Oregon Car Insurance and Personal Injury Claims FAQs

How much car insurance are Oregon drivers required to have?

Answer:  Oregon has a mandatory Oregon car insurance law that requires every driver to maintain, at a minimum, the following types of insurance for their vehicle:

Type of Insurance

Bodily injury and property damage liability – Pays for damages to other people and/or property, such as medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lawsuit settlements and legal expenses. if you cause an accident.

Minimum Amount

  • $25,000 per person;
  • $50,000 per crash for bodily injury to others; and
  • $20,000 per crash for damage to others property

Personal injury protection (PIP) – Pays for reasonable and necessary medical, dental and other expenses incurred up to 1 year after the crash, if you or your passengers are injured in an accident, regardless of who is at fault.

Minimum Amount

  • $15,000 per person

Uninsured motorist– Pays for medical, rehabilitation, and funeral expenses, loss of earnings, and other damages if you or your family are involved in a vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver.

Minimum Amount

  • $25,000 per person;
  • $50,000 per crash for bodily injury

While these minimum amounts are required by Oregon law, they do not come close to covering your recovery costs if you are involved in a serious accident. The American Automobile Association (AAA) calculates that the cost of a fatal car accident exceeds $6 million, and the average injury accident is approximately $126,000. An equally shocking statistic comes from the Oregon Department of Transportation indicating that 14% of Oregon motorists involved in fatal or injury accidents in 2011 were uninsured. Meaning, if the other car causes an accident and has no insurance, you are covered by your policy for a minimum of $25,000. But if AAA is correct, and the average injury accident costs $126,000, you could be out-of-pocket the difference of $101,000. It is recommended to have insurance coverage that is 5 to 10 times the minimum Oregon car insurance amount in order to protect you and your family.

What is PIP coverage and what type of benefits are payable with PIP coverage? Are pedestrians and bicyclists covered if they were involved in the accident?

Answer: PIP insurance was designed to provide an immediate way of obtaining access to medical coverage without the complication of determining who was at-fault. Oregon car insurance companies are required to pay the benefits within 60 days of receiving a claim or provide a written notice of denial stating the reason for the denial and how to contest the denial. As you can imagine this can become complex when an Oregon car insurance company is expressing their opinion as to what was “reasonable and necessary,” or what constitutes “lost wages.” Besides being subject to Oregon car insurance company opinions about reasonable and necessary expenses which can lead to arbitration, PIP benefits are subject to further complexities associated with workers compensation rules, reimbursement requirements, primary versus secondary insurance coverage, and uninsured motorist, to mention a few. It makes a lot of sense to protect your rights by having access to a Portland Personal Injury Attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights.

Do I receive benefits even if I was deemed to be at fault? Are pedestrians and bicyclists covered if they were involved in the accident?

Personal Injury Protection insurance, or PIP, is a mandatory part of Oregon car insurance, and covers you, your passengers, and pedestrians or bicyclists involved in a car accident, for reasonable and necessary medical expenses and other costs resulting from the accident, regardless of who was at fault.  Covered expenses are limited to a maximum of $15,000 (unless you have purchased a higher limit or a deductible), and must be incurred within 1 year of the accident. Covered expenses include:

  • Reasonable and necessary medical expenses;
  • 70% of lost wages, if the injured person is disabled for more than 14 days, to a maximum of $3,000 per month;
  • If the injured person is not employed, then up to $30 per day for essential services, if disabled for more than 14 days;
  • Child care up to a maximum of $25 per day and a maximum payment of $750;
  • Reasonable and necessary funeral expenses to a maximum of $5,000.

How does PIP insurance work and what happens if my coverage is exhausted?

Answer: If you have been involved in a serious personal injury accident in Oregon, then you know your first priority is to deal with your medical treatments, recovery, and paying mounting medical bills. Because Oregon car insurance requires mandatory PIP coverage, your starting point for paying those medical expenses will be either your PIP insurance or your primary health insurance provider. With the average injury accident costing $126,000, you may quickly exhaust the $15,000 PIP benefit. Once this happens your personal healthcare insurance will usually pay additional amounts. If you do not have healthcare insurance then you will be personally responsible for paying the additional amounts above the $15,000 PIP benefit. This is where an experienced Portland Personal Injury Attorney can provide guidance and action to protect your rights and seek a settlement to make you financially whole again. There are many legal actions and alternatives to be explored that can benefit you in the short term such as negotiating a settlement, arbitration, or making a policy limits demand.

Should I talk to my insurance company, prepare a statement and talk to the other person’s insurance company?

Yes, you need to inform your Oregon car insurance company about the accident, but depending on the complexity and severity of the accident I would do so with the assistance of an experienced Portland Personal Injury Attorney. Oregon car insurance coverage is very much dependent on establishing who is at fault, and your ability to collect on available insurance coverage depends on which party is deemed to be at fault and the percentage that they are assessed as being at fault. Oregon is a 51% Comparative Fault state, which means any party assessed 51% or more fault is NOT eligible for damages, but if the parties are equally to blame for the accident (50%:50%) then both are eligible for damages. Determining fault can be a complicated process requiring insurers and attorneys to examine police reports, citations, witness statements, and state vehicle codes, all to an end of determining who is at-fault and hence who gets liability insurance coverage.

When you do talk to your Oregon car insurance company you need to be very aware of providing a recorded statement. Recorded statements are not simple conversations about the accident between friends, nor are they being recorded to improve customer service. They are used as a means of establishing an official record of the accident. You must prepare to provide an official statement about the accident, eliminating all off-the-cuff remarks, and not make inaccurate statements about the extent of your injuries.  You can’t take back statements like “… I’m feeling much better,” and one week later find yourself facing neck surgery and expect the insurance company not to dispute the claim. The best resource to help you prepare and understand the process you are about to go through is an experienced Portland Personal Injury Attorney. After seeing hundreds of cases from both the defense and plaintiffs side of personal injury, an experienced attorney knows what strategy and tactics insurance companies will use to minimize the claim payout. You can take advantage of this experience by meeting and discussing your case during a free consultation and case evaluation. You can have your questions answered and learn how to effectively process your claim. Whether you retain a lawyer to represent you or not, understanding your options is time well spent.

Speak to a trained insurance adjuster who is effective in talking about the accident.

Your statements will become “admissions” regarding some fault or distraction on your part, the degree of trauma in the accident, or something that lessens the seriousness of your medical injuries. Providing recorded statements within hours or a few days of the accident about your injuries, level of pain or inability to function is completely premature. Do not provide premature statements about your injuries – wait until you know the true extent of your medical conditions which may be 2-3 weeks after the accident or when a doctor has had adequate time to diagnose primary and secondary issues. If you are involved in a serious or complex accident then speak to a lawyer before you make any recorded statements. Your lawyer can provide insight into how and when to effectively communicate with your insurance company. For more information on insurance company tactics, such as Deny-Delay-Defend, visit Oregon Car Accidents –What You Need to Know.

Now for some advice about talking to the “other” Oregon car insurance company – DO NOT discuss your case with any other insurance company. You must realize that the other person’s insurance company is your adversary. They are trying to obtain comments from you that diminish their client’s liability, dispute fault or limit medical treatment.

See answers to other frequently asked questions relating to accidents and personal injuries, and learn how Mayor Law, LLC can help you today.