Portland Personal Injury Attorney
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20 Questions to Ask After Being Involved in an Accident
1. Is it always necessary to hire a lawyer to handle a personal injury case?
If you want to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the full compensation to which you are entitled, then the answer is yes. While it's technically possible to go without a personal injury lawyer, doing so means that you essentially give all control to the insurance company. Here's the thing: The insurance company is not on your side. Conversations you have with insurance adjusters may be recorded, and insurance companies always try to settle for as little money as possible. Furthermore, additional compensation to which you may be entitled may not be brought to your attention. Without an experienced lawyer on your side, your legal rights won't be fully protected, and you're unlikely to receive all of the compensation that is owed to you.
2. Do I have to pay money up front for legal representation in the event of an accident?
No. Our firm handles personal injury cases on a contingency basis, which means that we only collect money if you are awarded compensation. As soon as you officially hire a personal injury attorney, he will go right to work on your case. Our firm will also pay the costs that are associated with your claim. You won't pay a thing unless we win.
3. The insurance company wants to take a recorded statement. Should I do it?
That depends. The only way to know for sure whether it is okay or not is by consulting with an experienced attorney. Your insurance company may require you to make a recorded statement after taking an oath. This is fairly standard and is required by many insurance policies. The other driver's insurance company may ask you to provide a recorded statement as well, and you should never agree to do so without having a skilled lawyer by your side. All too often, people unwittingly provide recorded statements that damage their claims later.
4. The other driver received a ticket, so why have I been declared at fault by the insurance company?
This is because of the way the law works in Oregon. In this state, tickets that police officers issue following an accident have no bearing on any subsequent civil claims. Just because the officer issued a ticket to one driver doesn't mean that the driver's insurance company will automatically assume responsibility. During any civil claim that follows, the officer may testify about what he saw upon arriving at the scene, and he may testify about any physical evidence that was collected as well. Any tickets that were issued following the accident will not come into play.
5. Do I really need to retain an attorney right after a car accident?
Yes. You should always retain a lawyer as quickly as possible after a crash. After making sure that everyone is okay, contact our office right away. By doing so, you will do what it takes to protect your rights from the very start. You can be certain that the insurance company will immediately go to work to disprove your case. Your lawyer will immediately begin an investigation to ensure that your rights are protected. Our office will also analyze your insurance coverage to ensure that you receive all of the compensation that you are owed.
6. My car was damaged in the crash. How can I get it repaired?
That depends on the type of coverage you have and other factors. If your policy includes collision and comprehensive coverage, it may be easier to just file a claim with your insurance company. You might want to take the claim to the other party's insurance company if it agrees that you're not responsible for the incident. In that case, it's important to proceed with caution. The other driver's insurance company will assess your car and make an offer. An attorney should review the offer before you accept it. In addition to being compensated for damages to your car or for its replacement value, you may be entitled to compensation for damages to its contents and for the loss of use of your vehicle.
7. The other driver caused the accident, so why is my car insurance company paying my medical bills?
In Oregon, your initial medical costs following an accident are always covered by your auto insurance company. This type of coverage is called personal injury protection, or PIP, and it's also called no-fault coverage. In most cases, PIP covers 80 percent of medical expenses after your deductible, and the maximum it pays is usually $10,000. As a result, it may not cover all of your medical expenses. At that point, you must file a claim against the other driver's car insurance. You might have to file a claim against your own auto insurance if you have UM coverage. If you don't own a car, you may be able to file a PIP claim against the insurance policy of the car you were in at the time of the accident or against the insurance of someone who lives with you.
8. What if the other driver is uninsured?
If the other party is responsible for the accident and doesn't have insurance, you may have a hard time collecting compensation. You can increase your odds of being compensated in a fair and timely manner by contacting our office right away. Another insurance company may be responsible for damages that you have incurred, and we will perform an investigation to determine whether you are entitled to compensation from the policy of someone who lives with you or from policies held by the other driver's employer or the owner of the other vehicle.
9. Will I receive a rental car?
You will receive a rental car if your policy includes rental car coverage. However, you have to act quickly to take advantage of this coverage. If you're unable to secure a rental car, you may be compensated for the loss of use of your vehicle.
10. Why can't I see my primary care physician following my car accident?
You can't see your regular doctor because your car insurance company becomes the primary payer instead of your health insurance company. This is because PIP coverage kicks in immediately following an accident. Your primary care doctor won't be able to bill your health insurance company and has to bill your auto insurance company instead. Many doctors are unwilling to do this, which is why you may need to find a different healthcare provider.
11. If my PIP runs out, what can I do?
Medical care is more expensive than ever, so PIP often falls far short. When that happens, you need to file a claim against the other driver's insurance company. You may also need to file one against your own insurance company. To continue receiving medical care in the meantime, you'll need a letter of protection from your attorney, which acts as an IOU of sorts. Your lawyer basically agrees to pay outstanding bills out of any settlement you receive in lieu of providing an upfront payment.
12. I'm having trouble finding a physician who accepts my auto insurance. Can you help?
Our clients run into this issue all the time, and we're happy to help. Our office will provide you with names of several clinics that are willing to bill your car insurance company directly. These clinics specialize in treating accident-related injuries. Chances are that you will receive ongoing treatment for several weeks or months, so it's crucial to find a conveniently located doctor with whom you are comfortable.
13. What is UM coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage, or UM coverage, is among the most important forms of coverage that you can buy. As long as you have it, your insurance company will compensate you for damages that are caused by a driver who doesn't have bodily injury coverage. Your UM coverage will also kick in if the other driver's insurance doesn't compensate you fully. Before you can settle with the other driver's insurance company, you must receive approval from your own. An attorney can guide you through this process to ensure that everything goes as smoothly
14. Do I really have to go to trial to receive compensation following a car accident?
There's no law that says you have to go to trial following an auto accident. In many cases, however, insurance companies are more willing to make fair offers when they believe you will take your case to trial. Your lawyer can help you prepare your case for a trial. Keep in mind, however, that very few car accident cases end up in the courtroom. The majority of them are settled out of court. That's especially true of cases that are thoroughly prepared, negotiated and handled by experienced personal injury lawyers.
15. What kinds of damages can I expect to receive?
According to Oregon law, you are entitled to compensation if you are injured in a car accident because of another person's negligence. The type of compensation that you receive will depend on the circumstances of your case. However, you may receive compensation for past and future lost wages, past and future medical bills and pain and suffering. Additional forms of compensation may also be owed to you, but there is no way to be sure without retaining a competent personal injury attorney. Without hiring an experienced lawyer, the odds of being fully compensated are very low.
16. Will it take a long time for my case to be settled?
The answer to that depends on many variables. For example, you should never settle a case while you are still being treated for injuries that were sustained during an accident. Additional injuries and problems may be uncovered later, so settling prematurely is not in your best interests. While many personal injury cases are settled out of court, a considerable number of them go to trial or are delayed. This usually happens because evidence concerning your case wasn't collected immediately following your accident, which is one of the main reasons to retain an experienced lawyer right away. Your attorney will immediately begin collecting evidence, so you won't have to face an army of adjusters and investigators from the insurance company alone.
17. How much compensation can I expect to receive?
Right at the start, there is no way to predict the amount of compensation you will receive with any degree of accuracy. Many different factors come into play, and they can have a major impact on how much compensation you are ultimately owed. Immediately following an accident, your injuries may seem relatively minor. After receiving treatment, however, additional problems may be uncovered, and the subsequent treatments could result in a much higher settlement. As nice as it would be to know how much your compensation will be, there's simply no way to know until much later.
18. My car insurance company wants me to see a specific doctor. Why?
The initial medical care that you receive following a car accident is paid for by your car insurance company through your PIP coverage. The insurance company is only responsible for paying for care that is necessary, reasonable and related to the crash. Your insurance company wants to have a specific doctor examine you to secure an impartial opinion. This is perfectly
19. How will my medical payments coverage affect my case?
Your insurance policy automatically includes personal injury protection coverage, or PIP coverage. You can also opt to pay extra for medical payments coverage, which is also known as Medpay. This type of coverage pays for medical expenses that are directly related to a car accident. PIP only covers 80 percent of your bill, so Medpay is nice to have. However, be sure to read the fine print or have a lawyer look over your policy for you. If Medpay is used, you may have to pay your auto insurance company back for it after settling with the liable party's insurance company. Knowing what to do can be very confusing, and it's yet another example of why it pays to have a competent and experienced personal injury lawyer by your side in this situation.
20. I have to drive a long way to and from my doctor's office. Can I be reimbursed for it?
Absolutely. Mileage to and from a doctor's office for treatments that are directly related to a car accident can be reimbursed through your insurance policy's PIP coverage. However, you need to be meticulous about keeping track of your mileage, and you need to save all of your records. It's easy to leave something out and be denied compensation, so check with your lawyer to ensure that you will be reimbursed for all of your mileage. Even if it's not a lot of money, every little bit helps. You deserve to be fully compensated when you are injured in a car accident due to another person's negligence.
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Portland Personal Injury Attorney - (503) 222-6844 or toll free 1-800-347-4269