Don't Drive While Holding Your Phone! New Stiff Penalties Are Soon To Be In Effect.

We all know that using your phone while driving is a dangerous activity.  However, despite the data, the education, and the advancements in technology, people still continue to use their mobile phones while driving. This increases the dangers of getting in a crash, and you can get ticketed and fined.  Using a cellular phone or other hand held device while driving may also make you vulnerable to a claim for punitive damages if you injure someone as a result of distracted driving.  

You or your insurance company may have to pay tens of thousands of dollars more for injuring someone because you chose to break the law and drive with your cell phone.   Despite these deterrents it wasn't enough.  Oregon Law Makers decided to get tough on drivers using their smartphones and enacted new laws increasing the penalties.  Below is what you need to know:

When do stiffer penalties and the new law come into effect?  October 1, 2017. 

What did the old law prohibit?  The old law prohibited talking on your phone without a hands free device or texting while driving. However, their was a gaping loophole that allowed people to use their phones to access the internet, driving directions, checking and responding to emails or entertainment.  

What can I legally do on my phone while driving?   You can talk on your phone with a hands free device.  However you cannot touch or hold your phone while driving.   The new law prohibits drivers from using any feature or app on their phone that require holding or touching the phone.

Can I use GPS or a Tablet and Drive?  No, the law applies to all electronic devices including GPS, tablets, laptops, smartphones, and cellular phones. 

Do I have to turn my car off to hold my phone and use its features?  No, you just need to have the vehicle lawfully parked and off the road. Stopping in a traffic jam, at a stop sign, or a traffic light does not count as being parked. 

How Do I Use Navigation Features While Driving?   You can still rely on your phone or other devices for navigation.  However, you need to input the data (address, location, etc) prior to driving.  Also, you tap the screen once, you simply cannot hold the phone.  The apps you rely on must be able to be operated hands-free.  This means that you can't be holding the phone. The same goes for other devices.  

How much is the fine for unlawfully using a device while driving?  The first presumptive fine is $260.00.  If you cause a crash while breaking the no driving and using your electronic device law you will face a presumptive fine of $435.00.  If you are stubborn enough to continue to use your electronic device/phone while driving and are convicted three times in ten years you will be facing a misdemeanor charge.  You would then be facing 6 months in jail and a $2500.00 fine. 

Can I still get sued if I get a ticket for using my phone while driving and I caused a crash?  Yes, you will likely have to deal with a personal injury attorney like myself that represents the injured driver if you injure someone while driving and using your phone.  

Where can I locate the new law?  Look at ORS 811.507 (2017) and any appellate decisions addressing that law for guidance.   

If you have additional questions regarding using your hand-held device and driving please call Portland Oregon personal injury lawyer Jeremiah Ross. Ross Law LLC is dedicated to helping change Oregonian's behavior by holding negligent driver's accountable.  If you or someone you know has been injured by a person that may have been using their phone call Ross Law at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury consultation.  Please do not rely solely on this post.  This post is not intended to be legal advice and you should look at the text of the law (ORS 811.507) (2017) and any appellate decisions interpreting the law. 

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Clues That Your Elderly Loved One Shouldn't Be Behind The Wheel

There comes a point in each of our lives where we must stop doing things we love simply due to our age.  Driving is one of those things that even if you do not love doing it, if you live long enough, you are likely going to have to give it up.  Most of us have elderly relatives, but we may not be sure when is the time you should have "the hang up your keys talk" with them.  This talk is so important due to the dangers elderly drivers posed.  Yesterday an elderly driver killed her elderly passenger in aparking lot crash!   

These incidents are happening far too often and it is because we do not realize or loved ones are unsafe, or we don't take the necessary steps to get them off the road.  Below are some clues from the National Institute on Aging that may help you recognize when you should take steps to get an elderly driver off the road. 

1)  Look for Evidence of Multiple Crashes or near misses:  Even minor crashes that occur in parking lots should be concerning.  If you notice your elderly loved one's vehicle has dents and scratches then that should be an indication they are hitting things and maybe they shouldn't be on the road.   If the elderly driver is constantly mentioning a near miss with another vehicle, that may be an indicator that they are having issues safely driving.

2) You Hear Comments from Others:  Many people will joke about their experiences with their elderly driving relative, friend, or neighbor.  However, many of these comments or jokes are grounded in truth.  If you hear these comments then ask more questions to determine the facts surrounding them.  If you confirm there is an issue you should have the talk about whether or not the elderly driver should continue driving.

3) The Elderly Driver Quits Driving At Night:   Quitting driving at night may be a good first step.  However, this may be the symptom of a larger issue.  You should ask why the elderly driver quit driving at night and have a medical professional evaluate the person to ensure they are safe to drive during the day.

4) Health Issues That Affect Driving:  If your elderly friend or loved one is having issues remembering things, or can't move quickly then that may be an indicator they shouldn't be driving.   Driving is a complex task that requires a person to physically and mentally be involved at all times.  If there is a medical issue that substantially impairs either their mental or physical abilities then the elderly person should probably not be driving.

5Complaints that Others Are Driving Too Fast:  Many elderly drivers stay off the highway if they can.  They may also complain other drivers drive too fast or change lanes abruptly.  This should be a clue the elderly driver does not feel comfortable on the road.  We have all seen the elderly driver that is going 50 MPH in a 65 MPH zone.  That is most likely because that is the speed they feel comfortable at.  However, that is an issue, because they should feel comfortable at driving all speeds, including the posted 65 MPH.  This may be a reason to talk to the driver about whether or not they feel safe driving on the road.  If not, then they should most likely hang up the keys. 

If you need more information regarding elderly drivers click here.  Please consult with a medical professional or the DMV if you have questions regarding whether it is safe for your elderly friend or loved one to be on the road.   Please do not rely solely on this post.  However, feel free to call Portland Oregon personal injury attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 if you have additional questions.   If you or someone you know has been injured by an elderly driver call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.  This Post may be considered attorney advertising.

When Should An Elderly Driver Stop Driving?

Many elderly folks rely on their vehicles as their only source of transportation.  These folks regularly get behind the wheel just as the rest of us do.  However, there is a point where everyone needs to realize they are not physically and mentally able to perform the complex task of driving a vehicle anymore.   All too often we read about crashes where an elderly person crashes into a building because they confuse the brake and gas pedal, or makes some other unexplainable error.  Many of these incidents are minor and thankfully no one gets injured. However, some folks are not that lucky.  

Yesterday a 94-year-old driver killed her 92-year-old passenger in a parking lot crash.  The 94-year-old backed into a car in the parking lot, then suddenly accelerated into a tree causing the car to flip over.   This crash killed the 92-year-old driver.   This is an awful tragedy that could have likely been prevented if the 94-year-old had realized she shouldn't be on the road. Many people know they are having difficulties, but are too stubborn to admit it and stop driving.   This can lead to the tragic outcomes.  This can also lead to claims for punitive damages against the elderly driver or their estate. 

Here are some tips from the National Institute of Aging if you are worried about your driving:

1) You May Have to Stop Driving Due to Joint Stiffness Or Pain:  See a doctor if you are having stiffness or pain when you drive.  If you can't drive without pain or stiffness it may be time to hand over the keys.  This is due to the fact that the pain is going to prevent you from performing tasks such as moving the steering wheel, pressing the pedals, turning your head to check your mirrors.  These tasks must be performed without impairment.

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2) If You Can't See Clearly You May Have to Hand over the Keys:  Vision issues affect most everyone, including myself.  However, if a person cannot see clearly even with glasses they shouldn't be on the road.

3) Your Hearing Troubles May Make You An Unsafe Driver:  Driving is a complex task that requires almost all of our senses. We rely on hearing to alert us to dangers and to hear sirens and commands.  If you can't hear clearly and are unable to make adjustments to compensate for the loss of hearing then it may not be a great idea to drive. 

4) Your Medical Issues or Age Affect Your Mental Abilities:  Many people suffer from memory issues, dementia, Alzheimer's, routine minor strokes, or seizures.  These can be deadly diseases if a person gets behind the wheel because the illnesses will impair the person's ability to safely drive.  Aging also affects your reflexes and reaction time.  These cases are tragic when an elderly person kills or injures another due to their mental issues, or simply not having the reflexes to safely drive.  If you are at an age where your mental issues are impairing your driving you should probably stay off the road.  

5) Your Medications May Impair Your Driving:  Medications can cause you to be an impaired driver.  This means you are committing the same crime as a person that chugs a six pack and hits the road.   If you cause a crash then you will likely be arrested and convicted of DUII.  However, your main concern should be that you may injure or kill someone as a result of ingesting your prescribed medication.  Follow the warnings and doctors advice.  If you have to take medication that makes it unsafe to drive, then do not drive.

If you have more questions about elderly drivers feel free to call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  If you, or someone you know, has been injured by an elderly driver call Portland Personal Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law gives a free case evaluation for personal injury clients.  DO NOT RELY SOLELY ON THIS POST TO DETERMINE IF YOU SHOULD BE DRIVING, SEE YOUR MEDICAL PROVIDER OR THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES.   This post could be considered attorney advertising. 

Seven Things That May Increase the Value of Your Personal Injury Case

You have just been in a crash and your friend tells you they had the same injury and the insurance company offered $50,000.00.  The bad driver's insurance company has only offered you $25,000.00.  How can that be?   It is simple, insurance Companies and Personal Injury Lawyers all look at the specific facts of the case to put a value on the case.   In some cases, the injured person can increase the value of their case by taking action.  In other cases, the value of the case is increased due to the facts and circumstances that are outside the control of anyone.  The list below is a brief run down of things that may increase the value of your case:

1) You Have Well Documented Regular Medical Treatment:  Insurance companies and personal injury lawyers rely heavily on the medical records as one factor to put a value on a personal injury case.  If you receive regular well documented medical treatment from a reputable treatment provider you will likely increase the value of your case.  This is due to the fact the medical treatment provider can usually articulate the negligence caused injuries and how they are affecting the injured person.  People that do not seek medical treatment or have long gaps in treatment will usually have a reduced case value. 

2) How Your Injury Occurred:  The facts of how the injury occurred can often increase the value of your case.  If you were injured in a high-speed crash the case will usually be more valuable than a low-speed parking lot crash, even if the injuries are similar.   In dangerous premises cases, the facts can substantially increase the value of a case.  If you were hit in the head by merchandise falling off of a shelf your case will typically be more valuable than a case involving a person that slips on a wet floor. These are things you have little or no control over, but they can add value to the case. 

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3) The Person or Entity that Injured You:  If a mean, grumpy, angry person crashes into you, your case is probably worth more than if a nice, pleasant, calm person crashes into you.  If you are injured by corporate negligence your case may be worth more than if you were injured by the negligence of a real person. 

4)  You Were Injured by Someone Being Reckless or Breaking the Law:  If you were injured by a person or corporations acting recklessly or breaking the law your case will be worth more than a person that makes an honest mistake and injures you.  For example, if you were injured by a DUII driver your case will be more valuable than if you were injured by a sober driver.  If you were injured by a corporation that consistently has broken the law, then your case will likely be worth more.  If this occurs, you may also be entitled to punitive damages that will likely increase the value of your case. 

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5)  How You Present: If you are honest, friendly, and reasonable your case will likely be more valuable than a person that has negative attributes. Personal Injury cases are about the people involved.  Juries and insurance companies are likely to put more value on a case where they like you and believe in you and your case.   If they think you are lying, over-exaggerating your injury, or you are not likable they will likely reduce the value of your case.  I will not take a case if I suspect you are lying or malingering, and most Oregon personal injury attorneys have the same policy.

6) Having a Lawyer Represent You:  In many cases having a personal injury lawyer representing you will increase the value of your case.  There are many reasons for this and it usually makes sense to hire a personal injury lawyer.   However, you should always speak with a personal injury lawyer if you were in a crash. It usually is free. You can call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658 for your Free Case Evaluation.  Click here for answers to attorney fee questions.

7) The Insurance Company Representing the Person or Company that Injured You:  Certain Insurance Companies are more willing to pay fair compensation for injuries than others.  Some insurance companies in Oregon are terrible and consistently make "low ball" settlement offers.  Other insurance companies are more reasonable are willing to negotiate.  

 If you still have questions call Portland Personal Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658. You can also click here for more information about the value of your personal injury case.   Ross Law LLC is happy to give you a free personal injury consultation.   Please remember there are numerous variables affecting the value of your case.  The list above are some things that may increase the value of your case, but everyone's case is different.  Call a personal injury attorney if you have questions rather than relying solely on this post.  Also, this post may be considered Attorney Advertising.  

Be Safe This Labor Day Weekend!

The Oregonian published a fantastic article informing people how to stay out of the hospital this Labor Day.  It is a good read, but here are some of the highlights:

Be Safe Boating and Swimming:  Bottom Line is do not get in a river or lake without a life jacket.  Even excellent swimmers can cramp up, be stunned by cold water, or encounter an unanticipated danger.  Life Jackets are a necessary insurance policy for those on the water.   Also, Boating under the influence is deadly.   People are injured and killed every year in boating crashes that were caused by Boating Under the Influence.  

Avoid Bike Crashes-As an attorney representing injured cyclist, I see the same types of incidents. Most bike verse car crashes are caused by the vehicle driver not seeing the cyclist.  The article notes bike injuries can be serious.  Skull fractures, pelvis fractures, rib fractures, and extremity fractures, and internal organ injuries, can all happen in a split second from a driver or cyclist not paying attention.  These crashes can be catastrophic, so pay attention.  Cyclist need to remember bright clothing and to use their lights at night.

Drinking and Driving Crashes-As a personal injury attorney I have represented people that were victims of DUII crashes.  These people were minding their own business driving down the road when a person chose to consume too many alcoholic beverages and crashed into them.  Many of these crashes happen at high speeds and can be deadly or debilitating.  

These are just a few of the dangers that increase during the summer months.  If you or someone you know have been injured due to the negligence of another call personal injury lawyer Jeremiah Ross at 503.2241658.  Ross Law LLC is a Portland Oregon personal injury law firm that is not affiliated with the Oregonian.  This blog may be considered attorney advertising. 

Salvaged Cars Flooding into Oregon

Hurricane Harvey is currently pummeling the Texas Coast line.  Buckets of rain have fallen and are expected to continue to fall over the next couple of days.  Major cities have flooded.  People have left their homes in search of safety until the rain and flooding subsides.  Once the rain stops the clean up will begin. Katrina and Sandy have taught us that clean up can take years.  There are entire industries dedicated to natural disaster clean up. Of particular concern is the industry that has evolved to remove and resell the hundreds of thousands of flood vehicles.

Flood vehicles are vehicles that have been in flood areas and the vast majority of them have been partially submerged for a period of time.  These vehicles can develop terrible mechanical and electrical issues even though they may look great.  I have litigated cases involving Hurricane Sandy cars being sold in, or through, Oregon.  Throughout that litigation, I learned how thousands of cars get out of the flood zone and are resold throughout the country.  

First, an insurance company representative typically will go through neighborhoods seeking out homes and vehicles that are insured by their insurance company.  The insurance company employee, or subcontractor, then briefly inspects the vehicle.  The insurance company often renders the vehicle a total loss on the spot.  Then the insurance company immediately initiates the process to total the vehicle and title it as a Flood Vehicle. The vehicles are then transported from the neighborhood to a large holding area.  Thousands of vehicles are then auctioned off and sold around the Country and the world.  Some of the vehicles will wind up in Oregon.

Prior to coming to Oregon, some of the titles may be washed.  Title Washing is a process where a vehicle with a branded title, such as a Flood Vehicle, will be titled in a state that may issue a clean title to that vehicle. Then the vehicle is re-sold and may wind up at your local used car dealer.  The new Title will not be a "branded" or a "Flood" title, so consumers will not be alerted the vehicle will likely have serious electrical or mechanical issues.  

Some dealers will rip consumers off in a more brazen fashion.  These dealers simply take the consumer's money and then provide the branded title after the funds have cleared. Then the dealer claims they informed the buyer that the vehicle was a flood vehicle.  Dealers often have unwary consumers sign a piece of paper noting the vehicle maybe a flood or salvaged vehicle, However, the dealer will simply state this is a standard form.  Then once the salvaged title is provided to the consumer, the dealer uses the document as a defense to claim the consumer knew of the branded title

Buyers need to beware of flood vehicles over the next few years.   If a consumer unknowingly purchases a flood vehicle, then the seller may be liable for the violations of various State or Federal Laws.   

What you Can Do To Try And Ensure You Do Not Purchase a Flood Damaged Car:  It is important for Oregon Consumers to inspect any vehicle they may buy.  That great deal on Craigslist may actually be a terrible deal for a car that is plagued with electrical issues.   Oregonians should inspect the vehicle.  Consumers should examine underneath the vehicle to ensure there are not any mineral deposits, a "silt line," or significant mud.  The headlights may have mud or debris lines inside of them.  The interior and trunk should be inspected for any discoloration that indicates flooding.  If the vehicle smells funny (either of mold or heavy chemicals) that may be an indication of flooding.  The consumer should turn on and off all of the lights and radio, and operate any electrical features (windows, sunroof, rear windshield wiper)to ensure they all function properly.  

The consumer should also pull a title history report from Carfax or AutoCheck to determine: 1) if the vehicle has a branded title, and 2) to determine if the vehicle is from Texas.  However, these reports are not always accurate so they shouldn't solely be relied upon.   If the vehicle was bought or sold at a "Copart" auction yard that is a big red flag that the vehicle had a salvaged title. These tips may assist consumer's in protecting themselves from buying a flood car, but it may not completely protect you.

If you, or someone you know, purchased a vehicle that you believe is a flood vehicle, lemon, or has a salvaged title, then call Jeremiah Ross for your free case evaluation.  Call Oregon Lemon Law lawyer Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.  Please remember this is attorney advertising. 

Eclipse Traffic Hazards and Crashes

The Eclipse has come and gone, but people have begun leaving the "zone of totality."   State officials have warned of significant traffic issues due to the eclipse visitors heading home after the viewing.  Also, numerous people pulled off the side of the road to view the eclipse and will simultaneously get back on the road. These traffic jams can result in many rear end collisions, road rage incidents, and people speeding once the traffic thins so they can make up for lost time.

This is not the safest time to drive because sitting in traffic can also make people drowsy.  A drowsy driver is a dangerous driver.  Also, people are constantly taking their eyes off of the road to examine the eclipse. There is also a concern of Eclipse partiers hitting the road while they are still under the influence.  Obviously, impaired drivers can cause serious crashes.   Visitors that are unfamiliar with the roads can often make erratic lane changes or other unsafe maneuvers.  Also, many visitors are driving rental cars they are unfamiliar with.  This can result in a crash. These incidents can cause unnecessary and preventable injuries or death. Please remember to take your time if you are on the roads today.   Be safe! Remember,  Oregonlive has constant updates.  For more information on the Eclipse Traffic visit:

Headed out to view the solar eclipse? Check the traffic before you go. Live traffic cameras courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation.

If you, or someone you know, find yourself in a crash on one of Oregon's rural roads or major urban freeways, please call Portland Personal Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.

Oregon Court Decision Helps Crime Victims Recover Losses

Many crime victims do not realize they have a right to recover restitution for their out of pocket losses.   Oregon Law allows crime victims to recover "economic damages" that were a result of the criminal's activity.  ORS 137.106(1).  This typically means that crime victims and survivors can recover out of pocket losses that were a result of the criminal's behavior.  Economic damages are typically hospital bills, surgery bills, mental health bills, property damage bills, and past lost wages.  Economic damages are not things like embarrassment,  pain, suffering, and humiliation.

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There are different avenues for victims and survivors to recover damages for pain, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, etc.  However these types of damages are not part of criminal restitution, and most victims and survivors will have to use the civil court to obtain full compensation for their harms and losses.  

However, the term "economic damages" is often disputed by defendants that do not want to pay victims for all of the harms and losses they cause.   Recently Oregon's Supreme Court clarified victim restitution issues with their ruling of State v. Ramos.  The Court noted that a defendant is responsible for all economic damages that are a result of the criminal activity.    The court addressed whether or not 1) that damages are limited to harms that result from reasonably foreseeable risks and 2) whether or not attorney fees and litigation costs are generally not recoverable as restitution unless authorized by statute or contract.  

The Ramos Court concluded,   "reasonable foreseeability is a limiting concept that applies to an award of economic damages under ORS 137.106."  What this means in layman's terms is that the economic damages must "result from" a defendant's criminal activity in the "but for" sense and must be a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant's criminal activities.  The court also determined that in some cases that a victim or survivor's attorney fees and litigation costs may be recovered as part of criminal restitution.   This case is a good tool for prosecutors to assist victims and survivors obtaining restitution. 

If you or someone you know have are a crime victim and have medical bills, mental health bills, property bills, or have suffered harms, losses, embarrassment, humiliation, pain, or suffering as a result of another's conduct, please call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  Please remember the law is constantly changing.  Call a lawyer or ROSS LAW instead of relying solely on this post or the law cited in this post.