When faced with an injury that resulted from a slip and fall incident, car accident, or other scenario that left you injured in Oregon, there are ways to recover the financial losses that you have may have suffered due to the injury. Personal injury claims can help Oregon residents get their finances back in order after such an injury and can help you recover lost wages, payment for medical bills, and damages for pain and suffering.
If you have been in an accident in Oregon, you need to familiarize yourself with the state laws regarding the claims process. If you file a personal injury claim after an accident, you will want to know how “at fault” insurance affects your claim.
Oregon is a fault plus personal injury protection care insurance state, so that means the driver who is at-fault for the crash is responsible for the damages caused by the crash.
If another driver is at fault, you will file a claim, and then their insurance must cover the damages for the accident. However, you may be left wondering how that will affect your claim.
First, to have a successful claim, you must prove without a doubt that the other driver was at fault. If there isn’t fault proven, then there is no liability and they will not foot the bill.
To show fault, you will need to show that the cause of the accident was negligence. There are four elements of negligence, and all four elements must be proven and shown as they apply to your specific accident.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you prove your case based on negligence. Supporting evidence and documentation will be used to support your claim and to show how each of the four steps of negligence come into play with your Oregon accident.
Oregon’s Statute of Limitations
When you suffer a personal injury, there is a time limit in which you are able to submit a claim. This time limit is referred to as the state’s statute of limitations. In Oregon, the statutes of limitations for personal injury claims is 2 years after the date of the injury, except for wrongful death which has a statute of limitations of 3 years.
Filing A Claim With The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
Generally, you will file the claim with the insurance company of the driver who was at-fault for the crash. To file a claim, you will need basic information and supporting details to show that the other driver was indeed liable for the damages and injuries that you suffered in the crash in question.
You will need the name of the at-fault driver’s insurer and you should also have their insurance policy number. You also need the name of the driver and their complete contact details.
As an example, if you are driving through town and a car runs a red light and crashes into you, you will want to file a personal injury claim. You will need to maintain supporting evidence and documentation that confirms fault in your accident and that shows the losses and damages that you suffered because of the crash.
Another example of an accident in which you may pursue a personal injury claim is if you are rear-ended when you are stopped in traffic. If a car hits you from behind in that situation, it is negligence because the driver is following too closely, most likely distracted, and/or speeding.
The accident report, photos of the accident scene, witness statements, medical bills, and damage repair estimates will need to be supplied to support your Oregon personal injury claim and to show the severity of the damages that you suffered because of the accident.
Motor Vehicle Insurance in the State of Oregon
If you sustain a personal injury due to an automobile accident in Oregon, there are certain insurance coverages that the state requires drivers to carry when operating a vehicle. Failure to carry such insurance could lead to fines, suspension of driving privileges, vehicle impoundment, and other punishment. The minimum insurance coverage that Oregon drivers are required to carry includes:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability including:
- $25,000 per person
- $50,000 per crash for bodily injury to others
- $20,000 per crash for damage to the property of others
- Personal injury protection (also referred to as PIP) of $15,000 for reasonable and necessary medical, dental, and other expenses incurred up to one year after the crash.
- Uninsured motorist coverage of:
- $25,000 per person
- $50,000 per crash for bodily injury
Who Is At Fault for an Accident in Oregon?
Oregon is considered to be a “fault” plus PIP (personal injury protection) car insurance state. The laws in Oregon allow for a type of hybrid combination of both the “fault” and “no fault” systems in order to determine whose car insurance will pay for what.
For the most part, Oregon follows the “fault” system. This means that the driver who was legally at fault for causing the accident is responsible for paying for all of the damages that were caused by the accident in question. The at-fault party’s insurance will only pay amounts up to the amount the driver is insured for. If damages go above and beyond the driver’s insurance coverage, the at-fault party is responsible for personally paying the remainder of the balance.
The PIP policy that all Oregon drivers must carry is where the “no fault” aspect comes into play. PIP insurance covers your own injuries up to a certain limit during the first year after the accident occurs. Unlike true no-fault states, however, Oregon will not prevent you from bringing a lawsuit against the at-fault party before your PIP limits have been reached.
Evidence And Supporting Documentation
When you are in an accident, you will want to stay on the scene of the crash and call the police. The police will investigate and do a preliminary accident report. The officer will determine preliminary fault and gather information to include in the accident report.
If you are physically able to do so, you should get photos of the accident scene. Ask any witnesses to provide written statements regarding what they saw. You should get the names and contact details for any witnesses.
You should have photos of the accident scene from all angles, of the damages, and of any visible injuries. Be sure to maintain documentation, such as any tow bills, and get a written estimate for repairing damages to your vehicle from a qualified auto body repair facility.
Keep receipts for any rental car while your vehicle is inoperable. It is important to establish medical care right away.
To claim damages for physical injuries, or any medical expenses, you must be able to show a connection between your injuries and the accident in question. To do this, you will need to establish medical care right away.
If you delay getting medical care, it will become difficult to show that your injuries were directly caused by the accident in question. You will need to maintain all your medical bills and medical records to support your claim.
Medical expenses include all your medical bills, such as hospital bills, physician visits, chiropractic care, medical devices, prescriptions, physical therapy, and any other medical care required to treat your injuries.
You should keep copies of all medical records, so they can confirm the severity of your injuries, your prognosis, and how you are affected by those injuries.
A Previous Oregon Personal Injury Case
A Portland personal injury law firm handled a case in which a driver was driving on 205N when traffic forced her vehicle to come to a hard stop. The person behind her did not stop in a timely manner, however, and rear-ended her after braking so hard that he swerved during the crash. After going through treatment that did not seem to be helping her, the victim had an MRI done. It was discovered that one of the disks in her back had become herniated during the accident and required surgery. When she was informed regarding the need for back surgery, the accident victim decided it was time to file a personal injury case and contacted Oregon personal injury attorneys. Not only were the lawyers she retained able to get her the policy limits from the at-fault driver’s insurance, her attorneys also filed a UIM claim with her own insurance company. The case settled for $150,000.
Damage Caps in Oregon
As in a number of states, Oregon does have some damage caps in place in regards to the amount of damages that a victim can receive in civil court as a result of a successful personal injury case. In the state of Oregon, there is a $500,000 limit on non-economic damages resulting from a personal injury.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you have been the victim of a personal injury, whether your injuries resulted from a slip and fall incident, an automobile accident, or any other personal injury incident, you should consult with an Oregon personal injury attorney to discuss the best course of action. Your Oregon personal injury attorney can file your case with the court, work with you to help establish fault, and assist you in understanding exactly what damages you should be seeking compensation for in addition to helping you understand the amount of restitution to which you may be entitled.
To get a claim started, you will want to send a demand letter to the at-fault driver and their insurance company. The demand letter should be very detailed, explaining what happened, how it happened, when it happened, and where it happened. You should provide supporting documentation with your letter.
This means that you should include copies of your medical bills, copies of repair estimates, and documentation that shows any missed work and lost wages. For a successful claim, you will need to provide as much supporting evidence as possible.
When you come up with the total you wish to recover your damages, you should be sure to itemize your losses. Always ask for more than the minimum amount you are willing to accept, so there is room for negotiations.
Because of the complexity of such claims, you should enlist the help of a personal injury attorney who is licensed to handle claims in Oregon. The insurance company of the other driver will be represented by attorneys.
Their lawyers will be looking out for their interests and will work to see that they get by paying out as little as possible. You will want an attorney who is looking out for your interests and ensuring that you are treated fairly.