small cases

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.   

In a Car Crash During the Recent Snow Storm? Here is What You Need to Do...

Snowpocalypse has arrived in Oregon.  The Willamette Valley , Coast, and Central Oregon have all been buried in Snow.  Last night when snow began to fall, Oregon's roads predictably became snarled with drivers trying to get home.  Many driver's were unprepared t and either crashed into another car, ran off the road, or simply abandon there vehicles in the road.   The Oregonian reported 101 car crashes in Portland alone.  Area hospitals also reported an increase of persons being admitted for car crash injuries. These visits can become costly if injured people do not take steps to protect themselves.     If you were one of those people that were involved in a crash here are things you should do:

A video taken by SW Portland resident Kathryn King shows a school bus crashing into several other vehicles in her neighborhood during a snow storm on Dec. 14, 2016. (Warning video contains explicit language)
  1. At the Scene:   Once the area is safe, USE YOUR CELL PHONE to gather evidence: Take pictures of the car damage, the scene, the bad driver, witnesses, and the bad driver' driver's license, the bad driver's license plate, and the bad driver's insurance card.  Call 911 if there is an injury and relay what the injuries are. Have witnesses text or email you their contact information from their phones. This way you can locate them later if needed.   
  2. Seek Medical Care:  Immediately seek treatment if you are injured. Your Oregon issued auto insurance should pay $15,000.00 for up to two years of crash related medical treatment. This does not mean you need to go to the Emergency Room, but you should schedule an appointment with a Doctor or Chiropractor to ensure you have not suffered serious injuries.
  3. Contact Insurance and the DMV: Call your insurance company to set up a claim. Cooperate with them, but be cautious of their motives. If there was an injury or more than $1500.00 in property damage submit the proper Accident Report to the DMV ASAP.  Here is a link to the form:  DMV Accident Form.
  4. If you were in a hit and run you must make a police report or notify the DMV within 24 hours and notify your insurer within 30 days.  I advise reporting the matter to law enforcement as soon as possible.  This is important as you may not be able to make a claim in the future if you were a victim of a hit and run.
  5. Call A Lawyer at 503.224.1658:   It won't cost you anything to chat, and you can learn about what you need to do next. 

Please be safe out there.  The roads are still treacherous and there is more snow and ice on the way.   Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions.  Please remember this blog and web-site may be considered attorney advertisement.

Confronting Myths About Car Crashes, Insurance Companies, and Lawyers

Last night I was sitting at a bar waiting to meet a friend when I overheard a conversation.  The two guys next to me were discussing a car crash their friend had recently been involved in.  The guys discussed how the crash occurred and the subsequent events. 

The tall guy was animated in speaking about the crash.  He described Airbags deploying and it sounded as if their friend had been broadsided by another vehicle at an intersection.  The tall guy noted that his friend did not feel immediate pain, but that was normal because he was "all amped from the crash."  The friend went to the hospital the next day just to get checked out.  The tall guy said his friend was diagnosed with "whiplash" and may have to go through some "physical therapy or something."  The tall guy also went on to say the friend was worried about payment of medical bills.  The two guys continued to talk about expensive healthcare and then the subject switched to insurance.  

The tall guy also said the insurance lawyer called his friend and said they would offer $1,000.00 right away and that is all his friend would get.  The insurance "lawyer" said his friend couldn't have been hurt if he didn't go to the doctor right away,   Then the conversation  switched to greedy lawyers and that no lawyer is going to take his friends case because his friend doesn't want tens of thousands of dollars.  His friend basically just wants some money for medical bills and a little extra.  His friend can't pay a lawyer, so he is going to just deal with the insurance company "lawyer."  

The entire time I was biting my tongue because of all the misconceptions and wrong assumptions about his friend's case.   I wanted to interject, but I didn't because it was clear these guys were not fans of lawyers and probably would be a little annoyed with some pencil pusher interrupting their conversation.   After listening to these two young gentlemen it became apparent the insurance companies' propaganda machine has been doing a great job on conditioning these guys.    Insurance companies have confused people about their rights and obligations after a crash.  This blog article will address some of the confusion created by insurance companies:

1) The Friend Didn't Feel Immediate Pain After Crash:   The guy was right when he said his friend was "amped" so he didn't feel any pain.  I am not a medical professional, but my understanding is many soft tissue injuries  do not result in immediate pain.  Many times the injury will manifest a day or two later.  

2) The Friend Is Worried About Crash related Medical Bills:  Personal Injury Protection benefits are available to pay the friend's medical bills.  This means the friend has $15,000.00 of no fault insurance to pay all crash related medical bills incurred up to a year after the crash.   For more information read my blog post addressing PIP issues. 

3)  The Insurance Company's Lawyer Called His Friend:  It is rare in a case where a person has soft tissue injuries to have a lawyer contact the injured person.  Most likely the insurance company person was an insurance adjuster.  These adjusters sometimes like to think they are lawyers, but in reality they have little, if any, formal legal education.  Many adjusters have little formal education.  It is important to remember the insurance adjuster's sole mission is to ensure the insurance company pays out the minimal amount to any injured person that is making a claim.  Some are honorable and may make a fair offer, but many do not.  It is also important to remember there is no requirement that an injured person speaks to an insurance company adjuster or lawyer. For more information on insurance company phone calls read my blog article.  

4)  A thousand Dollars is The Most You Can Get for Soft Tissue Injuries:  Again, that is not true.  The insurance adjuster is trying to convince the friend that his case does not have any value in an attempt to hoodwink the friend into settling for pennies on the dollar.   The case may have substantial value if there are permanent soft tissue injuries or there are other injuries that have yet to be diagnosed.  Insurance Companies try to settle cases quickly in an attempt to prevent people from making large damage claims or speaking with a lawyer. If you have settled the case and realize you were hoodwinked you should call me at 503.224.1658.  There may be a way to set aside the settlement and pursue your claim for money damages.

5)  The Friend Couldn't Have Been Hurt Because He Didn't Go To The Doctor Right Away: Insurance companies often use this line, but I don't think people actually believe that.   They call this a "gap in treatment" or "delayed treatment." Most Oregonians are tough hard working folks that would rather be working or trying to get better on their own rather than going to the doctor over some pain in their neck.  However, once they realize the pain is worse than anticipated or is not going away, then they seek medical attention.  This is perfectly reasonable even if it is a few days or weeks after the crash.

6)  No Lawyer Is Going to Take the Case because It is Not Worth Tens of Thousands of Dollars:  There are numerous Oregon Personal Injury lawyers that are eager to take small cases valued at $10,000.00 or less.  I represent many people on these smaller soft tissue cases.  These cases are common and there is a way for the lawyer to make money on the case and the injured person to receive full compensation for their injury without the lawyer taking a cut of the settlement or award. If you have more questions about small cases then you should read my blog article on the issue.  If you think you have a case but are concerned it is too small call me at 503.224.1658.  It will not cost you anything as I provide free personal injury consultations.

7) His friend Can't Afford A Lawyer:  I take almost all personal injury cases on a contingent fee. What this means is I don't get paid an attorney fee unless we prevail.  My personal injury clients do not pay my hourly rate.   For more information on how attorneys get paid see my blog post on the issue.   

Hopefully this post will address many of the misconceptions that people have about personal injury cases.   People shoudl be informed when they are injured in a car crash.  They do not need to rely on the insurance companies to take care of the crash and make a "fair" offer.  Injured people should seek an attorney to assist them with their claim.  

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash please call me at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law is happy to provide free personal injury consultations.  I also work on a contingency fee in personal injury matters.   Legal Stuff:  This post is not to be considered legal advice and does not create an attorney client privilege.   This post, website, and blog may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

Wrecked and Repaired Car Is Now Worth Less-10 Things to Know About Diminished Value in Oregon

As an Oregon Personal Injury Attorney I am often confronted with various issues that are caused by a car crash.   Dealing with insurance companies, trying to get medical bills paid, and trying to get lost wages paid are all pretty common.  However, there is also another claim that pops-up every so often.  This is the "diminished value claim."  

These claims are more and more common these days and should be pursued if the economics make sense.  There are numerous little nuances that should guide a person in considering filing a diminished value claim, but below are just a few things that should assist you:

What is a Diminished Value Claim?  Diminished Value claims arise after a vehicle has been damaged by the negligence of another (usually a bad driver.)  The claim arises from the fact that a vehicle that has been in a crash is now worth less than a vehicle that has not been in a crash.   The diminished value is the difference between what the vehicle was worth before the crash and what the vehicle is worth now.

How Much Can I Get On A Diminished Value Claim?  The amount varies.   To determine the amount of the claim an expert will look at how much the car is worth immediately after the crash compared to how much it was worth immediately before the crash.   For example, a 2 day Bentley that was in a crash may be worth $120,000.00 before the crash and now it is only worth $80,000.00 after it has been repaired.  The diminished value claim would be $40,000.00.  However, things change if you change the type and the age of the vehicle.  Now picture a 1999 Ford F-150 that is barely running before the crash.   The truck maybe worth $1500.00 on a good day.  The truck is in a crash and professionally repaired, now it probably is worth roughly the same because it did not have much value to diminish in the first place.  

What Variables Affect The Amount I can Get From A Diminished Value Claim?  Each claim is unique, but usually vehicle make, model, year are important.  Also, the damage to the vehicle is important.  Whether or not OEM (Factory) parts were used is a variable that can be taken into account.  

How Is The Diminished Value Determined?  Experts that are usually people that have worked in the automotive repair industry for years render an opinion regarding the diminished value.   They are usually paid a fee for their work and can provide you a report regarding their findings and the amount of the diminished value. Some Portland Oregon Body shops will offer to render a Diminished Value Opinion for a fee.

Who Do I Make A Diminished Value Claim To?    If you handle the claim yourself you should make the claim to the Insurer of bad driver that damaged your car.  

The Insurance Company Says They Don't Recognize Diminished Value Claims?  I have heard from clients that attempted to make a diminished value claim that the bad driver's insurance company claims they don't recognize Diminished Value Claims.  That may be the case, but Oregon Law recognizes these as valid legal claims.  What this means is if the insurance company claims they are not going to pay out because they have a policy of not honoring diminished value claims you can file a lawsuit seeking damages for the diminished value and may have a claim against the insurer that the Insurance Commissioner would be interested in investigating.

My Diminished Value Claim Is Not Worth Much, Should I Pursue It?  It depends.  Some claims for diminished value may only be a couple of thousand dollars.  Usually these small claims are not filed because people believe the case is too small for an attorney to take.  However, Oregon has laws that enable attorney's to get paid on small cases under $10,000.00.   I have written a blog article on ORS 20.080 and if you have a small Diminished Value Case you should read the article and call me at 503.224.1658 if needed.


Do Attorneys Represent People in Diminished Value Cases?  Yes, but it is not  always necessary.  Some claims may be viable small claims court actions.  However, the insurance company will likely attempt to remove the case from small claims.  I represent people with smaller diminished value claims.  See my  blog article  on small cases in Oregon for more information. 

How Do Attorneys Get Paid In Diminished Value Cases?    Most attorneys get paid on a contingency fee.  However it depends on the amount of the claim.   If there is a large amount of diminished value then it may make sense to pay an attorney hourly.  If their is a small diminished value claim that is risky the lawyer may want you to pay an hourly fee.   I take almost all diminished value cases on a contingency fee.  What that means is I do not get my attorney fees paid unless we win the case. 

Do Diminished Value Cases Apply To Bicycles? It may, but it depends.  A newer unique expensive bikes can be damaged in a small crash with a motor vehicle.  These often happen in minor crashes (For example if you were "doored" at a low speed.)     If the frame or other parts are  slightly bent, but the bike still functions there may be a viable diminished value claim.  However if the bike is a run of the mill off the shelf bike (think $1500.00 or less)  then most likely you are not going to have a viable diminished value claim.

Why Didn't You Answer My Question About Diminished Value Cases In Oregon?   As I said earlier, there are numerous issues that can arise in these cases.  Please Call me if you have a question.  Call Portland Personal Injury Law Firm Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.

If you or someone you know has been in a car crash and is injured or their car was damaged feel free to call me, Jeremiah Ross, at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury or diminished value consultation.  Please remember the law is constantly changing and this blog post should not be used as a basis for filing a diminished value claim.  Please look at the law or discuss your case with an attorney.