Negotiating with a Portland Insurance Company

Victims of an auto accident should be able to make a claim to receive compensation from an auto insurer.  In Portland, drivers have to buy bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP).  The broad minimum coverage requirements mean almost everyone should be able to recover compensation if they get hurt in a collision. Oregon Mutual, Grange, Amica, and Allied are among the insurance companies who make automobile insurance policies available to Oregon consumers and who will provide compensation to victims who get hurt in Oregon auto accidents. burning-ambulance-1398173

After you’ve been hurt, you need an experienced accident lawyer that knows how to effectively negotiate with a Portland insurance company to get the money you are entitled to following an accident.  Some of the challenges that occur during negotiation include:

  • Insurers aren’t on your side. Insurance companies want to pay as little to you as possible, in most cases. They’ll be looking for ways to deny your claim, trip you up and get you to change your story, or get you to accept less in compensation than you deserve. You need to be prepared to protect your rights, which usually means having a lawyer help you.
  • Different insurers cover different losses. If you suffered injury, regardless of who was at fault, but your injuries weren’t very costly or serious, you’ll make a personal injury protection claim with your insurance company. If you got hurt because another driver was negligent but that driver had no insurance or insufficient insurance, you’ll make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurer. If you got hurt by another driver who had insurance coverage, you’ll make a claim with that driver’s insurer.
  • Insurers usually make low ball settlement offers. Your attorney should send a demand letter to the insurer to ask for an appropriate amount of compensation so you start negotiating based on a dollar amount you believe is fair. If the insurer counters back, you’ll negotiate back and forth until you reach a number that is reasonable- if the insurer is willing to be reasonable. If not, you may need to go to court.
  • A liability release is permanent. Before an insurer will pay your damage claim, you’ll have to sign a release of liability. You cannot change your mind once this happens.  Be sure your settlement covers your damages and that you know the full extent of your losses before agreeing to settle your claim.
  • Know how to respond if an insurer won’t be fair. If your own insurer denies legitimate claims or doesn’t treat you fairly, you’ll need to make a bad faith claim. If the other driver’s insurer won’t make a fair settlement offer, you’ll need to pursue a personal injury claim.

By keeping these key pieces of info in mind, you will have a greater chance at recovering the compensation you deserve.

What to Do After Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Accidents

A tragic accident left an Oregon pedestrian dead recently. Law enforcement officers reported to the scene of an accident and found the victim lying in the middle of the road. Statesman Journal indicated that law enforcement officers determined the victim had been hit by a car and the driver of the car had left the scene of the crash. Police were asking anyone with information to contact law enforcement to provide details. Law enforcement officers also asked for local repair shops to keep an eye out for cars which had unexplained vehicle damage. pedestrian-1528286

Pedestrian accidents which cause fatalities are always tragic and damaging for family members the victim left behind. Unfortunately, in cases where a hit-and-run occurred, the losses suffered by the family may be especially severe. This is because while most crash victims and their families can pursue a claim against the driver who caused the death, it is not possible to do this in a hit-and-run unless the driver can be found.

What to Do After Hit and Run Pedestrian Accidents

When hit-and-run pedestrian accidents occur, locating the driver responsible for the accident is a top priority, especially if the accident is a fatal one. Drivers are required to stay at the scene to provide identifying information and talk with law enforcement officers who respond to the crash. It is a crime for motorists not to stop, and police will seek community help in identifying the hit-and-run driver, as they have done in this case.

If the pedestrian survives the accident, they should try to provide as much information as possible to the police to help law enforcement officers find the driver who was involved. This could include a description of the car and any partial or full license plate numbers. Unfortunately, if the victim is deceased, as in this case, law enforcement often has limited evidence to go on to find hit and run drivers. Still, it may be possible for the driver to be identified.

If the driver who caused the hit-and-run pedestrian accident is found, family members of the deceased can potentially make a wrongful death claim. If a victim survives but suffers serious injury, the victim could also pursue a personal injury lawsuit. The victim would need to be able to show the driver who was identified as leaving the scene of the crash was, in fact, the motorist who caused the accident to occur.

If the hit-and-run driver is never found, it may be possible for pedestrian accident victims or their families to try to recover at least some compensation from the victim’s auto insurer. Oregon law requires extensive insurance coverage, including personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured motorist coverage, and uninsured motorist coverage. Insurance can provide some compensation to victims and their families when a hit-and-run driver is not identified.

Holding Drivers Accountable for Oregon Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents create a significant risk of death for those on motorcycles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates there is a substantially greater risk of death when involved in a crash on a motorcycle, as compared with in a passenger car.  Unfortunately, all too often, it is people in cars who make the unsafe choices which end up costing motorcycle riders their lives. motorcycle-1450689

Just recently, KVAL reported on one Oregon man who was potentially responsible for causing a motorcycle accident.

The alleged actions of this driver did not just result in one fatality, but actually may have killed three motorcyclists. The bikers were visiting from Germany, and notifying the families in a foreign country was creating complications for law enforcement.

Holding Drivers Accountable for Oregon Motorcycle Accidents

The actions of the driver from Oregon that allegedly killed the three German bikers have resulted in the driver being arrested and facing criminal charges.

The driver was 61-years-old and was driving a 2003 pickup truck. He was reportedly in the process of negotiating a right-hand curve on the road. He failed to negotiate the curve properly, according to Patrol Captain Tom Pritchard. As a result, the driver crossed into oncoming traffic.

The incident happened at around 12:15 PM. When the driver crossed the yellow line into oncoming traffic, he smashed into a large group of motorcycle riders. Two men and one woman on the motorcycles were killed. Three additional motorcyclists were injured, but said to be in stable condition at the hospital where they were transported after the incident.

The Oregon man who was arrested for hitting the bikers was being held at a detention center pending his first court appearance. It was not yet clear why he had crossed the center lane, but there was speculation he may have been taking pain medications after a recent abdominal surgery.

It remains to be seen if the Oregon man will actually be convicted of any criminal offenses for his role in the accident which led to the three deaths. In addition to criminal charges, it is also possible for drivers who cause motorcycle accidents to be held liable in civil court.

In civil court, victims hurt in motorcycle accidents (or surviving family members in situations where a motorcycle accident is deadly), can pursue claims against the driver who caused the collisions to occur. These cases are entirely separate from any criminal proceedings and the goal is for the victims of the accidents to be compensated for both economic losses and non-financial damages the crash has caused to occur.

The standard of proof and the process of making a civil case are very different than in a criminal case, and victims who wish to pursue a lawsuit in civil court to obtain damages should ensure they have a qualified legal advocate to provide assistance in making a case to obtain damages.

It is also possible for these cases to settle outside of court, if an agreement on compensation can be reached between crash victims and those responsible for providing compensation.

These Tips Can Help Portland Motorists to Avoid Getting Rear-Ended

Among the most common types of motor vehicle accidents, rear-end collisions can cause serious injuries or fatalities. Drivers have to be aware of the risks of rear-end crashes and of the top ways to prevent these accidents from occurring. When motorists make safer choices, crashes can be avoided. gps-driving-2-1353290

Tips to Avoid Getting Rear-Ended

In a typical rear-end crash, the driver in the rear vehicle is presumed to be the one who is responsible for causing the accident to occur. This is because the rear driver is expected to leave enough space in order to react to what the front driver does in the car. If the rear driver hits the front car, obviously he failed to leave sufficient space, and this failure was the likely cause of the collision.

While rear drivers are usually considered at fault, all drivers can take steps to try to avoid becoming involved in rear-end accidents. This includes trying to avoid being rear-ended. To reduce the chances your vehicle will be struck from the back, you should:

  • Use your signals. Don’t suddenly pull into another lane as another driver could end up rear-ending you. Use the turn signals to alert motorists to your intentions. Using your signal will also help drivers behind you to anticipate when you are going to slow down in preparation for a turn.
  • Don’t stop short if you can help it. When you slam on your brakes, you’ll be rear-ended unless the driver behind you is also able to slam on his or her brakes as well. If you can avoid stopping short, you reduce the danger. Be vigilant in paying attention to the road around you and try to look up as far ahead of you as possible so you can identify obstacles in plenty of time to avoid having to hit the brakes and stop suddenly.
  • Try not to vary your speed too much for no reason. If you are constantly speeding up and then slowing down, other drivers behind you may have a hard time anticipating your speed and reacting accordingly. When you slow down for no reason, the driver who is directly behind you may not notice or be able to slow down his own car on time.
  • Watch what other drivers are doing and leave yourself an escape. If you stop at an intersection, don’t pull right up behind the car in front of you as you’ll have no where to go if another car looks like it isn’t going to stop. Watch oncoming cars in your mirrors and make sure they are planning to brake when they approach your car.

Even when you do everything right, you cannot control what other motorists do. You need to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep yourself safe, but must also understand your rights if another driver rear-ends you despite your best efforts.

Portland accident victims should contact Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys at Law, by calling 1-503-287-5000 or visiting http://www.zbinden-curtis.com.  Serving Portland, Hillsboro, Gresham and surrounding areas.

Pedestrian Death in Oregon Shows Dangers for Walkers

In Oregon, a police officer was on regular patrol when he observed a collision which caused the death of a young boy. The collision happened at 4:16 PM and the police officer responded immediately to render aid and try to resuscitate the young boy. The incident happened at an intersection which KOIN6 reported has been described as “treacherous.” There is a MAX train going east and west in the intersection, there is vehicle traffic at the intersection, and there is pedestrian traffic as well as children playing on the corner. pedestrian-crossing-sign-1445100

In this case, the 10-year-old boy who was killed in the crash was hit by a white vehicle which was headed east. It was not known whether the boy was in the crosswalk at the time of the incident. A neighbor told KOIN6 she had also witnessed a deadly pedestrian accident in the same location the prior November and she commented about the intersection: “It’s very dangerous, very, very dangerous.”

Unfortunately, many pedestrians die in Oregon each year, not only at this intersection but on roads throughout the state. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported pedestrians accounted for 48 of the 313 people killed statewide in car accidents over the course of 2013. This was 15.3 percent of fatalities statewide. Pedestrians and drivers can all come together to try to bring down death rates so tragic collisions like this recent deadly crash can be avoided.

Preventing Pedestrian Collisions in Oregon

NHTSA explains when and where pedestrian crashes are most likely to occur, and motorists and walkers can learn about these dangerous locations so they can make sure they are careful in high risk situations.

For example, NHTSA indicates 69 percent of crashes happen outside of intersections, compared with 20 percent at intersections and around 10 percent at other spots like on trails. Pedestrians must be cautious regarding walking on roads when outside of designated crosswalks. They should avoid stepping out in between cars, should cross at intersections whenever possible, and should try to avoid walking on road shoulders or other roads without sidewalks.

Drivers can also try to avoid striking walkers at non-intersections by avoiding high-risk behaviors like speeding and driving while distracted. It is a good idea for drivers to slow down when in residential neighborhoods, school zones, or other spots where there tend to be high concentrations of children. As summer comes and more children are outside, this will become increasingly important.

NTSA also indicated 72 percent of pedestrians who are killed are involved in accidents at night, while just 25 percent experience fatal collisions in daylight. Two percent of deadly pedestrian crashes occur at dusk and another two percent of daily pedestrian collisions occur at dawn.  Drivers have to be more careful to look for pedestrians when it has begun to get dark. Pedestrians can also take steps to protect themselves from these night collisions, like wearing reflective clothing so it is easier for drivers to see them after dark.

Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents Increase 27 Percent in Oregon

Motor vehicle accident fatalities soared 27 percent higher last year in Oregon. It marks the largest percentage increase of any state in the country, according to a recent nationwide study which revealed that fatalities nationwide caused by car accidents rose by the largest percentage in 50 years in 2015.

These alarming statistics were released by the National Safety Council (NSC), a non-profit organization that has been analyzing accident data each year since 1921.

As attorneys who see the devastating impact of car accidents, we view this report as a call to action for all drivers to stay focused behind the wheel. Avoid distractions. Remain sober. Too much is at stake to take unnecessary risks. If you or a loved one is injured, contact us immediately to know your rights.

The nationwide spike in car accident deaths

According to the organization’s latest study, motor vehicle fatalities increased by 8 percent nationwide in 2015 based on preliminary accident statistics. Overall, there were 38,300 fatalities and 4.4 million injuries in 2015 due to motor vehicle accidents. Such fatalities include people killed in accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians and cyclists.

As for Oregon, the NSC simply noted on its website that traffic fatalities increased by 27 percent in 2015. No specific numbers were provided for the total number of deaths. But based on statistics for 2014 compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when 357 people died in motor vehicle accidents, a 27 percent increase would represent 96 additional deaths or 453 deaths total in Oregon in 2015.

Why did auto accident fatalities go up so much in Oregon?

The NSC cited several reasons for the increase nationwide last year in the number of motor vehicle accidents – a stronger economy, lower gas prices and an increase in the average number of miles driven by most drivers last year.

In Oregon, officials believe the increase in the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2015 can be attributed to speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving and not wearing seatbelts. Oregon transportation officials discussed traffic fatalities for 2015 on Sept. 30 last year, when statistics were released for the 12-month period ending Sept. 23, 2015.

During that 12-month period, the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents in Oregon increased by 31 percent overall. Pedestrian fatalities rose especially sharply, increasing by 64 percent during the same 12-month period, according to an article about the report published by The Oregonian newspaper. Amy Joyce, the legislative liaison for the Oregon Department of Transportation, called such statistics “pretty sobering,” according to The Oregonian.

‘What can I do to prevent a fatal car accident?’

The NSC offered several recommendations for making our roads safer and reducing the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Such suggestions include:

  • Avoiding cell phone use while driving
  • Not driving drunk (designate a sober driver)
  • Regularly wearing your seatbelt
  • Getting enough sleep and taking breaks if tired
  • Teaching teenage drivers safe driving habits

Oregon officials added that drivers should also not drive over the speed limit, especially on rural roads, according to The Oregonian article.

Even so, accidents can happen, no matter how safe or responsible drivers are in Oregon. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior, we can help. Our attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis have decades of experience working with accident victims in Portland and throughout Oregon. Call (503) 287-5000 and schedule a free case evaluation today.

Preventing Three Dangerous Types of Oregon Truck Accidents

Truck drivers are expected to exercise reasonable caution to prevent truck accidents in Oregon. Unfortunately, accidents can and do happen in spite of that expectation. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported there were 330,000 large trucks involved in accidents nationwide over the course of 2012. Truck drivers should be following the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), other rules of the road, and best practices for safety to try to avoid all types of truck collisions. truck-1427133

Accidents, however, unfortunately will continue to happen. While trucks can become involved in many different kinds of accidents, there are three common types of truck crashes that often cause serious injuries and deaths.

Three Common and Dangerous Types of Oregon Truck Accidents

Three of the most common types of truck accidents include:

  • Rollover truck accidents. Trucks are top heavy, which makes a rollover more likely. Unbalanced loads can exacerbate the risk, as can worn brakes.  Rollover accidents make up about 18 percent of truck accidents according to one paper published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The death rate is disproportionally high compared with the total percentage of rollover accidents. About 35 percent of deadly truck accidents involve a rollover.
  • Underride accidents. Underride accidents happen because trucks are higher than surrounding cars. When a collision occurs, surrounding cars can actually get forced under the truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) warns that side and rear guards aren’t as effective as they should be for stopping underride accidents. In 23 out of 28 deadly truck accidents included in one study, there was significant underride, so much more needs to be done to protect the public.  As many as 432 people die on average each year because of underride accidents and around another 5,000 get hurt when their cars go under trucks.
  • Jackknife accidents. Wikihow indicates this type of crash starts with a skid. The trailer pushes out from behind the tractor as part of the skid, spinning and hitting the tractor and causing loss of control of the vehicle.

There are things that truck drivers should be doing to prevent these three common types of serious truck crashes.  Maintaining and loading the truck properly are two of the most important steps to prevent these types of accidents. Unbalanced loads contribute to the risk of a truck rolling over, while problems with the brakes can contribute to both rollover and jackknife accidents.

Jackknife accidents and rollover accidents are both more likely to happen around curves, so drivers need to be careful when going around a turn. Centrifugal force can lead the truck to start to tip away from the curve as the truck goes around it, while trying to hit the brakes quickly on a curve can cause loss of vehicle control leading to a rollover.

Truck drivers need to operate within the speed limit, maintain and load their vehicles properly, and avoid sudden braking to try to prevent all of these dangerous types of crashes from occurring. When they don’t, victims of truck crashes can and should hold them accountable.

Getting Medical Bills Paid After a Rear-End Crash in Portland

Portland drivers have to purchase liability insurance coverage, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and underinsured motorist coverage. After any accident, PIP should pay medical bills for all drivers no matter who caused the accident. If a collision caused serious injuries, victims can make a claim against the driver who was at fault and the driver’s liability insurance should provide compensation for excess medical bills and financial loss, as well as for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. car-crash-1411857

When a Portland rear-end accident happens, usually the driver in the rear vehicle is presumed to be at fault for hitting the back of the car in front of him. The front driver is thus going to have more options for having larger losses covered, since the front driver can use PIP coverage, file a lawsuit to get compensation through liability coverage, and use uninsured or underinsured coverage if the rear driver didn’t have sufficient insurance to cover losses.

Getting Medical Bills Paid After a Rear-End Crash

Because most motorists involved in a rear-end crash are going to be making some type of insurance claim to get medical bills paid, victims of crashes need to know how to deal with insurers.  Insurance companies tend to try to underpay claims or even deny claims where they should provide payouts.

To make sure you do everything possible to get the insurer to pay bills in full, it is important to follow some basic tips:

  • Report the collision. The crash should be reported to the police so the police can document how the accident happened. The insurance companies should also be notified right away after the crash happened.
  • Immediately seek medical attention. To get medical bills covered after a rear-end accident, collision victims have to demonstrate their injuries were actually caused by the accident. A medical report from immediately after the crash which documents the injuries can be essential.
  • Ensure all injuries are documented. Let your doctor know you plan to make a car crash claim for compensation. Be sure the treating physicians carefully document the full extent of all injuries caused by the collision.
  • Keep careful records of treatment. You should keep careful records of all treatment you undergo so you can show how bad the injuries were and how costly your care is.
  • Get experts to help estimate ongoing costs. If you settle your claim or if you go to court and make a car accident claim, you may still have injuries that you are being treated for at the time your case is resolved. You’ll want a medical expert to help you estimate what ongoing expenditures you’ll incur so you can try to get compensation for those so the insurer covers your costs.

It is also a good idea to consider getting legal hep so an experienced attorney can deal with the insurer on your behalf and help you to fight to get your bills covered.

Portland T-Bone Crashes Endanger Children

As a parent, you want to do everything possible to protect your children from injury. One of the most important things you can do is try to ensure your child does not become involved in a side-impact or T-bone accident. seatbelt-602535-m

Unfortunately, sometimes you can obey all traffic rules and find the side of car your car struck by another driver. This side impact or T-bone crash is the most dangerous type of car accident for a child and parents need to know their rights if a child sustains harm.

Side Impact Crash Risks for Children

Buckling up your children save lives, as does the use of car seats or other appropriate child safety seats. Unfortunately, until 2014, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had not proposed a rule to establish crash testing protocol to determine how child safety seats performed in T-bone crashes.

In 2014, NHTSA proposed a crash test process which involved testing how well car seats protected kids from side-impact accidents. The test aimed to determine the effectiveness of child safety seats in keeping both a one-year-old and a three-year-old child from serious injury in a side-impact accident.

A special sled would be used to simulate the effect of a car traveling at 15 miles per hour being hit by a vehicle traveling at 30 MPH. The NHTSA proposed to establish a three-year time frame for car seat manufacturers to make changes in response to testing.

The three-year time frame and general delay in crash tests focused on child restraints in side impact crashes could help to explain why car seats and seat belts are not as effective at protecting kids from side impact accidents as they are in keeping kids safe when other crash types occur.

A study in Association for Advancement of Automotive Medicine found children wearing seat belts suffered greater injuries in side impact crashes as compared with children wearing seat belts in frontal collisions.

Injuries were measured on the Modified Adjusted Injury Scale, which has numbers ranging one to nine, with nine representing more serious injury and one representing less serious injuries. Among children with a MAIS score of three or higher, only 17 percent had seat belts on in front impact crashes. In side impact crashes, 30 percent of children with a MAIS score above three had seat belts on.

Seat belts or child restraints should be improved to focus on protecting the child’s head and abdomen and preventing the child from making head-contact with intruding vehicles striking the car in a side-impact crash.

Children, in general, have higher MAIS scores in side-impact accidents. Kids between ages one and five had an MAIS score of at least two in 41 percent of side impact crashes, compared with 15 percent of kids with an MAIS score of 2+ in head-on front impact collisions, and three percent in rear-end crashes.

If seat belts and child restraint systems are changed to better keep kids safe from side impact accidents, hopefully injury and death rates will fall. However, it is ultimately up to every driver not to make unsafe choices and cause side-impact collisions so they can help to keep kids safe.

Causes of Portland Wrong-Way Accidents

There were 240 head-on collisions in Oregon in 2011, according to Traffic Crash Facts. A total of 30 were fatal accidents and 171 caused injuries to occur. Many of these crashes occurred when drivers went into opposing traffic or drove on the wrong side of the road. Do not enter sign

Head-on car crashes caused by drivers who go the wrong way on the road are very serious and often fatal because there is more momentum and more force for the body to absorb when two vehicles strike each other directly. Understanding causes of wrong-way crashes can help Portland motorists to avoid these accident types and be safer on the roads.

Causes of Portland Wrong-Way Accidents

There are many different circumstances in which drivers go the wrong way on the roads. Traffic crash facts for Oregon in 2011 show:

  • 182 crashes were caused by drivers who passed on the wrong side.
  • 123 crashes were caused by drivers who turned into the wrong lane.
  • 154 crashes were caused by drivers who were traveling on the wrong side of the road.
  • 39 crashes were caused by drivers who traveled the wrong way on a one-way road.

There are many reasons why drivers pass improperly, veer onto the wrong side of the road, turn in the wrong lane, or travel the wrong way on one-way roads.  Some of the most common causes for these dangerous driving behaviors include:

  • The use of alcohol, which National Transportation Safety Board indicates was a contributing factor in 60 percent of situations where drivers traveled onto the wrong side of the highway.
  • Old age, which NTSB indicates is a significant risk factor once a motorist reaches age 70. For each decade older a driver gets, his risk of going the wrong way declines- until the driver reaches age 70. From 70 to 79, a driver’s risk of going the wrong way is 2.5 times greater than the risk of drivers age 60-69. After age 80, there is a 30 times greater risk a driver will go the wrong way.
  • Unsafe passing, which causes almost five percent of wrong-way accidents according to Safety Transportation.

When the causes of wrong-way accidents are identified, steps can be taken to try to mitigate risks for motorists. NBC News provides some tips on methods in which wrong-way crash risks can be reduced. These include:

  • The use of red reflectors.
  • Improving the quality of pavement markings so it is easier for motorists to see exactly where they should be getting onto highways.
  • A lowering of signs reading “Do Not Enter” or “Wrong Way.” Putting these signs lower down means they will be more in the path of car headlights and will thus be easier to see.  Drunk drivers also frequently drive with their heads bent at a downward angle according to experts, which means a driver who is drunk could more easily see a lower “Wrong Way” sign than a sign that is higher up.

By considering these simple tips based on the common causes of wrong-way accidents, lives could be saved. Ultimately, however, drivers need to make sure they are not taking unnecessary risk which increase the chances of a collision.