You may be reading this because you have been injured in a car accident in Massachusetts and are receiving treatment as a result. The Personal Injury Protection Benefits (PIP) from your auto insurance company is paying the medical bills. Or, perhaps, you have filed an uninsured motorist claim or an underinsured motorist claim with your auto insurance company. Either way, you are seeking payments or compensation under a part of your insurance policy.
Now your auto insurance company has scheduled an Examination Under Oath (also referred to as EUO) and you want to know if you must attend the examination. The short answer is: Yes. Let’s take a closer look at Examinations Under Oath.
What Are Examinations Under Oath?
An Examination Under Oath (EUO) is a procedure whereby an auto insurance company may arrange for any person seeking payments from an auto insurance policy to be questioned under oath regarding the payments sought. Page 34 of the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Policy provides “We may also require you and any person seeking payment under any part of this policy to submit to an examination under oath at a place designated by us, within a reasonable time after we are notified of the claim.”
The Automobile Insurer Bureau of Massachusetts has not specifically stated what exactly the examination may cover, but an EUO is generally meant to proceed in similar fashion to a deposition. This is where an attorney for the insurance company interrogates the person seeking payments under the policy under oath. At the examination, the subject is sworn in similar to how witnesses are sworn in at a trial or hearing and the questions and answers are recorded by a stenographer.
For example, if you are injured in a car accident and are seeking Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits to cover the cost of your medical treatment or a portion of your lost wages, you are considered a person seeking payments under a part of the insurance policy. Thus, the auto insurance company may arrange for you to be questioned under oath.
Who May Arrange for an Examination Under Oath?
Remember, the auto insurance company you are seeking payments or benefits from has the right to order an Examination Under Oath. As stated above, auto insurance company may order an examination for PIP, Medical Payment Coverage, Uninsured and Underinsured claims.
This obligation, however, does not extend to someone making a bodily injury claim against an auto insurance company’s insured. These bodily injury claims are considered third-party claims and do not afford the bodily injury insurance carrier the right to force you to submit to an examination under oath. This means the insurance company for the other driver that caused the car crash and your injuries cannot compel you to attend an examination under oath.
Therefore, when it is recommended for accident victims not speak with the auto insurance company or their adjusters, it means the other driver’s insurance company. You have an obligation to cooperate with your own auto insurance company. You have no obligation to speak with, submit to a recorded statement or an examination of the other driver’s insurance company.
What Happens if I Do Not Attend the EUO?
The Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Policy provides “After an accident or loss, you or anyone else covered under this policy must cooperate with us in the investigation, settlement and defense of any claim or lawsuit.” Cooperation generally means that, if ordered, anyone seeking benefits or payments under the insurance policy must attend the examination.
Failure to attend the Examination Under Oath is considered a breach of the insurance policy and often results in the auto insurance company refusing to pay or extend benefits. Basically, if you refuse or fail to attend the examination, the auto insurance company may be discharged from any responsibility to pay under the insurance policy.
If an Examination Under Oath Has Been Scheduled, You Should Consult With a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident and your auto insurance company has scheduled an Examination Under Oath, you should speak with an experienced Massachusetts car accident attorney. An experienced accident attorney will be able to educate you on the claims process and protect your rights.
Attending an examination alone or without first consulting with an attorney could be detrimental. The insurance company’s lawyers are highly trained at conducting examinations. They generally try to obtain testimony or statements from you at the examination that they can later attempt to use against you. This may result in the denial of your claim.