dramatically different rates for women than men. In 2016, insurers charged Oregon women $13.00 more for auto insurance than men. However, in 2018 that number inexplicably jumped to women paying $71.00 more for auto insurance than men. Does that mean that women are more dangerous on the road than men if insurers are charging them more? The answer is no.

The data does not support the Insurance Industry’s decisions to charge women more for car insurance in 25 States. The Zebra study affirmed that women and men equally engage in distracted driving, so that could not be a basis to charge women more. Additionally, fatality statistics do not support the insurance industry’s decision to overcharge Oregon women for car insurance. For example, men are the drivers in the vast majority of fatal Driving Under the Influence (DUII) crashes. Men also cause more speed related wrongful deaths on the road. The statistics show that men are riskier to insure than women.

Additionally, different companies charge different rates to similarly situated women throughout the country. For example, State Farm charged middle aged women the same as men. However, GEICO charged middle aged women 16% more than men. This is an important statistic. If insurance companies rates reflect the risk of a particular demographic of drivers then there would not be such a large disparity between the rates particular insurance companies are charging.

Then why are insurance companies charging women the so called “pink tax” to insure their vehicles? Why have the number of states where women pay more than men doubled in the past two years? The answer is simple, profits. The insurance industry is operating in a relaxed regulatory environment that permits them to take actions that will make their companies more profitable, even if that means imposing the “pink tax” on women.

For example, the insurance industry knows that Oregon does not have a bad faith claim, and Insurance Companies are specifically exempted from Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA). The UTPA is a law that provides consumers a remedy if consumers are ripped off by a business. However, the insurance industry lobbied the legislature to be exempted from that law. As a result the insurance industry knows they are likely immune from any real consequences of arbitrarily charging women more for insurance than men.

Despite the insurance industry’s protections, here at Ross Law we will sue insurance companies if a person has been wronged by an insurer and there is a recognized legal remedy for that person. For example we regularly sue insurance companies on behalf of people whose automobile insurers deny paying personal injury protection benefits. We also sue insurance companies to collect uninsured and under-insured motorist benefits. Ross Law has also sued insurance companies for denying insurance coverage for a car crash.

If you or someone you know has an issue with an auto insurance company please call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for your free case evaluation. Ross Law PDX is happy to represent Oregonians in many types insurance disputes.

Please note that Ross Law PDX is not affiliated with The Zebra or the Pew Research Center. Please refer to the links in the article for the most accurate information. Please note that this blog may be considered attorney advertising and expresses the opinions of this law office. Please remember that the law is constantly changing and insurance issues are usually very complicated. Please consult with an Oregon attorney if you have a dispute with an Oregon insurer. Do not simply rely on this blog post.




Ross Law files Suit against USAA Casualty Insurance for Wrongfully Denying PIP Benefits

USAA has been my insurance company my entire adult life. They market themselves as supporters of the military and veterans. That may be the case, but as a personal injury lawyer, I often witness USAA doing anything they can to deny veterans and their families personal injury protection benefits. As a result USAA is often the target of PIP lawsuits in which the insured is forced to sue USAA for wrongfully denying benefits in an effort to obtain their insurance benefits. Recently Ross Law PDX filed a lawsuit against USAA Casualty Insurance Company in an effort to obtain our client PIP benefits.

In our case USAA through Auto Injury Solutions sent our client’s medical record out to a hired gun doctor to give an opinion that my client was not hurt as bad as she claims to have been. This is often referred to as a “record review” or “file review.” USAA then failed to provide any notice that it was denying our client’s bills or explain why. We have alleged this is in violation of Oregon Law and its contract. USAA appears to have taken a position of vigorously defending the action.

If you or someone you know have been wrongfully been denied PIP benefits, please call Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658. Ross Law PDX is happy to fight insurance companies that have wrongfully denied insurance claims. Please note that the litigation noted above is pending, and the opinions espoused by me on this blog are my opinions and based on my personal experiences.

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Ross Law Receives Another Five Star Review from a Personal Injury Client

We have another happy client.  Recently a client gave Portland Personal Injury lawyer Jeremiah Ross five out of five stars on Avvo.com and wrote the following: 

Jeremiah helped me through a tough case and he pinpointed details that made my case. I would have been at a loss if he hadn’t been there to help me understand what to do and how to do it. I am able to afford to go back to school because of Jeremiah’s hard work. It’s rare to find someone willing to work 110% of the time.
— Personal Injury Client

We love hearing from our clients.  If you or someone you know have been injured in a car crash call Portland Personal Injury Lawyer Jeremiah Ross.  Ross Law PDX is happy to give a free personal injury case evaluation if you call 503.224.1658.  Please remember that Ross Law PDX cannot guarantee results and every personal injury case is different.   

5 Things To Know about Medical Debt and Bill Collectors

Many of my personal injury clients tell me they would have never sought the help of a lawyer if the at-fault person (bad driver, building owner, negligent business) would have simply paid their medical bills.  Medical bills can quickly spiral out of control and it seems that there is no way to ever pay them off.   Thankfully personal injury lawyers and consumer lawyers can often help people with getting their medical bills paid off.  Attorneys may be able to get insurance coverage for the bills, force the negligent party pay the medical bills, or work with the medical provider to accept a reduced amount.   However, sometimes that is not possible, and the debt must be paid.  In that case, there are things you should know.  The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) has published a great article that has valuable information for anyone that is dealing with medical debt. 

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Below a few highlights from the article:

  1. Pay Medical Debt Last: Don't ignore it, but you may want to pay off your other debt before medical debt.  This is due to the fact that it is on the lowest priority of debt.  Also, do not take out a loan or credit card to pay medical debt.   This is due to the fact medical debt often has little or no interest in it.  Credit cards and loans have interest, so you will pay more to pay off the original debt.
  2. Debt Collectors Powers Are Limited:  Many medical providers will assign your debt to a debt collector.  These are the people that call to annoy and harass you into paying off the debt.  However, there bark is often bigger than their bite.   Medical Debt is unique in that credit reporting agencies will not include it in a credit report until it is over six months old. This is important because debt collectors will often tell people their credit will be trashed if they don't pay up immediately.   If debt collectors continue to call you or attempt to contact you, you also can send them a letter telling them to stop. Federal law prevents them from continuing to contact you after receiving that letter. 
  3. Medical Debt is Often Not Reported to Credit Agencies:  Often, many medical providers do not report medical debt to the three major credit reporting agencies. However, debt collectors may.
  4. You Can Still Go to the Emergency Room If You Owe the Hospital Money: Federal law (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)) prohibits hospitals from turning people away from the ER due to their inability to pay. 
  5. You Might Be Able to Correct the Bills:  Medical bills can contain errors.  You can work with the medical provider to correct the mistake or get the bills covered by insurance.   

The article contains a lot of helpful additional information that you should read to help you understand your rights and obligations with medical debt.  If you have incurred medical debt as a result of another person injuring you call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.  Jeremiah Ross represents people that have been injured by the negligence of another and consumers.  Please note the information in this article is for informational purposes only and the law is constantly changing.  DO NOT SOLELY RELY ON THIS POST.  SPEAK WITH A LAWYER to fully understand your rights and obligations on medical debt. This post could be considered attorney advertising. 

Three Things You Must Know About Oregon Auto Insurance:

Full Coverage Does Not Mean What You Think it Does:  All too often I meet with clients who tell me, "Don't worry, I have full coverage."  Some of these clients have been heartbroken when they learn that their "full coverage" only included the state-mandated minimum bodily injury limits of $25,000.00. There is not an insurance policy that is sold that states it is "Full Coverage."  This term usually means that the policy meets the state mandatory minimum requirements.  These requirements merely are that the policy has a minimum bodily injury coverage of $25,000.00 per person or $50,000.00 per crash; personal injury protection benefits that include $15,000.00 to pay reasonable and necessary medical bills for up to two years after the crash; and $20,000.00 property damage coverage (to pay for damaging another's property). All policies must also have an uninsured motorist provision and an underinsured motorist provision (used when the bad driver doesn't have enough insurance.)

Your Insurance Company May Refuse to Pay Crash Related Medical Bills:  Oregon law requires that the insurance company pays your crash related bills for two years.  However, this amount the insurer will pay in total varies depending on the personal injury protection coverage you have purchased.  If you have the minimum personal injury protection benefits then your insurer will stop paying crash related bills once they have paid $15,000.00.  That amount can go quickly especially if there is surgery.  The other game insurers play is they will claim your injuries are not crash related, so they refuse to continue to pay your personal injury protection benefits.  They may even send you to a medical provider that works exclusively for insurance companies to give an "opinion" that your injuries are not crash related.   If that occurs call Ross Law at 503.224.1658.

The Minimum Bodily Injury requirements are a Mere $25,000 per Person:  This is usually shocking to most people.  This means that if you are injured in a car crash and you have the minimum limits that you will likely only have $15,000.00 from your insurance policy's  personal injury protection benefits to pay for medical bills, and then an additional $25,000.00 from the bad driver's insurance policy to pay for medical expenses and pain, suffering, and all other harms and losses.   When a person is dealing with a severe injury, these amounts are very low considering the cost of medical care these days. There may be other ways to obtain additional coverage, including "Stacking" your underinsured motorist coverage, or umbrella coverage, but usually, an attorney will be required to navigate these issues.

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 Insurance is a complicated issue, but the bottom line is you can never have enough insurance.  If you are injured in a crash and you need assistance in dealing with insurance companies call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658Jeremiah Ross is a Portland Personal Injury Attorney who will do his best to fight to obtain full compensation for your injuries. 

LEGAL STUFF:  Please remember the law is constantly changing.  This post only applies to insurance policies written in Oregon.  It is important to remember that insurance policies and Oregon law control the types of benefits you may receive and what insurers are permitted to do.  Please rely on the policy language and the law and not solely on this educational post.

 

 

Reimbursement for Transportation to Crash Related Medical Appointments?

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.