|Car Accidents and Personal Injury Claims
DEALING WITH THE CAR INSURANCE ADJUSTER ~
Insurance companies have the claims management process down to a science. The adjuster for the negligent driver calls, knows what to ask and how to ask it, and has a single goal – to save the company money. The claims adjuster might seem friendly at times, like he or she is there to help you, or they might be intimidating in the hope you will drop your claim. The insurance adjuster you have to be most worried about is probably the one you find yourself liking the most.
Your own auto insurance is required by law to pay reasonable and necessary medical bills and lost wages under PIP, regardless of who caused the crash. PIP policies typically pay up to $15,000 for medical coverage and a percentage of wages lost. PIP medical coverage can be exhausted easily with a single night in the emergency room. Consider raising your PIP limits: It is relatively cheap to do, and can provide much more protection, whether you are in your car or on your bicycle.
Only after a lawsuit is filed can either side force the other to do anything. There is no right to an insurance settlement. The best insurance settlements for personal injury cases come about as a result of arm’s length negotiations between the insurance company’s lawyer and the plaintiff’s attorney. Both lawyers know what the other can do. The insurance lawyer or adjuster knows the plaintiff’s lawyer can try the case, and the plaintiff’s lawyer knows a bird in the hand is sometimes worth two in the bush. Jury trials are risky, and to take one on, the plaintiff has to feel confident in his or her lawyer’s ability. There are no guarantees, even with the best.
One of the reasons jury trials are risky is because of insurance propaganda and an evidentiary prohibition against a plaintiff’s lawyer telling a jury the defendant has insurance. Jurors may believe the 93 year old lady with the sparkly blue eyes who ran the red light and broadsided your work truck is going to have to pay you back out of her own pocket, so jurors reduce the verdict to be easy on her. When jurors cut a deserving plaintiff’s verdict out of sympathy for a kindly appearing defendant, the insurance company pockets the difference.
What if you are involved in a car crash with a drunk driver? An establishment that serves a visibly intoxicated driver may be as legally liable to pay damages as the drunk driver — and have deeper pockets. Call us for a free consultation to discuss any drunk driving “accident,” that happens in Oregon.
What is pain and suffering? Loss of mobility, loss of sleep, loss of independence, and loss of sexual function are examples of the type of non-economic losses compensable under the rubric of pain and suffering. Running, biking, hiking, playing music, dancing, reading, gardening, walking the dog, and yoga are examples of things we enjoy. Pain and suffering claims include compensation for these intangible, yet very real, losses.
Q: What is the most important thing for me to do after my injury?
- Arm yourself with knowledge.
- Show you care about getting better as soon as possible so the insurance company doesn’t call you a slacker (they may, anyways, but don’t make it easy for them).
- Don’t miss any doctor or therapy appointments without an excuse because if you miss appointments it looks like you don’t care about getting better.
- Keep track of all paperwork.
- Thank witnesses who offered you help at the scene.
- Don’t give a statement to the adverse insurance company.
- Don’t sign anything for the adverse insurance company.
- Call a personal injury lawyer soon for a free consultation.
Q: Who pays my accident related medical bills?
A: Your lawyer will discuss medical bill payment with you in detail. One of the following methods for payment may be available:
- Your auto insurance company pays PIP benefits, even if you were not at fault. Your company will seek to be paid back, though.
- When medical insurance under PIP is exhausted, then health insurance pays medical bills. It too will seek to be paid back.
- If there is neither auto nor health insurance, the other driver’s auto PIP policy may be liable if you were a pedestrian or on a bike.
Q: How does my personal injury lawyer get paid?
A: Your attorney will be paid a percentage of the final settlement or judgment, if there is one. If there isn’t a settlement or judgment, there is no attorney fee under a contingent fee agreement.
Q: Besides attorney fees, what other costs are there?
A: In addition to attorney fees, all attorneys offering contingent fee agreements in Oregon are required by the Oregon State Bar to hold clients accountable for costs that are advanced on the case. Examples of costs that are advanced in almost every case include medical bills and records, police reports, 911 calls, etc.
Q: I’ve never been involved in an auto accident before and have never needed an attorney. What am I entitled to recover in a personal injury case?
- The obvious include medical bills and lost wages;
- Property damage and rental charges;
- Pain and suffering damages including loss of enjoyment of life.
- Damages for permanent impairment or permanent scarring.
- And in special cases under ORS 20.080, attorney fees and costs.
Call Steve at 503-224-5077 to discuss automobile accident and insurance claims. Motor vehicle accident – MVA — claims are this Portland lawyer’s specialty.