Oregon Car Accident FAQs
I have been in an Oregon car accident, what are my legal responsibilities?
Answer: At the time of the Oregon car accident you are required to STOP – Render Aid – Exchange Information – Report the Accident. Whether your injuries seem relatively minor or are very serious, the first and most important thing to do is seek immediate medical attention for you and anyone involved in the accident. You may not feel any immediate pain as your body attempts to “cope” with the situation. Once you have had a chance to recover from the stress and adrenaline produced from the accident, you may feel symptoms. Be safe – call 9-1-1.
Under no circumstances should you leave the Oregon car accident site or aggravate an already emotional experience.
If the accident is serious, resulting in physical, bodily injury, death, or extensive damage to a vehicle or other property (i.e. more than $1,500 in damage), then you MUST notify law enforcement and remain at the scene of the accident until a police officer arrives.
Failure to report the accident to the Oregon DMV will lead to a citation, and failing to stop at the accident site is classified as a “Hit and Run,” and punishable with serious penalties.
If you are able, you are required by law to exchange information with the other driver, passengers in the vehicle, or any other injured pedestrian or property owner. The necessary information to exchange is your name, address, driver license number, license plate number, and insurance information (insurance company name and policy number). While this is the minimum information required, it is always best to gather additional details including witness information, description of the damage, pictures of the damage and the accident scene, and a description of what happened. Focus on the immediate safety of all persons involved in the accident, rendering medical assistance, notifying law enforcement (Call 9-1-1), and exchanging information.
Lastly, if the accident causes any injury or death, or results in more than $1,500 damage to any vehicle or property, or if a vehicle is towed from the accident scene, Oregon law requires you to file an Oregon Accident and Insurance Report directly with the Oregon DMV within 72 hours (three days). Accident report forms and detailed instructions are available at police departments, sheriff offices, DMV field offices, and on DMV’s website.
I’m being pressured to provide a recorded statement and sign a medical release by both insurance companies — must I do so?
Answer: You are under no obligation to discuss the car accident or your medical treatment with the other driver’s insurance company, and in fact, doing so could hurt your claim. Do NOT talk to the other driver’s insurance company or give them a recorded statement!
You do need to notify your insurance company about the Oregon car accident and provide basic information about the accident to start the claims process. You are contractually obligated to cooperate with your insurance company. The best approach is to authorize a Portland Personal Injury Attorney to represent you and deal with the process of obtaining your economic recovery while you deal with your medical recovery. Once you have retained your Personal Injury Attorney, do not give anyone from an insurance company (including your own) a written or recorded statement AND do not sign any documents from the insurance company.
Tip: Refer the insurance company representatives to your attorney. Once you hire an attorney, you no longer have to deal directly with insurance adjusters.
It is important to understand that insurance companies are billion dollar businesses seeking to minimize the amount paid out on each claim, including yours. Without the aid of a personal injury lawyer, the insurance company will likely attempt to get you to accept a low-ball settlement offer or to agree to things which do not accurately reflect what really happened, or the true nature of the injuries sustained in the accident. As a former insurance defense attorney, I can assure you, your insurance company has a structured “settlement process and strategy” designed to minimize the amount paid out in every accident injury case. It is smart for them to approach the settlement process in this manner, but it probably will not produce a FAIR settlement for you. Your legal team must be as professional and knowledgeable as the other side and possess the ability, resources, and experience to obtain the best settlement, even if that means battling in court.
What do I do if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage to cover my losses?
Answer: It is not unusual to find yourself involved in an Oregon car accident where the at-fault driver maintains only the minimum insurance coverages required to drive a vehicle in Oregon. If this is the case, then a portion of your Under-Insured Motorist (UIM) coverage may be used to cover any additional costs above the minimum coverage ($25,000) provided by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
I have been injured in an Oregon car accident, who will pay my medical bills?
Answer: If you have been involved in a serious Oregon personal injury accident, then you know your first priority is to deal with your medical treatments, recovery, and paying mounting medical bills. Because Oregon requires mandatory PIP coverage, your starting point for paying those medical expenses will be either your PIP insurance or your primary health insurance provider.
What happens if I use all of my PIP benefits and need more medical treatments?
Answer: With the average injury accident costing $126,000 you may quickly exhaust the minimum $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 Car Accident 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.
How do I get reimbursed for property damage incurred in an Oregon car accident?
Answer: Collision insurance is the type of insurance that covers the cost of repairing (or replacing) your vehicle after it was involved in an Oregon car accident. This coverage is not mandatory in Oregon and must be specifically included in your insurance policy. If you are not covered by collision insurance, then the cost of repairing your vehicle is your responsibility. In some cases, it may be determined that you were partially at fault, in which case you may have to partially pay for repairs to your car.
Assuming you have collision coverage or are not the at-fault driver, then most vehicle repairs can be successfully resolved by dealing directly with either your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurance company will directly pay for the repairs to your vehicle resulting from the Oregon car accident (if the cost of repairs does not exceed the value of the vehicle). It is your right to have your vehicle repaired to pre-accident condition. Even when your vehicle is repaired, it may be worth less than it was just prior to the crash due to the stigma of being damaged. In these situations, Oregon law allows you to pursue recovery of the difference between the pre-accident value of your vehicle and the post-repair value in a diminished value claim. Even though the insurance company will make recommendations where you should have your car repaired, you have a say in the matter and have the right to select the repair shop of your choice. This is important as some shops yield lower costs by not using OEM parts, but substituting “knock-off” or used parts. If the repair costs exceed the value of the car, then the insurance company will deem your vehicle a “total loss,” in which case you are entitled to recover the fair market value of your vehicle plus tax and title costs. This means that you are entitled to the amount it would cost you to buy your exact vehicle in the marketplace. Although vehicle valuation services are helpful, such as Kelley Blue Book and NADA, the best measures of your vehicle’s worth are dealer prices, classified ads, and auto advertisements for similar vehicles. Lastly, you may be entitled to a rental car while your car is being repaired or evaluated for a total loss.
Where can I learn more about understanding car accident insurance coverage?
Answer: You can read more about understanding car accident insurance coverage in our FAQs.
Where can I learn more about what to do if I’ve been involved in an Oregon car accident?
Answer: You can read more about what to do if you have been involved in an Oregon car accident by reading “Oregon Car Accidents: A Guide To Protecting Yourself And Maximizing Your Chances Of Financial Recovery.” In this guide step you through key aspects of understanding your obligations and responsibilities in an accident and how you can effectively recover from accident losses in injuries.
Do I need an Oregon personal injury attorney to represent me or can I deal directly with the insurance company adjusters?
Answer: There is no simple answer to this complex question. The answer depends on many factors such as:
- Complexity of the accident – a simple fender bender where fault is clear, versus a hit-and-run with serious injuries;
- Type of damage – property only, versus bodily injury or wrongful death;
- Settlement process – negotiate with an insurance adjuster, versus pursue arbitration or litigation with a jury trial;
- Financial settlement goal – pay for damage to my car, versus recover lost wages and future expenses for medical treatments;
- Personal Risk – none, my insurance will cover the damages, versus the guy that hit me is underinsured;
- Negotiation approach – I have the time and knowledge to negotiate, versus a team of legal professionals who have extensive experience in dealing with insurance companies and their legal teams;
- Monetary value needed to recover – small, less than $10,000, versus million dollar settlements.
Our recommendation is to always speak with an experienced Portland Personal Injury Attorney to evaluate your specific case factors, your situation, and the appropriateness of retaining a lawyer. Remember, when you deal directly with an insurance company, you are dealing with a large, corporate entity, specifically staffed with specialists trained in techniques to minimize the value of your claims. They employee many techniques that are very effective in reducing the value of their offers to you. You can read about numerous examples of case results were settlement offers increased by a factor of ten or more when clients have legal representation. Do not give up your only leverage in dealing with an insurance company, you’re right to sue. We provide an initial free consultation and personal injury case evaluation for all potential clients and will give you an honest assessment of the case including a potential value and strategy to win your case.