Personal Injury

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.

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.   

5 Things To Know about Medical Debt and Bill Collectors

Many of my personal injury clients tell me they would have never sought the help of a lawyer if the at-fault person (bad driver, building owner, negligent business) would have simply paid their medical bills.  Medical bills can quickly spiral out of control and it seems that there is no way to ever pay them off.   Thankfully personal injury lawyers and consumer lawyers can often help people with getting their medical bills paid off.  Attorneys may be able to get insurance coverage for the bills, force the negligent party pay the medical bills, or work with the medical provider to accept a reduced amount.   However, sometimes that is not possible, and the debt must be paid.  In that case, there are things you should know.  The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) has published a great article that has valuable information for anyone that is dealing with medical debt. 

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Below a few highlights from the article:

  1. Pay Medical Debt Last: Don't ignore it, but you may want to pay off your other debt before medical debt.  This is due to the fact that it is on the lowest priority of debt.  Also, do not take out a loan or credit card to pay medical debt.   This is due to the fact medical debt often has little or no interest in it.  Credit cards and loans have interest, so you will pay more to pay off the original debt.
  2. Debt Collectors Powers Are Limited:  Many medical providers will assign your debt to a debt collector.  These are the people that call to annoy and harass you into paying off the debt.  However, there bark is often bigger than their bite.   Medical Debt is unique in that credit reporting agencies will not include it in a credit report until it is over six months old. This is important because debt collectors will often tell people their credit will be trashed if they don't pay up immediately.   If debt collectors continue to call you or attempt to contact you, you also can send them a letter telling them to stop. Federal law prevents them from continuing to contact you after receiving that letter. 
  3. Medical Debt is Often Not Reported to Credit Agencies:  Often, many medical providers do not report medical debt to the three major credit reporting agencies. However, debt collectors may.
  4. You Can Still Go to the Emergency Room If You Owe the Hospital Money: Federal law (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)) prohibits hospitals from turning people away from the ER due to their inability to pay. 
  5. You Might Be Able to Correct the Bills:  Medical bills can contain errors.  You can work with the medical provider to correct the mistake or get the bills covered by insurance.   

The article contains a lot of helpful additional information that you should read to help you understand your rights and obligations with medical debt.  If you have incurred medical debt as a result of another person injuring you call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.  Jeremiah Ross represents people that have been injured by the negligence of another and consumers.  Please note the information in this article is for informational purposes only and the law is constantly changing.  DO NOT SOLELY RELY ON THIS POST.  SPEAK WITH A LAWYER to fully understand your rights and obligations on medical debt. This post could be considered attorney advertising. 

Please Drive Safe! 17 People Have Died in Portland Traffic Crashes So Far

This year has been a deadly year on Portland's roads.   According to Oregonlive, as of May, 17 2018 people have died in traffic-related crashes in Portland alone.   Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, so far 9 pedestrians have been killed in traffic-related incidents so far.   Motorcyclists are also susceptible to injury or death due to the fact they have minimal protection in a crash.  4 Motorcyclists have been killed in traffic crashes so far.   Three people that were in motorized vehicles have also died in traffic crashes so far.  One cyclist has been killed by a vehicle this year.

These tragic deaths highlight the need for Portland's drivers to remain attentive.  Drivers need to get off of the phone, stay alert, look for pedestrians and cyclists, and slow down.  We all know we need to do this, but the consequences of a driver's "mistake" are tragic. 

If you or someone you know was injured by another driver's negligence call Ross Law LLC.  Portland Personal Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross represents cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and drivers who have been injured in Oregon traffic crashes.  Call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for your free case evaluation.   

The "Wave Through" That Causes a Crash

When I drive to work I often find myself making a left across Eastbound Powell near the Ross Island Bridge.  Eastbound traffic is pretty heavy and is usually stopped or crawling.  However, traffic is clear in the far right lane.  Cars regularly speed through in the far right lane as the two other lanes are stopped.  In classic PNW style, the good citizens of Portland will stop on Powell with enough room to allow me to make a left turn across Powell.   

The stopped drivers will often use their hands to wave me across in front of them.  This welcome signal is greatly appreciated.  However, it can also be disastrous if the Eastbound driver waves a person through and a car traveling Eastbound in another lane fails to stop.  A serious collision will result if that is the case.    

I have represented people in "wave through' crashes that have sustained serious injuries.   These crashes are heartbreaking because the person waving the vehicle across was simply trying to help. However, their actions caused someone to be injured.   As a result, they may be responsible for causing the crash.  

The bottom line is, do not wave a vehicle across in front of you until you confirm that it is safe for the crossing vehicle to actually cross.  If you do direct a vehicle to come across and a crash is caused as a result, you may end up being responsible for the crash.   

If you or someone you know has been involved in a crash where a driver or pedestrian waved you across the street then call Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer Jeremiah Ross. Ross Law will give you a free case evaluation if you call 503.224.1658.   Please remember everyone's situation is unique and that results may vary.  Please do not solely rely on this post for information and contact an Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer if you have questions.     

Jeremiah Ross Named Member of Oregon's Autonomous Vehicle Task Force

Jeremiah Ross was named by the Director of the Oregon Department of Transportation to serve on Oregon's Task Force of Autonomous Vehicles.  The Task Force is comprised of 31 members with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and interest.   Jeremiah and other task force members will work toward the goal of drafting legislative recommendations that address Autonomous Vehicles and issues of licensing and registration, insurance and liability, law enforcement and accident reporting, and cyber-security.     Click here for more information on Oregon's Autonomous Vehicle Taskforce.   

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If you or someone you know have been injured in an Oregon Car Crash please call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury case evaluation.