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Highly Rated Oregon Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been seriously injured in an Oregon car accident, you may have a lot of questions and feel like you have no place to turn. The insurance company is making you anxious by calling and sending you letters and forms. Do I have to call them back? What if I don’t send in these forms?

Information on the internet is often not credible. You can’t afford to make a mistake. Do yourself a favor and call for a free consultation and give yourself some peace of mind. We are here to answer your questions and help you get back to focusing on your recovery and the wellbeing of your family.

After we talk, if you decide you need representation, we can discuss that. But that is your choice on your timeline. We will never pressure you. Before making that call, you may want to have some information.

Oregon Car Accident Law

Statutes of Limitations

Generally, in Oregon, the statute of limitations for car accident cases is two years for an injury. The statute of limitations for an Oregon wrongful death case is three year.  There are exceptions that can lengthen that time such as being a minor or mentally handicapped when the injury occurred. 

Tort Claims Notice Requirements

If the at-fault driver is working for a public body, you may have some shorter deadlines than the statute of limitations. In that case, you must give the public entity notice within six months for an injury or one year for a death. This is commonly called tort claims notice. Much like the statute of limitations, there are also exceptions to the tort claims notice which can extend these deadlines. 

It is a good idea to consult with an experienced Oregon car accident lawyer well in advance of your statute of limitations. Make sure you do not miss any critical deadlines.

Proving Fault

Now that you understand that there are potential time limitations to your case, you need to know that it is your burden to prove the other driver was at fault and not you. This is another area where an experienced personal injury lawyer can be very helpful. Work that is done during this stage might include locating witnesses, gathering photos and videos, and possibly hiring good expert witnesses such as an accident reconstructionist. We will do whatever is necessary to make sure we can prove your case.

Comparative Fault in Oregon

We also want to be able to prove that you were not partially at fault for the crash. If you are found to be partially at fault for the crash, you may lose some or all of any money you would otherwise receive.

In Oregon, a jury determines who was at fault and compares fault if they find both parties have some blame. If you are determined to be 51% at fault or more, you receive nothing. Put another way, if you are more at-fault than the other driver you have no case. If the jury finds you both at fault but places less than 51% of the blame on you, then your verdict is reduced by the amount of fault they assign to you. For instance, If the jury finds the other driver 90% at fault and you 10% at fault, then the judge will reduce your verdict by 10%.

This is another reason to get a good personal injury to present your case. Insurance companies will often try to reduce case values by claiming you were partially at fault. We work hard to knock out comparative negligence defenses and make sure you get 100% of everything you are entitled to receive.

Proving Causation

After you have proven that the other driver was at fault and you were not, then you must prove causation. This simply means that you have the burden of proving that your injuries were because of the car crash. You have the burden of proving that your injuries were either caused by the crash or made worse due to the crash. Insurance companies often fight about causation. They will allege that your injuries were pre-existing even in cases where you have received no related medical care in your life. This is especially common in spinal injury cases. They will use phrases such as “degenerative condition” to say that wear and tear or aging and not the crash that is causing your problems. We gather your prior medical records, talk to your doctors, consult experts where necessary and then prove that your injuries are related to the crash.

Proving Damages

If you can prove that the other driver was responsible for the crash and that your injuries are the result of the crash, you still must prove your damages. Depending on your case the damages may include past medical expenses, future medical expenses, past wage losses, future wage losses, funeral expenses, and money for your non-economic damages - pain and suffering.

Maximizing these numbers is what we do. The insurance company will try to limit the amount of your past medical expenses by alleging some of your treatment was not necessary. They will argue that you will not need any future care. They will try to limit your lost wages saying that you should have been able to return to work sooner. They will not agree that your future ability to work may be impaired. They will try to reduce your pain and suffering damages by arguing that you made a great recovery and the whole incident was not a big deal. What they are really doing is trying to convince you to cut them a break. We work hard to prove the full amount of your damages. We work with your doctors and experts that may be necessary to explain all the losses you have and will suffer. We will work hard to make sure you get 100% of your damages.

Deciding whether to settle or go to trial

When we get retained on a case, we prepare to take that case to trial. Only when the offer gets to an amount of money we think is fair do we recommend settlement. That typically comes after a lot of hard work presenting your case. If the defense never gets to an amount of money we think is fair, we recommend going to trial. We give you our best advice and you make the decisions. If trial is necessary, we will be prepared.

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Questions About Car Accidents

How do I get my medical bills paid after a car accident?

If you have an Oregon insurance policy, you will have personal injury protection (PIP) on your own policy. PIP will pay for the first $15,000 of your “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses that occur within the first two years of the crash. PIP is primary which means that health insurance will not pay car accident-related medical expenses until they can confirm that PIP is exhausted. After PIP is exhausted, you will need to use your health insurance.  Your health insurance will likely ask to be reimbursed from any recovery we get from the at-fault driver. A good personal injury lawyer will work hard to make sure that you keep as much of your settlement or verdict as possible. If your policy is from another state you may or may not have PIP.

Can I get help with lost wages after a car accident?

Yes. If you have an Oregon insurance policy, you will have PIP. PIP benefits include wage loss benefits with a maximum of 70% of your regular wage with a cap of $3,000 per month. Our office will help you get your PIP established so that you can focus on healing.  We do not take any fee from PIP.

Do I have to be the driver of a car to get PIP?

No. PIP covers passengers in a car too. It also covers pedestrians or cyclists struck by a car.

Who is entitled to PIP benefits?

PIP benefits are available to the insured, members of the insured’s family or children living in the same household, passengers in the insured’s vehicle and pedestrians hit by the insured.

Is it possible to be covered by more than one PIP policy?

Yes. You could have multiple policies covering you in circumstances where you were a passenger and also had your own PIP policy. You could potentially have coverage on a third policy if a member of your household had PIP. This might be important if you have significant medical bills that will go above $15,000. You would want to try to get as many paid as possible while working on your claim against the at-fault driver.

Does PIP medical coverage even matter if I have health insurance?

Yes. PIP is primary. Your health insurance may deny coverage until all available PIP is exhausted.

Why is my insurance’s PIP paying and not the other driver?

First, PIP is only the temporary coverage after a crash. Ultimately, they will be paid back by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. PIP is there to pay for things while the case is being sorted out. Otherwise, you may not be able to be seen by a doctor or get wages and other necessary expenses paid until the case is resolved. Without PIP insurance companies would have more opportunity to make low offers to people who need money because they are being denied medical care or wage coverage.

What if I got hurt by someone without car insurance or low limits?

You have several options to explore. First, does the person who hurt you have significant enough financial assets to make it worth going after them personally? The answer is usually no. After all, if they had significant assets, they’d probably be protecting those assets with a better insurance policy. Secondly, you want to check your own insurance policy for your UM/UIM limits. This stands for Uninsured Motorist/ Underinsured Motorist coverage. This is additional coverage that can be available to you. Call me at 503-546-8812 if you have any questions about the availability of UM/UIM benefits.

How does UM/UIM coverage work in Oregon?

UM is Uninsured Motorist coverage. If you are injured by someone without car insurance (or significant assets) then you can make a claim against your own insurance company up to the limits of your own insurance policy. So if you are hit by someone without insurance, you can still recover. UIM in Underinsured Motorist coverage. This applies in a situation where the person that injured you had car insurance, but their limits were not enough to fully compensate you. It works like this: you recover policy limits from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, then you go after your own insurance company for your UIM coverage. An example might be helpful: assume the person that hit you has a $25,000 policy and you have a $50,000 UM/UIM policy. You can collect up to $25,000 from them and then up to an additional $50,000 from your own insurance company. If you had a $100,000 policy, you could collect the $25,000 from the other driver and then up to $100,000 from your own insurance company.

Do I have to pay you to take my case?

We work on a strictly contingent fee basis. This means that you don’t pay us until the very end and then we take a percentage of the recovery. You will never have to come out-of-pocket for anything. We front all case expenses. Call and we can discuss my fee agreement.

How long will it take to resolve my case?

This really depends on the facts of your case. Call me and I’d be happy to discuss this with you.

What factors determine the value of a car accident case?

There are a variety of factors that determine the value of a car accident case including, the injuries, the impact the injuries have on a person’s life, their age, medical expenses, wage losses and impact the injury will have on a person’s ability to earn a living, the venue (what court we’d be in) and the skill of the lawyer.

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