In Eugene we offer premier representation and thorough guidance for a variety of personal injury matters, ranging from traffic accidents and catastrophic injuries, to work injuries and wrongful death. We have substantial experience representing victims of sexual abuse, and employees who have been wrongfully discriminated or terminated.
Frequently Asked Questions on Car Accidents in Portland Oregon
We want to help you achieve success with your car accident case. Check out these questions that we regularly receive and answers that may offer insight for your own case!
What Should I Do Immediately After an Accident?
After an accident in the Portland, Oregon area, you will likely be asking yourself, “so what do I do now?” And this is a realistic and logical question. First things first, stop the car. Even if you believe the damage was minor, you have a legal obligation to stop.
You will want to keep your mouth shut and avoid admitting responsibility or guilt for the accident. Let your attorney do the talking. Additionally, do not move the vehicles unless they are causing an issue with traffic and can safely be moved to the side of the road. It is best, however, to wait for the police to arrive to shift the scene.
Take a moment to determine the extent of the injuries to yourself and those involved. Check to evaluate whether any party needs urgent medical care. Get help immediately to help yourself and others involved.
Your next step immediately after the accident is to contact the police, even if it is a relatively minor crash. Work with your attorney to discuss the case and how to protect your rights moving forward in the case. It is important to be prepared.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
What Happens if I am Partially At Fault?
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim in Oregon
In Oregon, you are bound to a strict “statute of limitations.” This is a time frame that is established in which you are allowed to bring a lawsuit to court following an accident. You have two years from the date of the crash to file a car accident injury claim. This time limit is based on the Oregon Revised Statutes section 12.110. If someone dies as a result of the accident, the family has three years from the date of the underlying injury to file a wrongful death claim.
Should I See the Doctor?
After any car accident, you should arrange to see a medical professional as soon as possible, preferably the same day. If you were seriously injured in the crash, then you have probably already been to urgent care and been treated and diagnosed. However, many people who have been car accidents do not feel any serious injuries right away. Instead, they feel soreness and aches, but write them off as an expected consequence of a crash.
Please do not make this same mistake. Even if you feel completely fine after your crash, you should arrange to see a doctor today. With a proper diagnosis, a doctor might discover underlying injuries that would not have been noticeable until days or weeks later as they got worse. Seeing a doctor also establishes when your injuries occurred through updated medical records, so it becomes much more difficult for an insurance company to try to argue that your injuries were preexisting. One way or the other, going to the doctor after any crash is a safe choice.
Should I Talk to the Other Insurance Company?
One of the first parties that try to talk to you after a car accident will probably be the insurance company representing the motorist that hit you. They will call you up in a friendly voice, ask if you are feeling okay, and then subtly try to dig into the details of your crash. While this might seem like a nice gesture and business-as-usual, the truth is that you do not need to talk to another insurance company after a crash – and you shouldn’t.
When the opposing insurance company calls you, they have one objective in mind: recording you saying something that will increase your liability for the accident. If you have hired an attorney, you can instruct the insurance company that they should be contacting them for inquiries first. This extra step in talking to help ensures that you do not have a slip of the tongue and say the wrong thing.
Should I Apologize for What Happened?
Speaking of saying something inadvertently, you should try to avoid apologizing to any party after being in a crash. As a kindhearted and courteous person, you probably have the instinct to say you are sorry to others, even when you have done nothing wrong and especially in serious situations like a car accident. However, saying “sorry” is all it takes for an insurance company to twist your words into an admission of guilt. It is yet another common strategy that insurance companies use to increase the claimant’s liability, which would mean they have to pay less to them when the claim is resolved.
When Do I Need to Report the Crash?
Oregon law requires you to report your crash within 72 hours after it occurs. You will need to file an Oregon Traffic Accident and Insurance Report, specifically. The information you disclose on this form is once again an opportunity for you to inadvertently say the wrong thing and possibly risk accepting liability for an accident you had no part in causing. As with interacting with the opposing insurance company, you can use an attorney’s help for filling out and filing this report.
What Damages Can I Get?
The purpose of any car accident claim is to recover compensation that pays for the damages you have experienced due to the other party’s negligence. What sort of damages could you claim for your case, though? Every case is unique, but, in general, a claim can demand damages to pay for medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repairs, pain, and emotional trauma. Oregon does not allow you to demand punitive damages, though, which means you cannot get additional pay simply to punish the defendant for wrongdoing.
Oregon is also an at-fault state for car accidents, which means that liability assignments matter. The more liability a driver is found to be, the more they – or their insurance company, rather – have to pay in damages.
Can I File a Claim If the Other Driver Left the Crash Scene?
Hit-and-run drivers add serious frustrations to an already tense and complicated situation. If the other driver leaves the scene before they can be identified or before they give insurance information, you might still be able to file a claim for damages. The key is whether or not you have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance. This type of insurance policy will provide certain damages to you from your own auto insurance provider when the other driver has no insurance, does not have enough insurance, or cannot be identified, such as in a hit-and-run accident.
Are you not sure if you have UM/UIM insurance? We encourage you to contact your insurance provider to find out. If you can afford to add any amount of UM/UIM insurance to your policy, then it is probably worth it. After all, an estimated 10-to-12% of all drivers in America are believed to be uninsured, so the chances of getting into a crash with such a motorist are higher than you probably first thought.
Do Drunk Drivers Automatically Get Liability?
After being hit by a drunk driver, you might understandably think that your claim is essentially sealed before it has even begun. However, you should be aware that there is nothing in the law that guarantees a drunk driver will be assigned full liability for a crash. You will have to prove through evidence and arguments that you were not to blame for the accident because Oregon is an at-fault state.
The silver lining is that the state should be investigating the crash and the drunk driver. Any evidence that they collect can potentially help your claim, despite the criminal court being separate from the civil court. If the drunk driver is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), then that conviction could be used as leverage for your claim by an experienced car accident attorney.
Will My Case End with a Settlement?
It is true that the majority of personal injury and car accident claims do not go to litigation. Instead, they end with a confidential settlement negotiated between the claimant and the insurance company. Yet there is nothing to promise that a settlement will be reached. When an insurer does not want to accept any responsibility for a crash their policyholder caused, the chances of reaching a fair settlement can be slim.
If you want to avoid litigation and reach a settlement, then one of the first steps you should do is hire a car accident attorney who is experienced and reputable in the community. They can carefully navigate from the beginning to try to work your case towards a fair settlement while also preparing for litigation just in case.
Does It Make Sense to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
With everything we have discussed in this FAQ, you can probably see how useful hiring a car accident attorney can be. From collecting evidence to use in your claim to negotiating with insurers, your lawyer can act on your behalf and for your best interest. Otherwise, you will have to go through the entire process on your own, which is exactly what insurance defense teams want you to do.
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