Wrongful Death Suicide Case Featured in Newspaper Article

The Daily Astorian Newspaper recently featured a case where Jeremiah Ross and Ross Law represented the family of a woman who had committed suicide in Astoria, Oregon in a wrongful death action. The article Notes: 

"The family of a woman who jumped off the Astoria Bridge in 2015 has settled a wrongful death claim against Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare over her mental health treatment. The lawsuit alleged the mental health agency was negligent in caring for Carrie Barnhart, 54, who had a history of schizophrenia and depression.  The amount of the settlement is confidential.  Jeremiah Ross, a Portland attorney who represented Barnhart’s family, declined to comment."

3 Things Auto Insurers Don't Want You to Know About Your Whiplash Injury!

Most people in car crashes suffer some type of soft tissue injury.  Soft tissue injuries are injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the body.  Whiplash is a type of soft tissue or bony injury to the neck or brainstem caused by the sudden back and forth movement of the neck. These injure typically occur in rear end or side impact car crashes.  That movement rips, tears, and stretches the soft tissue in the neck, and can cause more severe injuries.  Some soft tissue injuries are minor and don't warrant medical treatment, while others can take months or years to heal.  Some soft tissue and whiplash injuries are permanent and may require surgical interventions.  Although these injuries are serious injuries, insurers regularly discount them.   Here are some things you should know about whiplash injuries that insurance companies don't want you to know:

1) Whiplash Injuries Are The Most Common Injury Associated with Motor Vehicle Crashes:  Insurers often discount claims of whiplash as malingering (making an injury up with the purpose of obtaining an award) or somatoform disorder (psychological issues causing physical symptoms).  They attempt to convince the injured person that they couldn't have suffered an injury that lasted for as long as it did.  Insurers for the bad driver often make the injured person feel as if they are the only person to have whiplash symptoms last as long as they did or were as severe as they were.  This is an effort to attempt to convince the injured person that the crash could not have injured them. However, the insurer is wrong.  Whiplash injuries are not unique.  In fact, up to 83% of people involved in a car crash suffer from whiplash injuries.   Medical studies have shown these are real injuries that can dramatically impact a person's life and health.

MRI and Whiplash Injury

2) Whiplash Injuries Do Not Typically Show Up on an X-Ray:  Insurance adjusters will often note that the Emergency Room X-Rays of the neck are unremarkable and do not show any evidence of injury.  Adjusters may attempt to convince the injured person that the crash didn't cause a whiplash injury because there is not any "objective" evidence of it (think X-Ray, or broken bone, misalignment of bones, etc.).  However, studies show  X-Rays do not typically show soft tissue injuries to the neck and whiplash type injuries.  However, MRI studies may show the soft tissue and whiplash type injuries.  However, MRI's may come with their own problems of high false positive results, and cannot see all pain associated lesions.  CT scans may be able to show some, but not all whiplash injuries.  However, they are costly and are not always readily available.  Other tests may not show injury.  This information is important because adjusters know that the injuries are real, but technology may not show these injuries.   A medical provider (Doctor, Osteopath, or Chiropractor) can diagnose whiplash injuries based on other objective findings without the need for imaging.   Insurers know this, but may try and convince you otherwise. 

3) Whiplash Injuries Can Be Permanent:  Insurance adjusters commonly say that the crash caused whiplash injury should have healed within 12 to 16 weeks.  They explain the lingering pain on "pre-existing" or age-related conditions. However, this ignores the science and studies that have shown that there is no scientific basis to assert whiplash injuries do not lead to chronic pain or permanent injuries.  These are real injuries that can be permanent

Hopefully, this information will assist you in combating an insurance agent to assist you in obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries.  However, if you are unsuccessful efforts or have questions for a personal injury lawyer, call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury consultations. Ross Law PDX represents personal injury clients throughout Portland and Oregon.  PLEASE ASK A DOCTOR ABOUT YOUR WHIPLASH INJURY.  This post is meant for information purposes only and SHOULD NOT be RELIED UPON as or construed as medical advice, or legal advice.   Please remember that every injury is different and all legal cases are different.   

What People Injured in a Crash Should Know About Oregon's Minimum Auto Insurance Limits

I often represent people that have been injured by a bad driver that told them at the scene, "don't worry I have full coverage."  This term really doesn't mean much in the world of personal injury law.   Oregon has specific requirements regarding what should be in automobile insurance policies such as personal injury protection benefits (PIP), uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. The law also imposes the minimum limits for each bodily injury insurance policy in Oregon.  The relevant law on minimum insurance limits provides:

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     ORS 806.070 Minimum payment schedule. (1) This section establishes a schedule of payments for the following purposes:

      (a) An insurance policy described under ORS 806.080 must provide for payment of at least amounts necessary to cover the minimum required payments under this section to qualify for use for financial responsibility under ORS 806.060.

      (b) A person who is self-insured under ORS 806.130 must agree to pay according to the payment schedule established by this section.

      (c) The payment schedule is the minimum required payment of a judgment for purposes of ORS 809.020, 809.130 and 809.415.

      (2) The schedule of payments is as follows:

      (a) $25,000 because of bodily injury to or death of one person in any one accident;

      (b) Subject to that limit for one person, $50,000 because of bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in any one accident; and

      (c) $20,000 because of injury to or destruction of the property of others in any one accident. 

What this means for most injured people is that if they have a crash caused injury, the maximum they may be able to collect from the bad driver is a mere $25,000.00.  This sounds like a lot of money.  However, $25,000.00 can go quickly if you incur crash caused medical bills and are missing work. 

If you and two or three other people were injured in the same crash, the bad driver will only pay a combined total $50,000.00 to the injured people.  That will be divided up between them.   A lawyer should be involved if that is the case.  These are also important numbers when you are dealing with the bad driver's insurance company. 

If you or someone you know has been injured in an Oregon car crash, call Portland personal injury lawyer Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law PDX provides free personal injury consultations. Please remember Oregon's personal injury laws and insurance laws are constantly changing.  DO NOT Solely rely on this post for information, look at the current law. Please consult with a lawyer.  This post is not intended to be legal advice and can be considered attorney advertising. 

Dealing with Insurance Companies After an Oregon Car Crash

I regularly get calls from people that are injured in a crash.  The basic scenario is that the person is injured in the crash by a bad driver.  The bad driver's insurance company calls the injured person and gets a recorded statement.  The bad driver's insurance company then convinces the injured person to sign documents to permit the bad driver's insurance company to obtain the injured person's medical records. Then the bad driver's insurance company makes a low-ball offer and tells the injured person that is the best they can do.   Usually, that is when the injured person gets suspicious and reaches out to a personal injury lawyer such as myself.

Some people take the offer and later regret it and then reach out to a personal injury lawyer.  People can save themselves a lot of headaches, anxiety, and stress if they simply call a personal injury lawyer beforehand.  However, some people don't want to deal with a lawyer.  If that is the case the three tips below may assist you in trying to settle the case with the insurance company:

1) You Do Not Have to Give a Recorded Statement to the Bad Driver's Insurance Company:   Many insurance companies hire pleasant sounding people to call you to get you to commit to a recorded statement.  There are numerous reasons insurance companies do this, but one of the main reasons is they are sizing you up and trying to figure out how to get their insured off the hook with paying as little as possible.  For example, insurers know that soft tissue damages may take a couple of days before the pain really intensifies.   If they get a recorded statement the day of the crash or morning after, the injured person may say they are not really hurt.  The insurance company will rely on that later when deciding what to offer the injured person.  Click Here for more information.  What do you do then?  Simple, don't give a recorded statement.  If you want to resolve your case you can use the Oregon Crash Report as the factual basis to inform the insurance company what occurred. You can forward the insurance the relevant crash-related medical records and bills as evidence of your crash-related injuries.  That should give the insurance company sufficient information to make an offer. 

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2) You do Not Have to Sign a Medical Release Allowing the Bad Driver's Insurer Access to Your Medical Records:  Insurance companies mine for dirt in medical records.  They are looking for pre-existing injuries to the same body part, something that may cause the injured person embarrassment or other medical complications that they can rely on to justify making a low-ball offer. Insurance companies do this by having people sign medical releases and general releases and asking for a list of medical providers.  Then they send out these releases to all of your medical records and scour them so they can justify their low-ball offer.  What do you do?  You can control the information the insurance company receives.  You can get your crash-related medical bills and records from your medical providers (doctors, chiropractors, licensed massage therapist, etc.) or through other sources.   Then you can forward them to the bad driver's insurance company.

3) The Insurance Company Can  Make a Lousy Offer, Your Remedy Is to Sue the Bad Driver:      I regularly get calls from people that are frustrated with dealing with the bad driver's insurer.  The bad driver's insurer has deployed all sorts of tactics to inject as much anxiety and frustration into the settlement process.  The bad driver's insurer often will switch adjusters, claim to have not received information, and claimed to not have received communications.  These tactics are usually deployed once the negotiations begin and the insurer realizes they can't get the injured person to take their terrible low-ball offer.  The insurer may also make outlandish claims or get grumpy and mean on the phone and refuse to engage in true settlement negotiations. What do you do?  You sue the bad driver.  You have that right.  A lawsuit is a powerful tool, that is why lawyers can typically receive better pre-filing offers.  Insurers know that the lawyer should have the knowledge and skill to file a lawsuit if negotiations break down.  Many lay-people do not have the knowledge and skills to do that, so they don't have any leverage in negotiations.

Hopefully, these tips will help people that have been injured in a crash on Oregon's roads. Please remember it is advised to speak with an Oregon personal injury lawyer immediately after a crash to ensure your rights and remedies are protected. Ross Law PDX and Jeremiah Ross are happy to provide a free personal injury case evaluation. Please call Ross Law at 503.224.1658.  Do NOT SIMPLY rely on this post in an effort to maximize the value of your case, there are many nuances, traps, and pitfalls that cannot be addressed in a blog post.  Please remember the statute of limitations may preclude you from filing a personal injury lawsuit. Also, your rights and obligations are different when dealing with your own insurer, especially on a PIP claim.  This post is not intended to be legal advice and is considered Attorney Advertising. 

 

PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Penalties for Using Your Phone and Driving Are Increasing

I have written a few articles on the dangers of texting and driving.   Last year bills were passed in Oregon that were intended to curb the distracted driving epidemic.   The new law closed a loophole regarding texting and driving so that it prevents people from driving with a mobile device in their hands.  More importantly, the Oregon law raised the penalties for people that can't resist the urge to use their mobile device while driving a vehicle. 

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The new law takes effect on July 1, 2018, and will subject some violators to a fine of up to $2,500.00 and six months in jail.  More specifically if a habitual distracted driver is convicted of three offenses in ten years they will face a fine of $2,500.00  and six months in jail. First-time offenders are looking at a minimum of a $130.00 fine.   (Click here to read more on distracted driving penalties.)

It is a no-brainer that it is unsafe to use a mobile device and drive, but people still do not get it.  People know that distracting driving kills people.  People know they can be fined.  People also know that personal injury lawyers like myself will use the civil justice system to hold distracted drivers accountable.  However, drivers continue to use their mobile devices while driving.  Hopefully, this new law will help pound it into people's heads that distracted driving will not be tolerated.  It is simply too dangerous. 

If you, or someone you know, has been involved in a car crash with a person that was using their phone while driving, call Portland personal injury lawyer Jeremiah Ross.  Ross Law PDX offers free case evaluations to persons injured in car crashes on Oregon's roads.   Please do not use this post as legal advice, as the law is constantly changing. Please consult with a lawyer if you are involved in an incident involving distracted driving.  Please remember this blog may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

Ross Law Filed 2 Lawsuits Last Month Against The Same Car Dealer

May was a busy month for Ross Law PDX.  We filed multiple lawsuits on behalf of personal injury clients and auto fraud and consumer clients.  It is rare to file multiple lawsuits against a single car dealer in a month, but it happened. We filed two lawsuits against Cascade Auto Inc alleging violations of Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act and other statutory violations arising out of the purchase and sale of two separate motor vehicles.  Both of the lawsuits allege Cascade Auto Inc. sold a vehicle with a material defect that the dealer knew or should have known about.   One client was forced to file a lawsuit because Cascade Auto Inc. refused to honor the arbitration agreement they directed our client sign at the time of the vehicle purchase.   

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If you or someone you know was ripped off by an Oregon Car dealer call auto fraud and lemon law lawyer Jeremiah Ross.  Ross Law PDX represents consumers who have purchased lemons or vehicles with material defects, have been victims of yo-yo sales or other car financing schemes, and other cases involving the purchase and sale of a motor vehicle from an Oregon Car dealer.

Be Safe This Memorial Day Weekend!

39.3 million people are expected to travel in the U.S. this Memorial Day weekend.   These travelers will travel by car, plane, boat, and train.   The vast majority of travelers are going to hit the road and drive to their destination.  This increased traffic is likely to increase the risk of people being injured and killed on Oregon's roads.  However, the roads are not the only dangers people should be aware of.  Every year people (usually children) get seriously injured in incidents involving barbecues and fire-pits.   Many people will also put their boats in the water for the first time this year.   Boat crashes are not uncommon.  It also seems like almost every year people drown in Oregon's beautiful rivers and lakes.   Most of these incidents are avoidable if people exercise common sense, and don't drink too much alcohol. Please exercise common sense and be aware of the dangers that are out there this weekend as you are celebrating Memorial Day.

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If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of another, call Oregon personal injury attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for your free case evaluation.  Ross Law PDX represents people in various types of personal injury cases throughout Oregon.  Please remember this post could be considered personal injury attorney advertising.