Auto Accident

Jeremiah Ross Votes to Approve The 2018 Final Report on the Task Force on Autonomous Vehicle

After numerous meetings, hours of reviewing documents, and collaborating and discussing issues with others, Oregon’s Task for On Autonomous Vehicles unanimously voted to approve a 2018 Final Report to the Oregon State Legislature. I was honored to represent consumers on this committee and protect their interests on the Liability and Insurance Sub-Committee. In addition to myself there was only one other personal injury lawyer on the committee and I was proud to be the only Consumer lawyer on the committee. The Report will now be forwarded to the Legislature to assist them in formulating laws and policies regarding Oregon’s Autonomous Vehicles. Click here to review the full task force on Autonomous Vehicles 2018 Final Report.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a crash with an Autonomous Vehicle Call Oregon Personal Injury and Consumer& Auto Fraud Attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 or Ross Law LLC. Please remember this post is for informational purposes only and that it can be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

Three Things You Must Know About Oregon Auto Insurance:

Full Coverage Does Not Mean What You Think it Does:  All too often I meet with clients who tell me, "Don't worry, I have full coverage."  Some of these clients have been heartbroken when they learn that their "full coverage" only included the state-mandated minimum bodily injury limits of $25,000.00. There is not an insurance policy that is sold that states it is "Full Coverage."  This term usually means that the policy meets the state mandatory minimum requirements.  These requirements merely are that the policy has a minimum bodily injury coverage of $25,000.00 per person or $50,000.00 per crash; personal injury protection benefits that include $15,000.00 to pay reasonable and necessary medical bills for up to two years after the crash; and $20,000.00 property damage coverage (to pay for damaging another's property). All policies must also have an uninsured motorist provision and an underinsured motorist provision (used when the bad driver doesn't have enough insurance.)

Your Insurance Company May Refuse to Pay Crash Related Medical Bills:  Oregon law requires that the insurance company pays your crash related bills for two years.  However, this amount the insurer will pay in total varies depending on the personal injury protection coverage you have purchased.  If you have the minimum personal injury protection benefits then your insurer will stop paying crash related bills once they have paid $15,000.00.  That amount can go quickly especially if there is surgery.  The other game insurers play is they will claim your injuries are not crash related, so they refuse to continue to pay your personal injury protection benefits.  They may even send you to a medical provider that works exclusively for insurance companies to give an "opinion" that your injuries are not crash related.   If that occurs call Ross Law at 503.224.1658.

The Minimum Bodily Injury requirements are a Mere $25,000 per Person:  This is usually shocking to most people.  This means that if you are injured in a car crash and you have the minimum limits that you will likely only have $15,000.00 from your insurance policy's  personal injury protection benefits to pay for medical bills, and then an additional $25,000.00 from the bad driver's insurance policy to pay for medical expenses and pain, suffering, and all other harms and losses.   When a person is dealing with a severe injury, these amounts are very low considering the cost of medical care these days. There may be other ways to obtain additional coverage, including "Stacking" your underinsured motorist coverage, or umbrella coverage, but usually, an attorney will be required to navigate these issues.

morgan-sessions-17278.jpg

 Insurance is a complicated issue, but the bottom line is you can never have enough insurance.  If you are injured in a crash and you need assistance in dealing with insurance companies call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658Jeremiah Ross is a Portland Personal Injury Attorney who will do his best to fight to obtain full compensation for your injuries. 

LEGAL STUFF:  Please remember the law is constantly changing.  This post only applies to insurance policies written in Oregon.  It is important to remember that insurance policies and Oregon law control the types of benefits you may receive and what insurers are permitted to do.  Please rely on the policy language and the law and not solely on this educational post.

 

 

Ten Things You Should Know About Attorney Fees In Oregon:

As a Portland Oregon attorney, people often call me to ask how much it will cost for my firm to represent them.  This is a pretty good question and I am surprised that everyone doesn't ask it right away.  This is because attorney fees and costs in Oregon can vary dramatically from lawyer to lawyer.  Some large firms charge substantial hourly rates, while other firms can charge half that to perform the same task.  Legal Consumers should educate themselves before meeting with an attorney.   The list below should provide you with helpful information to educate yourself before hiring an attorney:

1:What Is The Difference Between a "Fixed Fee," "Hourly Fees", and a "Contingency Fee?"  

Fixed fees are fees that are paid to the lawyer to perform a specific task to represent you for a certain amount of time.  Many criminal lawyers charge a fixed fee.   For example, a lawyer that charges $1,500.00 to take DUII case up to trial would be charging a Fixed Fee.  The lawyer then may charge an additional fixed trial fee to represent the DUII client in the trial.  These fees are "earned upon receipt" and you would pay $1,500.00 for the lawyer to represent you and nothing more.   

An Hourly Rate is very common.  Many lawyers that represent business clients or persons with family law matters will often charge an hourly fee.  For example, the lawyer may spend three hours drafting a letter for you and charges $200.00 an hour.  You would pay the lawyer $600.00 for the service.  Most hourly rate attorneys will require a retainer.

A Contingency Fee is very common in Personal Injury cases.  With a contingency fee, the lawyer will not receive a payment unless the client collects money from the other side.    I represent people on a contingency fee in Personal  Injury cases and Crime Victim cases.   I also typically represent people who get ripped off by car dealers on a contingency basis.   Usually the attorney will get a percentage of the amount received by the other side. For example, if you received $100,000.00 from the other side before we filed a lawsuit I might receive a fee of 33% ($33,000.00) out of that $100,000.  I have a different model with the auto fraud cases.  

2:  Why is The Contingency Fee In Oregon Usually 33%?  There is not a specific reason for this.  However, the attorney is engaging in a risky en-devour.  The attorney in a contingency case is fronting their time and usually their money with the hopes they win and collect from the other side.  If the attorney loses your case the attorney will lose all the time and effort they put into the case.  The attorney or their law firm may also lose the thousands of dollars in costs that were paid on your behalf.  Also, the fee percentage may increase, because the risk of losing the case may increase.  

3:  What are "Costs" and Who Pays Them?  Costs are in addition to the attorney fee.   Costs are amounts that are paid to others to prosecute your case.  For example, if the attorney has to take depositions and have the depositions transcribed someone must pay the court reporter to do this.   Many attorneys have their clients pay costs, and demand a "retainer" (see below) to draw from.  In Personal Injury cases and Crime Victim cases my firm usually will front costs.  What this means is that I hope we win and then my firm will be reimbursed the costs out of any settlement or award.   In other words, the client does not have to pay anything for representation until after the trial in a personal injury or crime victim case unless we win.

4:  What is a Retainer?  A retainer is a lump sum the lawyer requires to draw funds out of.  Think of it as setting up a bank account with the lawyer.  Most hourly lawyers want a retainer, and some contingent fee attorneys want a retainer to pay costs.   They will bill a certain amount of hours and then send you an accounting at the end of the month.   For example, an attorney is representing you in a business dispute.  The attorney requests a $3,500.00 retainer.  The attorney charges $300.00 an hour and spent 10 hours on the case.  The attorney will be paid $3,000.00 out of the retainer.   The attorney also paid the court $500.00 to file the lawsuit.  As a result, the $3,500.00 retainer is gone.  Most likely the attorney will ask you to replenish the retainer and deposit another $3,500.00.  

5:  What Percentage Do Oregon Attorneys Typically Charge for a Contingency Fee?   Typically in personal injury cases and crime victim cases attorneys will charge 33% of the amount recovered.  However, most attorneys will increase the percentage charged as the case progresses.  For example, the attorney may charge 33% of any amount recovered before a lawsuit is filed.  The fee might jump up to 40% after a lawsuit is filed.  This is due to the fact a lot more work needs to be done after a lawsuit is filed.   

6:  I Don't Have Money To Pay An Attorney, Can I Still Get an Oregon Attorney?  That is a difficult question to answer, because it depends on the type of case you have.   If you have a personal injury case or a crime victim, then you probably can get an attorney even if you can't afford it.  This is because those cases are taken on a contingency.  Also, in Oregon a criminal defendant that does not have money for a lawyer may have the Judge appoint a lawyer for them.  However, if you have a family law case then you may not be able to obtain free representation.   Some organizations provide representation to people that cannot afford a lawyer.  Call me  at 503.224.1658 if you have an Oregon personal injury case, or you are a crime victim, or have an auto dealership fraud case. If you have another type of case you may want to call the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 800-452-7636. 

7: Do Attorneys Negotiate Attorney Fees? Some people try and negotiate the attorney fee with the attorney.  For example, they may want an attorney to represent them in a personal injury case, but will not agree to pay a contingency of more than 25% of the amount recovered.  Most attorneys do not typically negotiate their attorney fee, but there are always exceptions.  

8:  How Will I Know if the Attorney is Charging a Contingency Fee?  The attorney must disclose what type of fee they are charging in a written fee agreement in Oregon.  In fact there is a law regarding what an attorney must do when entering in a contingency fee agreement.  (See ORS 20.340)  You should read the agreement carefully, it should be easy to read, the attorney should also explain it,  and you should ask questions.  

9:  Can I Back Out of An Attorney Fee Agreement After I Signed It?  Typically yes.  In fact, if you signed a personal injury contingency fee agreement you have the legal right to rescind the agreement within 24 hours after signing it. (see ORS 20.340) If you back out of a personal injury contingency fee it is important to remember to notify the lawyer in writing.  However, in other cases the attorney may still charge you for any work performed even if you back out.

10:  Will I Recover My Attorney Fees If I Win?  It depends.  Typically in Oregon the loser will have to reimburse you for your allowable costs.  However, unless their is a right to collect attorney fees under a law, a contract, or some other agreement you  will  usually not be able to recover your attorney fees from the other side.  Call me at 503.224.1658 to discuss what types of cases typically allow for recovery of attorney fees.   

 If you or someone you know has needs an Oregon Lawyer please contact attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  If Ross Law cannot assist you they will do their best to finds someone that can assist you or try and point you in the right direction.  

Please Read This Disclaimer!  Please remember that this information is not to be considered "legal advice" and you should always check with an attorney or the Oregon State Bar regarding the issues brought up in this post.  The law is always changing, so some things in this post may be out-dated.  Also, this post is intended for people who are seeking Oregon Attorneys.  Lastly this post, rosslawpdx.com, and this blog may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.  

Self Driving Cars-Who is Responsible when there is a Crash?

The recent tragic death of a driver of a self driving Tesla has created another area of uncertainty in the litigation realm.  These cases appear unique and there are a handful that are being litigated around the United States.  I am not aware of any Oregon Cases where a vehicle on "auto pilot" caused a serious injury or death.  

RAW video and interviews from media event: Chairman on 30 Mile Highway Trip in Driverless Car Chairman Bill Shuster Will Join PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch in Self-Driving Car from Cranberry to Pittsburgh International Airport Washington, DC - Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) will join Barry Schoch, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, as Carnegie Mellon University¹s driverless 2011 Cadillac SRX transports them from surburban Cranberry to Pittsburgh International Airport.

These cases are unique products liability cases, because the cause of car crashes have historically been a driver's negligence.   Some vehicles have significant mechanical or electrical failures that have caused crashes, but the overwhelming majority of car crashes are caused by negligent humans behind the wheel.  Now this has all changed with the advent of the driver-less car.

Car companies are aware of this and the company Tesla is failing to concede its auto-pilot was the cause of a crash in Pennsylvania.  Instead, they have the typical response of "deny and deflect."  Tesla of course is denying it was the Tesla that caused the crash and Tesla is attempting to deflect the blame on the driver.   Tesla noted that "drivers are instructed to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain responsibility of the vehicle."

Tesla's instruction is what makes these cases interesting to legal geeks like myself.  This is a unique product that is marketed as "autopilot."  In reality, these vehicles are only partially self driving. The marketing coupled with the driver's expectations can create a sense of complacency for drivers.   Tesla must be aware of the driver's complacency.  However, what purpose does auto pilot serve if a driver still has to pay attention and keep their hands on the wheel?

Eventually an Oregon court will have to determine what legal theories are viable against certain defendants in failed autopilot car crashes.  Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers, and the various companies that designed and programmed the software might all be viable defendants.   Products Liability claims, Negligence claims, Contractual causes of action, and maybe even Fraud may be proper Claims for relief depending on the facts of a specific case.   These cases may also be suitable for a Class Actions where numerous consumers have a common issue.

In the mean time, consumers can only hope manufacturers and software engineers are able to fix the bugs and glitches.  These bugs and glitches can result serious injuries and death, so their is no excuse for them to take every effort to protect their consumers and other people driving on Oregon's roads and highways. 

If you or someone you know have been injured in a crash where a car with auto-pilot was involved, please call Portland, Oregon attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law LLC is always happy to provide free personal injury consultations.  Please remember that the law is constantly changing.  This blog article is intended to create awareness of the safety issues wit driver-less cars and is not intended to be legal advice.   

 

 

HOW AUTO INSURANCE COMPANIES DETERMINE WHAT YOU PAY

A recent Consumer Reports article highlights the need for Insurers to become more transparent as to how they arrive at insurance quotes. 

According to the article, insurance companies judge you based on your socio-economic factors more than your driving  habits.    Insurance companies are very secretive on how they arrive at insurance quotes.  Their quotes come from very complex formulas.  This results in a large price disparity between companies for the same coverage.

The article then rates how the big five insurance companies stack up for male and female drivers.

The results are as follows:

Allstate charges an average of $1570.00 for coverage.

Progressive charges an average of $1,414.00 for the same coverage.

GEICO charges an average of $1,177.00 for the same coverage.

State Farm charges an average of $1,147 for the same insurance coverage.

USAA charges the least amount, $817, for the same  insurance coverage.

There is no logic or rational for the large disparity in quotes for the same coverage.   Consumers should demand transparency in Insurance pricing formulas, so they can make educated decisions when choosing an Auto Insurer.

If you have questions about insurance coverage issues or you were injured and have a dispute with an insurance company, call Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658.  As a Portland Oregon Personal Injury Attorney and Consumer Attorney, he can assist you in your battle against the Insurance Companies.

Please remember this post is for informational purposes only .  It does  not constitute legal advice or create an Attorney Client relationship.

WHAT TO DO WHEN A DRUNK DRIVER HITS YOU

Everyone knows Drinking and Driving (DUI) is illegal in Oregon. However, people need to understand that the fear of getting arrested should not be the only concern when a DUII driver gets behind the wheel.  Statistics for the State of Oregon note hundreds of injuries and fatalities that result from DUI crashes each year.  Alcohol, controlled substances, marijuana, and prescription drugs are all contributing factors to these crashes.   Below is a terrifying video of a DUII driver that is lucky to be alive.

As a result, the law allows injured people in certain circumstances to collect additional compensation from the DUI driver that injured them.  An injured party can obtain punitive damages from a DUII driver.  An injured party may also be able to collect money from a bar that over-served the DUII driver.

The question then becomes what should you do if you are hit by a DUII driver.  The following list should assist you in obtaining compensation when you are involved in a crash with a suspected DUII Driver:

  1. Report the Crash to the Police Immediately if you suspect you were injured by a DUII driver.  Many police departments do not respond to minor crashes, but will respond to a crash involving a DUII driver.  It is imperative to call 911 if you suspect you were in a crash with a DUII driver.
  2. Gather information from the DUII driver regarding where the DUII driver was consuming alcohol or the controlled substances.  This may give rise to an additional dram shop claim.
  3. Gather Witness information and contact information.   If someone saw any part of the crash or spoke with the DUI driver  get the witnesses address, phone number, or email.  Also it may help to take a photo of a witness’s license plate so you can look them up in the future if necessary.
  4. Take Photos.  Pictures are worth a thousand words.  Cell phone photos of the crash scene, and maybe an empty beer bottle is powerful evidence to assist in the prosecution of the DUI driver and to assist you in your personal injury case.
  5. Contact your Auto Insurance company immediately and inform them you think you were hit by a DUII driver.  Provide them the police officer’s name and report information.
  6.  If you, or a loved one, are seriously injured, call a personal injury attorney immediately and cooperate with law enforcement.  Many times the DUI Driver’s minimal insurance policy of $25,000.00 will be expended by a two day hospital stay.   This leaves the injured party with nothing, and only reduces the medical bills they will be forced to pay if they don’t have other insurance sources.   It is important to contact a personal injury attorney so the attorney can investigate all potentially liable parties.  An investigation may reveal additional sources of insurance that will provide the injured person compensation in the future.
  7. Cooperate with the District Attorney if you are asked to come to court or send documents to the District Attorney.

The above list is not exhaustive, and your situation will likely vary.  However, these are things to keep in mind if you are hit by a DUII driver in Oregon.  If you are injured by a DUII driver in Oregon call Portland Oregon Personal Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross for yourfree  personal injury consultation.  Cal 503.224.1658.  This post is not to be considered legal advice, so please call a lawyer.

INJURED BY A DRUNK PERSON COMING FROM A SUPERBOWL PARTY? THE LAW CAN HELP….

The Superbowl is here again.  People are stocking up on junk food, beer, and liquor.  This festive time of year can become disastrous if a person gets struck by a DUII driver.   This is why people hosting Superbowl Parties must be careful to not over-serve a person alcohol and allow them to drive home.  In Oregon, homeowner’s can be held responsible for injuries suffered by a person that were caused by a visitor to the homeowner’s party.  This is important in serious injury cases when the bad driver’s insurance policy may only be $25,000.00.  The $25,000.00 can be evaporated by an ER visit, surgery, and a short hospital stay.  The injured person may be stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid medical expenses that can drive them into bankruptcy.

Oregon has a way to obtain compensation from additional insurance policies. Homeowner’s can be held responsible for serving alcohol to a person that is visibly intoxicated and later injures another in a DUII crash. (ORS 471.565). Oregon courts have determined a person who receives guests in a social l setting, in which the host serves or directs the serving of booze or beer to guests can be held accountable if the overly intoxicated person later injures another in a DUII crash. See Solberg v. Johnson, 306 Or 484, 490 (1988). This type of liability is referred to as “Dram Shop” liability. Dram Shop liability is important because home owner’s and renter’s insurance policies may cover DUII crash injuries and provide tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars, in additional insurance coverage. This money can be used to pay medical bills, physical therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and to compensate the injured person or their family for their harms and losses.

It is important to keep in mind if you intend on making a dram shop claim there are time limitations that notice must be given in. Specifically, if it is a wrongful death claim then notice must be given within one year of the date of death, or within a year after the date plaintiff discovered, or should have discovered, the claim, whichever is later. (ORS 471.565) In a personal injury matter, notice must be given within 180 days of the injury, or 180 days after the injured person discovered or reasonably should have discovered, the existence of a dram shop claim which ever is later. (ORS 471.565) However, these notice requirements may not always apply and there are exceptions. Please refer to a current version of ORS 471.565 for notice requirements and time limitations.

Dram shop cases can be complicated and there are other theories an attorney can use to attempt to obtain maximum recovery for a person’s injury or loss. Please contact Portland Personal Injury Attorney, Jeremiah Ross, at 503.224.1658. for a free personal injury consultation. Please remember this post is for informational purposes only and you should rely on the current statute and case law when considering a dram shop claim. Please consult with an attorney if you believe you have a dram shop claim or have been injured by a DUII Driver.

CYCLIST BEWARE OF THE RIGHT HOOK..(CARS TURNING IN FRONT OF YOU)

As an avid bike commuter and cyclist, I encounter or often see dangerous situations involving vehicles and cyclists.  A particular intersection at 2nd Ave and Main St. in Portland, Oregon is a magnet for dangerous incidents. At that intersection, I routinely see cars make a right turn immediately in front of a cyclist who is riding straight in the bike lane. Vehicles often don’t account for cyclist in the bike lane when they are turning right. In downtown Portland, the problem is compounded by the various other distractions and dangers the driver is facing.  Pedestrians crossing the street, cars pulling out of parking spots and garages, buses, Max, and Street Cars all pose an added distraction for a driver.  The cyclist who is lawfully riding in the bike lane is often overlooked when the driver makes the right turn.  See The YOUTUBE video below for an example of the right hook. 

This causes the front of the cyclist bike to usually impact the side of the car.  These crashes are serious and often result in significant injuries to the cyclist and minimal damage to the vehicle.  The cyclist will likely suffer broken bones,  a head injury, soft tissue injuries (strains, sprains, etc.), bruises and swelling (edema), significant road rash.  Shoulder injuries and upper extremity injuries are common as many time the shoulder is the first thing to hit the car or pavement.  Some injuries are fatal because the driver ends up running over the cyclist wit the driver’s rear tire.  These unthinkable tragedies can be avoided if driver’s obey Oregon’s Laws. ORS 811.050  states: A person commits the offense of failure of a motor vehicle operator to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane if the person is operating a motor vehicle and the person does not yield the right of way to a person operating a bicycle, electric assisted bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, moped, motor assisted scooter or motorized wheelchair upon a bicycle lane.  This requires the vehicle to yield to the cyclist before initiating the right turn across the bike lane. Many drivers insurance companies will deny fault and claim the cyclist was traveling too fast, or not paying attention, or that the law requires the car to make the right turn as close as practicable to the curb. Some insurance companies will seek payment  from the cyclist for the damage to the vehicle. If you were injured or know someone that was hurt in a right hook crash, call Portland Personal Injury Attorney Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for a free personal injury consultation.  Please note this post is for informational purposes only and you should contact an attorney about your case immediately.