insurance offer

5 Things To Know if You Were In a Crash with a DUII Driver

Ross Law PDX recently resolved a case where our client was hit by a DUII driver. The driver was out drinking and decided to drive home. While he was driving his blood alcohol concentration was well over the legal limit. The speeding drunk driver ran a stop sign and T-Boned my client’s car. The crash totaled my client’s vehicle. The DUII driver then attempted to flee, but pulled over minutes later. The DUII driver was then arrested and charged with DUII and Reckless Driving. While the DUII driver was spending the night in jail, our client was at Urgent Care getting treatment for his injuries. The crash caused ourclient to suffer soft tissue injuries (neck and back strain) which thankfully healed in a short amount of time. Our client brought Ross Law on board and we were able to obtain the DUII Driver’s $25,000.00 policy limits very shortly after letting them know of our representation. This is not an unusual scenario in DUII crash cases. However, these cases are unique and many victims of DUII drivers are often getting less than they are entitled to simply because of confusion about their rights and obligations. The following five things should assist DUII victims in ensuring they receive maximum compensation for their losses:

zhen-hu-340739-unsplash.jpg

1) You Have a Right to Receive A Police Report & Other Information: One of the first things that victims want to know is what happened to cause their injuries. Clients often say, “I don’t understand how he/she could have been so drunk and still driving.” Getting a police report helps victims learn what happened. It also helps them evaluate a civil case against the DUII Driver. The vast majority of the time the District Attorney will not release a police report while the case is pending under any circumstances. This is one exception to that rule. The law mandates that the District Attorney’’s Office must provide a report to victims or their lawyers if it is requested. See ORS 135.857.

2) The District Attorney Does Not “Represent” The Victim: The District Attorney’s job is to prosecute the DUII driver. This means that they will ensure that the DUII driver is either convicted of DUII or brought to trial for DUII. If the DUII driver is convicted of DUII, then the District Attorney may ask all victims involved if they are seeking restitution. This does not mean that the District Attorney is the victim’s lawyer. It simply means that the District Attorney (“DA”) is doing their job to ensure that the victims receive criminal restitution they are entitled to. This distinction is important to remember, because many people believe that the DA is also helping them with an “insurance claim” or getting compensation. Simply put, that is not he District Attorney’s job. That is what personal injury lawyers and crime victim lawyers such as Ross Law PDX do. This must be clear because the victims may limit their compensation if they do not exercise all of their rights. Click here to learn more about the difference between the district attorney and a civil attorney.

3) Criminal Restitution is Not the Same as Compensation in a Civil Case: Many times the District Attorney will send DUII victims a letter requesting if they are seeking “restitution.” Many people are confused about these letters and notices. Additionally, some DUII victims believe that seeking restitution is the same as pursuing a civil claim against the DUII driver. These are very different things. Criminal restitution is very limited. Criminal Restitution only covers “economic damages” caused by the defendant. Economic damages are defined as “objectively verifiable monetary losses.” These are often referred to as “out of pocket expenses.” Things like medical bills, burial expenses, lost income, costs to repair property, and insurance deductibles are routinely covered. See ORS 137.106(1) and ORS 31.710(2)(a). However, things like pain, suffering, frustration, anxiety, interference with activities of daily living are not recoverable as criminal restitution. These are non-economic damages. The DA has to make a claim for restitution within 90 days of sentencing, so it is important to communicate with the DA promptly if you are seeking restitution.

4) Insurance Companies Will Still Cover A DUII Crash: There are many instances when an insurance company refuses to provide coverage for an incident due to the insured’s conduct. However, the vast majority of the time an insurance company will still provide insurance coverage for a DUII crash. This is important because it allows the injured victims to receive compensation for pain and suffering in addition to their economic losses.

5) A DUII Crash Case is Worth More than a Regular Case: Insurance companies evaluate make their money by evaluating risk. They do their best to attempt to figure out what a Jury may award the victim of a DUII driver. This can be difficult because of the risk of punitive damages and the fact that the Jury may simply award the victim a substantial amount of money because the driver was impaired at the time of the crash. As a result, insurance companies will usually pay more to a victim of a DUII driver.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a crash with an Oregon DUII driver or impaired driver you should call Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury consultation. Oregon Personal Injury and Wrongful Death attorney Jeremiah Ross is happy to discuss your options. Please remember that case results vary and the law is constantly changing. Please contact a personal injury lawyer rather than relying on this post. Also this post could be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

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:

lucas-favre-489526-unsplash.jpg

     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. 

5 Myths About Concussions & Car Crashes

Last week I attended the Brain Injury Alliance of Oregon's annual Conference.  It was fascinating to hear about the current state of the medical science from medical experts.  Most of the speakers addressed some of the misconceptions about brain injuries.  Many of these misconceptions affect people injured in car crashes and other accidents.  Brain injuries can be called various names depending on who you talk to.  Concussions, Traumatic Brain Injuries, TBI, Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries, Mild TBI, MTbi, post-concussive syndrome are all various names for brain injuries.  These brain injuries are very common in car crashes.  Concussions and Mild TBI can occur in low speed rear-end collisions.

Myth 1:  You must Lose Consciousness to have a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI).  According to the CDC and the recent medical literature, this is flat out wrong.   A person need not lose consciousness, get "knocked out," or "black out" to have suffered a concussion.   The CDC notes, "[M]ost concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness. Not being able to remember events (amnesia) prior to, or following the injury, for a period of time is another sign of a concussion. Yet, some people simply feel dazed or confused."  

Myth 2:  X-Rays, MRIs, and CT Scans Always Show a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. According to medical literature, this is also FALSE.  That is why many medical providers at the emergency room will not order medical imaging for people who exhibit post-concussive syndrome or Mild TBI symptoms after a motor vehicle crash.   There are various medical tests that can be administered to diagnose a concussion and MTBI, but imaging is not reliable enough to diagnose many mild TBIs.   Click here for more information.

Symptoms of a Concussion after a Car Crash
1) Thinking/Remembering: Difficulty Thinking Clearly and remembering after the crash.
2)Physical Problems: a Headache, Nausea, Balance Problems, Blurry Vision, Feeling Tired, Sensitive to Noise and Light.
3) Emotional/Mood: Irritable, Sad, Nervousness
4) Sleep DIsturbance: Sleeping more or Less than usual.
— Center for Disease Control

Myth 3:  Mild TBI Symptoms or Concussion Symptoms Appear Right After the Car Crash:  According to the Mayo Clinic, concussion symptoms may be delayed for hours or days after the injury.  This means that you can be in a car crash on Monday and your concussion symptoms may not appear until Friday.  

Myth 4: You Must Hit Your Head to Have a Concussion or Mild TBI:  According to the CDC's definition of a concussion/mild traumatic brain injury this is also FALSE.  The CDC affirms, "A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head."  The "jolt to the head" portion of the definition affirms that a person does not need to strike their head, but only needs to have their head jolted.  This "jolt" is very common in car crashes.  Especially in rear-end collisions.

Anatomy of Brain Car Crash Image.jpg

Myth 5:  Insurance Companies Are Aware of the Above Myths and Will Compensate You for Your Crash Caused Concussion:  This is flat out false. I have witnessed Insurance companies use the concussion myths at trial and during settlement negotiations. Specifically, Insurance companies use outdated science and medicine to try and convince people that they could not have had a crash caused concussion or MTBI if they did not lose consciousness.  Insurance companies will also claim that a person could not have a concussion if they did not hit their head in the crash.   

Insurance Companies will assert that because there is no Medical Imaging showing a Concussion or Mild TBI then it did not occur.  Insurance companies often use hired guns that are neuropsychologist to claim the person has a psychological issue that is causing the symptoms, and the symptoms are not related to the crash.  In short, they will claim a car crash victim with a Mild TBI is either malingering or suffering from a psychiatric condition causing the symptoms.   This is why it is imperative for you to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you have a concussion or mild TBI and are involved in a motor vehicle crash. 

Please call Jeremiah Ross at Ross Law PDX at 503.224.1658 for your free case evaluation.  Jeremiah Ross has experience with Traumatic Brain Injury Cases and Mild TBI/Concussion cases and will do his best to fight to get you full compensation for your crash caused injuries. Please remember to CONSULT WITH A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL if you think you have a head injury or any other medical condition.  This post is for informational purposes only.  The definitions and medical science are constantly evolving so please keep that in mind.