Car accident lawyers get asked a lot of questions on a day to day basis. At Jackson Jones Law we have compiled the top 3 most common questions that we are asked on a regular basis. Clint Jones answers these common auto accident questions for you. We hope that you will never be in an auto accident, but if you are, then we can help you prepare for how to handle that situation.
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, in 2018 there were 50,099 reported crashes in the state of Oregon. One study conducted by an insurance company found that 77% of all people will be involved in at least one accident in their lifetime. These statistics show how frequent and common car accidents are. It is advisable to be prepared, understand what action to take at the scene of an accident, and know your legal rights.
Generally speaking, after an auto accident, you are entitled to economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages consist of losses such as medical costs, both those you incur in the immediate time after the accident and future costs. Wage loss and impairment of future earnings potential are also economic damages. There are other types of economic damages as well. In addition to economic damages you have non-economic damages which people tend to call “pain and suffering”.
Non-economic damages are subjective damages and include pain, anxiety, suffering, emotional trauma, changes to your life or the ability to perform certain activities. Think of a person whose hobby is to play the saxophone. If that person cannot play the sax as a result of injuries from an accident, that loss is a non-economic damage that has value and is compensable. People often ask about Punitive Damages.
Punitive damages are not recoverable in a civil action unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the party against whom punitive damages are sought has acted with malice or has shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and has acted with a conscious indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others. (See ORS 31.730).
Punitive damages are not commonly claimed in motor vehicle accidents because it is rare for the evidence to show that a person has acted with the level of malice or reckless indifference necessary to prove the claim. Nevertheless a car accident lawyer will examine all types of damages, and the standards necessary to prove the claim in evaluating every case.
If you’re seriously injured in a car accident, stay in the vehicle until the ambulance arrives. You need to perform a self assessment of your injury status to decide whether you are able to exit the vehicle. Never attempt to exit the vehicle when it would be dangerous to do so. If it is safe for you to exit the vehicle, and you are not seriously injured, you can exit for purposes of handling your responsibilities, assessing the status of others involved, and contacting emergency services. It is important to call the police right away and tell them there has been an accident.
Ask the police to come out and investigate the scene. The police are going to ask if someone has been injured and you should respond by telling them that you don’t know with certainty if someone is hurt. I recommend you ask the police to come and help figure that out. Often people, due to shock and adrenaline, do not realize they are hurt. Often people will, when asked if they are OK, say “yes”, meaning “I’m alive”, not meaning “gosh I feel great”. So it is important for emergency personnel to come out and perform an evaluation of the persons involved.
When you are at the scene, if you are capable, you need to get the information of the other persons involved in the accident. The driver’s license of the other drivers involved and the insurance information are the most basic necessity. One method I recommend is to take pictures of the driver’s license and insurance card with your phone. Also, you can get the necessary information from the police officer who prepares an exchange information form.
Sometimes officers ask each person to write out their own information. I recommend you look at the other person’s license and insurance card to ensure that the driver’s license and insurance card information is correctly depicted on the exchange information form (which they filled out). Another task I recommend at the scene is to take some pictures of the car damage, the scene, and especially the resting place of the cars (if possible).
You should call the insurance company that insures the car you were in and open a PIP claim. Finally we recommend that you file a DMV report. For a list of steps to take when involved in an auto accident go to our auto accident page or contact a car accident lawyer.
Initially after the accident, it is not common in Oregon for the at fault party’s insurance to pay for your medical costs. Instead, in Oregon, the insurance that covers the car that you are in, even if that car was not at fault, will have a provision called PIP (Personal Injury Protection). That provision will pay for your medical bills initially after the accident. Even if the car you were in was not your car, you should call the insurance that covers that car and open up a PIP claim. The insurer who insures the car you were in will pay for your medical costs through the PIP coverage.
Imagine a circumstance where you are in a friend’s vehicle when an accident occurs. The insurance company that insures your friend’s vehicle will provide PIP coverage. You might be surprised to learn that if that coverage exhausts the amount available, if you have a car that is insured, even though that vehicle was not involved in the accident, the PIP coverage for that vehicle will be second in line, not your health insurance.
This is important to realize because while your health insurance may have a large deductible or out of pocket payment requirements, your PIP will not. PIP will exhaust when one or two events occur: either two years from the accident passes, or you use all the amounts available in coverage, whichever of these events occurs first will cause the PIP to exhaust. Consulting with car accident lawyer about PIP coverage is advisable because it is complicated and you should understand your rights and obligations which pertain to this coverage.
If you have any additional questions about your auto accident claim, reach out to a car accident lawyer or click the button below to contact Jackson Jones Law.