Most Frequent Questions and Answers
In Oregon, the responsible party rarely pays your medical costs in the immediate aftermath of an accident. The reason is that Oregon law requires every auto policy to have what is called Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP). See ORS 742.524 et seq. PIP is meant to be the initial primary payor of medical costs after an accident. Yes, even though you are not at fault, your PIP coverage, provided for in your automobile liability policy, will pay first.
If you are a passenger in another person’s car – the driver’s insurance pays for your initial medical bills; the PIP in your auto policy is a backup in this scenario. Although this seems confusing, PIP insurance benefits the injured party. Without PIP, many people would be in debt to medical providers while they are trying to get a fair settlement from the responsible insurance company. Be aware that when you are not at fault, your PIP insurer has the right to be reimbursed. It is important to get clarity on this issue by contacting an attorney for advice about the issue of PIP reimbursement.
If you are a pedestrian, or a bicyclist, who was injured by someone driving a vehicle, it is important that you speak with an attorney.
If your car was damaged and you are at fault, you can only get it repaired if you have collision coverage. If someone else was at fault, you have two options.
Option one: If you have collision coverage, you can use your insurance company. The advantage of using your own coverage is that your insurer may be easier to work with, and may give you a better result. The disadvantage is that you may have a deductible, and your premiums may increase down the road (yes, even though you are not at fault).
Option two: You can use the insurance company of the liable (at-fault) party to facilitate your claim. The at-fault party (and consequently their insurer) has the right to repair or the right to replace. They always choose the option that is cheaper; if repair is cheapest, then they choose repair – and if replacement is cheaper, then they choose the replacement. The advantage of using the at-fault insurer is that there is no deductible applied. The disadvantage is that they often do the very least they can, and getting the repair performed promptly can be an issue.
“Pain and Suffering” is a phrase term used to describe noneconomic damages which include more than pain and suffering, but also emotional damages, anxiety, psychological trauma, changing life circumstances and the like that are subjectively experienced by the injured person. It is a phrase which is often not well understood and may invoke strong opinions about claims made for these types of damages. When a person has been injured they always suffer from pain, they always have life changes that the law says must be compensated. It stands to reason that the most obvious, and meaningful form of remediating a person for pain and suffering caused by another is payment of valuable consideration. Does that make the pain go away? No, but it is the best form of compensation known to man, and the payment of something of value to another who has been injured has been in existence for over 2500 years.
The liable party is ultimately responsible for any wages you have lost as a result of an accident. That amount, however, is NOT paid until the conclusion of your claim. Near term, help can come in a number of forms. First, through your own PIP insurance. Generally speaking, your PIP policy provides for lost wages after the 14th consecutive day of missed work, in the amount of 70% of your usual and customary wages. The adjuster assigned to your PIP claim (remember this is the insurer of your car or the insurer of the car you were in) will be able to help you process your PIP wage loss claim. Second, if you have a short term disability policy, such as AFLAC, you may have the right to wage loss benefits.
Know that the responsible party, at the time of settlement or jury award, is on the hook for all of you lost wages attributable to the accident. If you are missing work, it is important that your doctor provide a note releasing you from work, and if you are given restrictions by your doctor, that you comply. If your doctor thinks you can work, but your employer cannot accommodate the restrictions placed on you by your doctor, then you should look to be compensated for those losses from the at-fault party.
If you are in a situation where you are considering getting a loan on your claim, you should contact a Eugene Injury Attorney immediately. There are many lenders who want to give you money now, in exchange for payment by you to them later. The terms of these loans are onerous and can make settling your claim more difficult. Jackson Jones does not recommend that you rely on these types of loans. Moreover, attorneys sometimes will not take your case where there exists a loan secured by the settlement funds. Be extremely wary of accepting money in the form of a loan that must be repaid from settlement proceeds.
Length of time to reach a settlement of a claim depends on several variables. Negotiations can take as little as weeks to months, and in some cases finalizing a claim can span multiple years. Some factors include degree of severity of an injury and/or claims, access to information, access to witnesses and/or testimonials from involved parties and more. An important consideration is when to settle the claim. Jackson Jones recommends that, if possible, all treatment should be finished before finalizing the claim, or alternatively, that all future necessary treatment has been evaluated by the physician and the amounts necessary to cover those costs are established.
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