Oregon Court of Appeals Rules on Reduction of Injury Verdict

Posted on Nov 05, 2013

The Oregon Court of Appeals recently decided a case involving the technical issue of when a defendant can seek a reduction or "partial satisfaction" of a judgment to account for payment of PIP benefits.  This is not the kind of case that will make page one of the newspaper, but it is an important case for injured people in Oregon.

First, an introduction is in order.

When you file a claim in an Oregon Court for injuries from an auto collision, the chances are that your insurance company paid some medical benefits under the Personal Injury Protection or PIP coverage.  If you claim and recover any of these bills in your trial, then the defendant, which is really an insurance company, can file a "partial satisfaction" of the judgment, which is an acknowledgment that the part of the judgment that covers medical benefits provided has already been paid.  Otherwise, the Plaintiff, which is the injured party bringing the case, would receive compensation for medical expenses twice.

There are special rules that determine whether the insurance company can obtain a reduction of the verdict for PIP benefits paid.  Generally, if the verdict, which is really a form the jury fills out, is not created in a way that shows whether the damages awarded were paid by PIP, then the reduction of the judgment is appropriate.

In this case, the Plaintiff's attorney offered to submit a "segregated jury verdict form."  This is a form that lists out each medical bill seperately, including distinction between past and future medical expenses.  This would have allowed a determination of which part of the verdict was for expenses already covered by the PIP carrier.  However, the Court chose to go with a more general verdict form, even though the defense attorney said there was really nothing legally wrong with the Plaintiff's proposed form of verdict.

So, after the jury returned its verdict, the Court agreed with the Defendant that a partial satisfaction was appropriate.  However, the Court of Appeals disagreed, noting that if the Plaintiff's jury verdict form would have allowed everybody to figure out what damages the jury was awarding, and what parts of the case it was not.

If you are dealing with your PIP adjuster, and are concerned about how medical and other expenses are going to handled in your claim against the other insurance company, call us at 503-325-8600 with your questions.  We help people in Oregon and Washington with these questions every day.