Injuries from auto collisions are the majority of cases I pursue. Motor vehicle incidents are, unfortunately, common occurrences. Of course, each one is different, from the fender-bender with minimal injuries to more serious collisions involving multiple vehicles, a semi-truck or a drunk driver. Below are some commonly asked questions regarding vehicle collisions.
- Compensation for your past, current and future medical expenses caused from the collision
- Repair or replacement of your vehicle or any other property that was damaged
- Medical treatment, regardless of whether you have insurance
- Wage loss, including time spent attending medical appointments or therapy
- Any change in your future earning capacity due to your injury
- Reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses incurred
- Rental reimbursement
- Obtain prompt medical attention for anyone who is injured. If you require emergency care, call an ambulance to be transported to a hospital. Otherwise, visit an urgent care facility or arrange to see your primary care doctor as soon as possible. Often injuries in vehicle incidents are not seen or felt immediately, particularly when your body has been traumatized, so be sure you are examined by a doctor without delay.
- Call the police and file an auto accident report. This will create a record of the facts and help determine who was at fault.
- Gather information at the scene. If you are able, take photos of the damage to the vehicles and obtain the names, address and phone numbers of any witnesses, police officers and insurance company representatives. Write down anything you can remember about how the collision occurred.
- Exchange insurance information with all other drivers. Any driver involved in a motor vehicle incident is required by law to do so. You must also file an accident report with the Department of Motor Vehicles if the damage to any vehicle involved exceeds $1,500 or any vehicle is towed from the scene; injury or death occurred from the incident; or damages to any property that is not a vehicle exceed $1,500. Filing a police report does not satisfy the requirement of filing a DMV accident report. You must do that yourself.
- Do not give statements to the insurance adjusters without first contacting an attorney. Information you give the insurance company can damage your case.
- A duty owed to you by the person who caused the injury existed;
- The person failed to carry out that duty;
- You suffered damages; and
- The person’s failure to use reasonable care caused you to have the injury.
If you were careless and your carelessness contributed to your injury, whether you may still recover damages depends on your percentage of fault under Oregon comparative negligence law. Oregon follows a modified comparative negligence fault rule, providing that if you were 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover any damages. If you were 50% or less at fault, you may recover damages, though the recovery will be reduced by your degree of fault.
If more than one person was negligent in your case, each person is responsible for a proportional amount of the total damages.
- Conduct an investigation to locate witnesses and preserve important evidence before it is lost or altered;
- Help you navigate obtaining the necessary medical treatment;
- Communicate with the insurance companies for you;
- Locate all potential sources of compensation for your losses; and
- Protect your legal rights against filing deadlines.
Remember, you should not rely on an insurance company–even your own–to protect your interests. Every insurance company has adjusters, investigators and attorneys assigned to auto claims. Their primary goal is to limit the amount they pay. Insurance companies are not the friends of injured auto collision claimants. Don’t make their job easier by providing information they can use or manipulate to deny your claim.