Questions About Personal Injury
Do I need an attorney?
Yes. Attempting to navigate a personal injury case without an attorney is like trying to perform brain surgery on yourself. There is no reason to take unnecessary risks that may result in a loss of your legal rights.
Does my case have a deadline?
Yes. There are important time limits associated with accidents in Oregon. If you don’t act quickly, the case may be lost. For example, under Oregon Law, you have two years to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for your personal injuries. You have six years to bring a lawsuit to recover for property damage. If you have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, you have three years to bring a lawsuit to recover damages.
What is my case worth?
The value of a case is based upon a variety of factors. These include whether the other driver was entirely at fault, the type of injury and/or property damage; pre-existing conditions of the injured person(s), whether there are permanent injuries, and the type of medical treatment necessary. As an attorney with experience and understanding of the insurance process, I focus on those factors that I know will get my clients the best results.
Do I have to give the other driver’s insurance company a recorded statement?
No. There is no requirement under Oregon Law to provide the insurance company with a recorded statement. I strongly recommend that you do not provide a recorded statement until you talk to me, so that you know your legal rights.
Do I have to sign an authorization for release of my medical records?
No. There is no requirement under Oregon Law to provide the at-fault driver’s insurance company an authorization to obtain your medical records. In fact, the authorization that the insurance company will ask you to sign will give their representatives the right to obtain medical records that have nothing to do with your accident. Again, I encourage you to speak with me before you give a statement or sign any agreements.
How do I make a claim against the other driver?
There are several steps involved in making a claim for your injuries and damages. First, You must know the extent and nature of your injuries before you can seek appropriate compensation. I never make a claim against the other driver’s insurance company until my clients have completed their medical treatment. In some cases, my clients suffer permanent injuries. In these cases, I will need to contact your doctors or employers to determine the full extent of your damages. Sometimes it is necessary for me to hire experts to assist us with arriving at the amount of your damages.
Second, once I have a complete understanding of my client’s injuries and damages, I will gather important records, e.g., police report, medical records, and wage loss information. I will review and analyze each of the records to arrive at a settlement amount that will fairly compensate you for your injuries and damages.
Third, I will write a letter to the insurance company summarizing how the accident has impacted your life. I will attach records that support your case and demand an amount of money that fully compensates you for your injuries and damages. If the insurance company does not agree to pay a reasonable settlement, I will initiate a lawsuit to ensure that the insurance company pays an amount that fairly compensates my client.
What do I do about my medical bills, and how do I get my medical bills paid?
Every motor vehicle insurance policy sold in Oregon must have Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is paid for by you as a part of your insurance premiums. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, your insurance company is obligated to pay your medical bills under PIP, even if the accident is your fault. Oregon Law provides that insurance companies must pay your medical bills for up to two years following the accident. If the insurance company denies your medical bill, they can be sued and required to pay attorney fees.
What if I am a pedestrian and hit by a vehicle? Who will pay my medical expenses?
Under Oregon Law, if a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle, the driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying medical expenses under Personal Injury Protection..
What other accident-related expenses will be covered by my own insurance company?
Under your own insurance company’s PIP policy, you may be entitled to recover other expenses in addition to your medical expenses, for example: wage loss, funeral costs, child care, and certain household expenses.
What if I have lost a loved one? What are my rights?
If you have tragically lost a loved one because of someone else’s careless acts, you have rights. You must file certain paperwork with the court to become the representative of your loved one’s estate. In Oregon, only the estate of a deceased person has the right to pursue a claim against the other driver. We can assist you with filing this paperwork. Once you are appointed the personal representative of the estate, we will assist you with brining a claim against the careless driver’s insurance company. The estate of your loved one is entitled to recover damages, such as: medical expenses, burial services, loss of income, loss of companionship and services, and in some cases, punitive damages to punish the other driver for his or her wrongful acts.
What if my child is injured? What are my child’s legal rights?
If your child is injured in an accident, he or she has the right to recover money for injuries and medical bills. However, children under the age of 18 do not have the legal right to pursue a claim. Instead, the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the minor child have the legal right to bring a claim on their behalf. It will be necessary for us to assist the parents with pursuing and resolving a claim on behalf of the minor child. If the settlement is more than $25,000, Oregon Law requires the parents obtain court approval. We will assist the parents with obtaining court approval of the settlement. If the child’s settlement is less than $25,000, the settlement funds must be deposited in a restricted account with a banking institution. We will assist with this process as well.
How can I recover my lost wages?
You are entitled to recover for lost wages under your own automobile insurance company’s Personal Injury Protection policy (PIP). However, certain restrictions apply. You must have missed 14 consecutive dates of work to qualify for wage loss under PIP. Generally, if you qualify, your insurance company will only pay 70% of your regular wages, with a maximum of $3000 per month.
If you do not qualify for wage loss under PIP, do not despair. You are entitled to recover all your lost wages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company when you make a claim.
What if my insurance company denies my insurance benefits? What rights do I have?
Automobile insurance companies spend a lot of money on advertisements that promise their customers that they will protect them in the event of an accident. My clients are shocked when they discover that their own insurance company will deny benefits owed to them after an accident. However, there are consequences for insurance companies that wrongfully deny benefits. Under Oregon Law, you are entitled to make a claim against your own insurance company for denying benefits. I specialize in these type of claims. If I bring an action against your insurance company and it is required to pay your benefits, your insurance company will also be obligated to pay my costs and attorney fees for denying the claim.
What about my property damage?
If your vehicle has been damaged in an accident, you have the right to have the property repaired or replaced by the other driver’s insurance company. If your vehicle is repaired, you are entitled to have it repaired at the body shop of your choosing. You may also be entitled to a rental car, as well as compensation for the loss of use of your vehicle while it is being repaired. Additionally, you will be entitled to recover the reduction in the value of your vehicle.
If your vehicle is a complete loss, or “totaled,” the other driver’s insurance company may not offer the true value of your vehicle. You are always entitled to negotiate the amount the insurance company offers you for your vehicle. Additionally, if your vehicle is totaled, you may be entitled to a rental car, as well as a compensation for the loss of use of your vehicle until it is replaced.
What if the other driver is uninsured? How will I recover for my property damage and personal injuries?
If you are involved in an automobile accident with someone who does not have insurance, do not worry. Your own insurance company will step into the shoes of the uninsured driver and pay you for the damages and injuries caused by the uninsured driver. This coverage provided by your insurance company is called Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM).
What if the other driver’s insurance policy does not cover my injuries or property damage? What are my rights?
In Oregon, automobile drivers are only required to have up to $25,000 of insurance to pay for injuries and damages caused to another because of an accident. In some cases, my clients’ medical bills alone far exceed $25,000. If the money you receive from the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not enough to fairly compensate you for your injuries and damages, the driver is under-insured. You may be able to recover additional money from your own insurance company. This additional money is available under your Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM).