Which insurance company pays for Bicyclist / Pedestrian injuries?

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Which insurance company pays for Bicyclist / Pedestrian injuries?

Which insurance company pays for Bicyclist / Pedestrian injuries?

If you’ve been in a pedestrian versus vehicle accident, or in a bicycle versus vehicle accident, this article will help you understand which insurance company is supposed to pay for your medical treatment costs.

Insurance adjusters often get it wrong, and even the injured person can end up scratching their head wondering just exactly who should pay, and when. One might reasonably think, “well the at-fault party should pay, right?”  The answer is yes, but no, not immediately, except in some circumstances.

OK, let’s cut through the morass. Simply put, when you are a pedestrian, or a bicyclist, and are injured in an accident involving a car, then the first insurance company in line to pay for your treatment costs is your own automobile liability policy. Now you may be saying, “Wait,… what? My car wasn’t involved. I’m not at fault” That is right, even though your car wasn’t involved, and you are not at fault, the PIP coverage offered in your automobile liability policy will be first in line to pay for your treatment costs, even before your health care insurer.

If you don’t have your own automobile liability policy, then the next insurer in line is your own health care insurance. Your health care insurance is second in line, after your automobile liability policy. In some circumstances a pedestrian or bicyclist’s injuries are so significant and catastrophic that the amount available in PIP coverage under their automobile liability policy is exhausted by the treatment costs, and their health care insurance then kicks in to begin covering medical costs. Be aware that both of these insurers have subrogation rights, meaning they have the right to be reimbursed, and can assert that right through a lien against your case settlement proceeds.

Now, what if you do not have any personal automobile liability coverage, nor any health care insurance, then the PIP coverage of the automobile liability policy of the at-fault driver is the next option. Think of this coverage as third in line, after your own personal automobile liability policy and your own health care insurance.

Adjusters for the insurance companies involved, and even lawyers can sometimes get this wrong, particularly when it comes to bicyclists, in part, because of confusion over the meaning of the phrase “self-propelled vehicle” used in the statute, and consequently the policy at issue. ORS 742.518(6). A closer examination of the law elsewhere proves that “self-propelled vehicle” does not include bikes.

What is important to realize is that if you were injured by a vehicle while walking, or when riding a bike, that you can often get your medical costs covered immediately, from a number of different sources. And yes, ultimately the at-fault driver must compensate you fully for your damages and injuries, not merely for your treatment costs.

Clint Jones

Clint Jones

Clint Jones is a personal injury litigation attorney, and has been practicing law in Oregon since 2006.

Wrongful Death

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Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death

I’ve handled, investigated and analyzed many wrongful death cases, including deaths from structure fire, drowning, bicyclists hit by cars, persons killed by drunk drivers, negligently driven semi truck accidents which resulted in a person dying, and road construction designs that caused automobile accident deaths. The suddenness of the event, and the shock to the family, can leave them reeling from the loss, and uncertain of how to proceed with handling the loved one’s estate, and any potential wrongful death claim.

If you find yourself in the position of having lost a loved one, it is understandably hard to take action when you are mourning; it is difficult to reason about legal issues, when your heart has been crushed. I want to offer some advice that you may find surprising. Think of the issue like this: you need relief, you need time to think about the loss, and you need to be able to grieve. If you take the time to consult with an attorney, you will feel better that you have taken action for your loved one. If you retain an attorney, you will have a weight taken off your shoulders. In short, understanding the legal issues, and taking action is therapeutic.

Generally speaking, an action for wrongful death must commence within three years “after the injury causing the death of the decedent is discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered…” ORS 30.020. But is important to understand that far more prompt action is the prudent course. For example, if the case is against a public body, then Tort Claim Notice must be sent within one year of the loss. ORS 30.275. Failure to send that notice can cause the claim to extinguish as a matter of law.

It is also not well known that the lawsuit for wrongful death is brought on behalf of the decedent’s estate by the personal representative. That means that an estate must be opened in the probate court, and a personal representative named by the court. In some counties, the court will require the personal representative to complete a fiduciary education course before issuing the letters of administration. Opening the probate and getting the personal representative on board takes time that could affect the ability to handle the wrongful death claim in the best possible manner.

Another issue to consider, that bears on why prompt action is important, is the issue of evidence. In many cases immediate action is necessary to discover and preserve the evidence necessary to establish a meritorious case. One example are fire cases. In these types of cases, my firm hires experts immediately to get to the scene and examine the evidence. State and county investigators are typically not sufficient. You need experts who care about the case from your perspective, not the public bodies’ perspective.

Finally, be wary of the attorney who is overly sympathetic. Yes, when you are grieving, an attorney who understands what you are going through is important, but a lawyer who can’t keep her eye on the ball is not going to help you in the long run. You need an objective, hard-charging, experienced attorney, and not necessarily someone who is merely able to express a tenderness that you relate to during a time of grief. You need to select an attorney who is going to zealously investigate the case and work to find compensation to cover the needs of dependents. Trust me when I say that the moment you hire the right attorney, you will feel relief, and know that you have acted in the best interests of the decedent’s loved ones.

Clint Jones

Clint Jones

Clint Jones is a personal injury litigation attorney, and has been practicing law in Oregon since 2006.

Uninsured Motorists are on the Rise in Oregon

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Uninsured Motorists are on the Rise in Oregon

Uninsured Motorists are on the Rise in Oregon

Recent statistics suggest that the percentage of uninsured drivers in Oregon is on the rise. Currently, it appears that the percentage of uninsured drivers in Oregon is approaching 13%. That statistic should be alarming to every Oregonian. Nationwide, the statistics are similarly concerning. What that means is that if you are in a motor vehicle accident, you have a roughly 1 in 8 chance that it will be with a driver that is uninsured.

How do you protect yourself? Every policy of insurance issued in Oregon has Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. The amount of Uninsured Motorist coverage is, generally speaking, equal to the amount of liability coverage you purchase. So, for instance, if you have a policy that provides liability coverage for a single injured person in the amount of $100,000.00, then you will have $100,000.00 in Uninsured Motorist coverage which protects you in the event you are in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist.

Sadly, people often choose to purchase too little coverage. In Oregon, a person can have as little as $25,000.00 in coverage. That sum is often not enough to cover their damages. It makes sense to purchase as much in liability coverage, and consequently Uninsured Motorist coverage, as possible in order to protect yourself, your passengers, and your family. 

If you are a high earner, then it stands to reason that your liability and Uninsured Motorist coverage should reflect that. Consider a situation where you can no longer work, and that circumstance being caused by an uninsured motorist. Would your current coverage amount be sufficient to compensate you for the lost wages and/or future impairment?

As your wages and earnings increase, so should your coverage. As you accumulate more personal worth, you should similarly increase your automobile liability coverage, and in concert, your Uninsured Motorist coverage.

If you have been an accident with a driver who does not have insurance, or their policy is insufficient to cover your damages, it is important that you speak with a lawyer to know what your options are, and how you can recover compensation for all your damages.

Clint Jones

Clint Jones

Clint Jones is a personal injury litigation attorney, and has been practicing law in Oregon since 2006.

PIP Coverage in Oregon for Motorcycle Riders

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PIP Coverage in Oregon for Motorcycle Riders

PIP Coverage in Oregon for Motorcycle Riders

Every automobile liability policy in Oregon is issued with PIP coverage, but the law does not require it for motorcycle insurance policies. PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection and is a provision in your automobile policy that provides for medical expense coverage, and wage loss in the event of an accident.

Often motorcycle riders are aware of PIP coverage because their automobile policy is issued with this coverage, but riders sometimes don’t realize it is not required to be included coverage in their motorcycle policy. Insurance agents rarely make the motorcycle rider aware that PIP is not included in their policy, and moreover, that the motorcycle rider can obtain PIP coverage on their policy. That is right, even though it is not required by the law, you as the rider can obtain PIP coverage.

I highly recommend that motorcycle riders inquire with their insurance agent about obtaining PIP coverage. Sometimes, particular insurance companies do not offer PIP on motorcycles, but there are many insurance companies that do. Don’t allow your allegiance to an agent to keep you from changing insurers if necessary in order to get PIP Coverage added to your motorcycle policy.

The severity of injuries which result from motorcycle accidents often require significant treatment, and time off of work. PIP coverage protects you in this scenario. When you are in an accident with someone else who is at fault, PIP coverage kicks in immediately so that you do not have outstanding bills while your claim is pending.

Prudent riders not only invest in the best helmet, outerwear, and gloves, but also in coverage which includes Personal Injury Protection.c

Clint Jones

Clint Jones

Clint Jones is a personal injury litigation attorney, and has been practicing law in Oregon since 2006.