What is an IME?

A person injured in a car accident has a right to have at least $15,000 in medical expenses paid by their auto insurance under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage if they have an Oregon auto insurance policy. Unfortunately, some PIP adjusters try to cut the insurance company’s obligation to the injured person short by way of an Insurer Medical Exam (IME). These exams are often deceptively billed as “Independent” Medical Exams. They are anything but independent.

An IME is an opportunity for the PIP insurer to gather evidence for a denial of payment of further medical expenses. IME doctors are paid by the insurance company, and many of them forgo the practice of medicine on patients in favor of the lucrative business of writing reports for insurance companies. An injured person should not assume that an IME doctor is impartial or is on their side.

It is important to know when you must attend an IME and when you are better off declining the exam. This decision should be made on a case by case basis and should be made with the help of a knowledgeable attorney. In many cases an IME notice is the thing that should trigger an injured person to consult with an attorney. If you have received an IME notice give me a call to discuss it. – Brad Larson

When Should I Hire An Attorney

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I received a call from an injured person the other day who had previously contacted me a short time after his auto accident. After that initial conversation, he decided to negotiate with the insurance adjuster without the help of an attorney.

Timing is everything

His recent call was to ask if I could get involved in his case. He had not achieved a settlement amount with which he was happy by negotiating on his own, so he wanted to know if I could file his lawsuit.

Auto Accident Oregon Time

I had to decline his request. He was calling at 1:00pm on the two year anniversary of his accident. His statute of limitations for his injury claims regarding an Oregon auto accident was about to run out in a few hours.

This example is an extreme case of what can go wrong if an injured person does not hire an attorney soon after their accident. An auto accident, especially with injuries, is like the inner workings of a clock. Certain things need to mesh to operate smoothly.

Why do people wait?

We can speculate that his busy life did not give him as much time to handle his settlement negotiations as he would have liked. We can be certain that he did not have office management systems and computer systems to assist him in pursuing his claims.

It is likely that he had little knowledge of how things should proceed and even less knowledge of the signs that point to a claim not proceeding in an orderly fashion to a just and agreeable resolution. In short, he was in over his head, and realized he was not comfortable navigating the unfamiliar waters in which he found himself.

Putting the pieces together

I like to get involved in an auto accident case as soon as possible because:

  1. There may be important evidence to preserve for future use.
  2. I am ready with a complete medical file if questions arise.
  3. I monitor all of my client’s medical bills so we can be prepared as they approach the policy limit for medical payments.

All of this preparedness results in smooth orderly progress toward resolution of my client’s auto accident claim.

Experience shows that people who engage an auto accident attorney early in the injury claim process have a much better chance of settling their case before a lawsuit has to be filed. In the last two years I have been filing more and more lawsuits to achieve fair results for clients, but one thing that practically guarantees that a case will be filed is a client that signs up late.

Keep in mind that even two months before the two year anniversary of an accident is late enough in the process to greatly increase the chances that a lawsuit gets filed.

Many people find it distasteful to sue somebody else. If you are one of those people, becoming a client sooner rather than later makes fair resolution of your auto accident claim without suing someone far more likely.

Do I need an attorney?

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There are many factors that weigh in the decision to seek an attorney to help you with your vehicle accident claim. Sometimes a single factor determines whether or not expert help is necessary in your situation. Other cases present multiple factors that add up to the need for a lawyer.

car-accident-attorney

Negotiating claims

The most important factor to consider is whether you are comfortable negotiating with insurance people in what is their realm of knowledge and expertise. Insurance adjusters exist to make sure the insurance company pays as little money out as possible on your claim.

They are trained to be friendly in their interactions with you, but this is a facade designed to make you feel like you have a knowledgeable friend working on your case. It is a mistake for you to be taken in by this facade. If you’d rather not be burdened with keeping a wary eye on the insurance adjuster at all times, you should have an attorney help you with your vehicle accident case.

Accident complexity

The complexity of your case is an equally important factor in the decision to hire an attorney. If you have a pre existing medical condition that is aggravated or worsened by the impact in the accident, your case will present a complex medical question that will require precise medical evidence to resolve.

Obtaining this evidence is beyond the everyday ability and skill of many attorneys, so a car accident attorney specialist will be better trained to represent your interests.

Minors and guardians

If the injured person is a minor or has a guardian that takes care of important matters for them, the need to get court approval of the guardian’s actions on behalf of the minor will certainly make an attorney a necessity.

Policy limitations and billing complexity

The interplay of different insurance policies also makes an attorney a necessity if a person is so seriously injured that the insurance policy limits are being exhausted by the injured party’s claims. There may be insurance policies that apply to your accident that you are not aware of. Modern day medical billing is another factor that quickly complicates a vehicle accident case. This list is a small sample of the factors that complicate a vehicle accident case.

The short answer to the question of whether you need an attorney really comes down to your gut feeling—do you feel confident that you will get everything you’re owed from the adverse insurance adjuster?

If there is any hesitation in answering this question, it is time to consult with an attorney about your accident.