Auto Accidents Attorney Serving Portland, Oregon
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), in 2021, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 45,295 motor vehicle traffic crashes statewide. Of the total, 23,279 resulted in non-fatal injuries, 552 in fatalities, and 21,104 in property-only damages. In other words, you were more than half likely to be injured or killed in a traffic accident. The odds thus don’t favor your coming out of a crash without an injury, whether non-fatal or fatal.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a motor vehicle, contact me at Injury Lawyer PDX, LLC. As a personal injury and car accident attorney in Portland, Oregon, I have prior experience working for insurance companies and have since been representing clients in their claims and lawsuits for personal injuries for almost three decades.
Injury Lawyer PDX, LLC also proudly serves clients throughout the counties of Clackamas, Washington, Multnomah, Marion, Lincoln, and Tillamook.
Oregon Auto Accident Laws
When it comes to liability for auto accidents, Oregon is an at-fault – or tort – state, which means you can sue the at-fault driver for injuries and property damage. However, unlike most at-fault insurance states, Oregon also has adopted a feature found in auto insurance mandates in no-fault states – the requirement to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, with a minimum value of $15,000.
Your PIP coverage is designed to pay for your expenses stemming from any injuries you sustain in an accident, whether it’s the other driver’s fault or yours. It’s the first recourse for recovering compensation for medical expenses, lost wages due to time missed from work, and other related expenses. Unlike no-fault PIP coverage, however, there is no threshold that must be reached to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You can make a claim and file a lawsuit.
Auto Accidents in Oregon and Liability
Oregon, as noted, is an at-fault auto insurance state with the added provision for carrying PIP coverage. Thus, whether you’re injured as the driver of your own vehicle, as a passenger in a vehicle, as a person riding a bicycle who has auto insurance, or as a user of a rideshare service, you can initiate your claim for injuries under your PIP provision.
Motorcyclists, on the other hand, are not offered PIP coverage, so in that case, their claim would have to be against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, or they could file a personal injury lawsuit, or both.
PIP will cover economic losses only, not non-economic losses. Economic losses are those related to medical expenses and wages lost due to time off from work to recover. In addition, the PIP payout is limited by the coverage you purchase, and lost wages are usually paid at 70 percent only. Minimum PIP coverage is $15,000, but higher limits can be purchased.
Non-economic losses cover your pain and suffering and emotional anguish. These are not covered by PIP. If you want to recover non-economic damages, you must file a personal injury lawsuit. You are by law limited in time frame for filing such a lawsuit. Specifically, Oregon Revised Statutes section 12.110 says that "an action . . . for any injury to the person or rights of another . . . shall be commenced within two years."
Modified Comparative Negligence
Oregon also adheres to the standard known as modified comparative negligence, or fault, also known as the 51 percent rule. Under this standard, each party to an accident will be assigned a percentage of the fault.
Say you are rear-ended by a trailing driver, but your brake lights failed to function. You might be assigned 30 percent (or more or less) of the fault, and thus your settlement or award will be reduced by 30 percent. If you’re seeking $30,000, that means you could only receive $21,000. If your portion of the fault rises above 50 percent, then you can receive nothing -- thus the appellation 51 percent rule.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Even if you decide just to go the insurance route via PIP, or by filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance, you’re going to be confronted by what could be called a grilling by the insurer’s claims adjuster assigned to your case.
Claims adjusters are professionally trained to protect the parent company’s bottom line. This they do by trying to get the claimant to admit to some or all of the fault, which then allows the insurer to low-ball or deny the claim. They can also request the release of your medical history to see if you have a pre-existing condition that could be involved. Don’t sign anything without submitting it for review by an attorney.
While these tactics may or may not figure that large in a PIP claim, if you’re seeking compensation from the other driver’s insurer, you can rest assured that they’ll do everything to pin some or all of the fault on you. That’s why your best approach is to contact a personal injury attorney to handle all the questions and settlement negotiations, even in a PIP claim.
Auto Accident Attorney Serving Portland, Oregon
I’ve worked for the big insurers and I know their tactics, and for nearly three decades since I have been helping accident victims recover the just compensation due them. I can help in that regard as well. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in or around Portland, Oregon, contact me immediately at Injury Lawyer PDX, LLC.