Archive for the ‘Accident Lawyer’ Category

Oregon Summer Travel Raises Risk Of Portland Car Accidents

Portland has become a destination for travelers from around the country – and even across the world. Visitors spend an estimated $10.8 billion annually – up 66 percent since 2003. And while this has been fantastic for our economy, it’s been taxing on our roads. The state reports that fatal crashes rose 28 percent just from 2014 to 2015, and non-fatal injury crashes have increased more than 18 percent.

Visitors are not necessarily to blame for this, but the fact is, more cars on the road means more risk of a car accident. AAA reports more than one-third of Americans are planning to take a family vacation this year, and most of those are taking place in the summer.

Summer Travel Dangers

For those preparing to head out on summer road trips, common risk factors on the road include:

  • Distracted driving.
  • Commercial trucks.
  • Fatigued driving.
  • Congested highways.
  • Speeding drivers.
  • Impaired drivers.
  • Unfamiliar roads/ conditions.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that summer has a disproportionate number of traffic fatalities as compared to other months. This is especially true for children.

For example, while the average number of traffic accident deaths in June, July and August is 3,198, the average for the rest of the year is 2,833. This number is nearly 13 percent higher.

When we look just at deaths involving children under 13 (who are more likely to be traveling or on vacation during the summer months, when school is out), the difference is even more stark. While the summer months have an average of 100 traffic deaths, the other months have an average of 71. That’s a difference of 41 percent.

Portland car accident lawyers recognize that when out-of-town visitors are involved in crashes, there are complications local claimants may not face. In general, your insurance should extend coverage to you no matter where the crash occurs. However, there are sometimes logistical challenges that can make the process more challenging. That can include everything from where you will stay the night of a crash (if your car isn’t drivable) to returning to town for depositions, independent medical exams and court hearings.

Beyond that, the auto insurance laws in your own state could differ from the provisions in Oregon, leaving you potentially unprotected – or not as protected as you may have anticipated.

Oregon Auto Insurance Laws

Oregon is a “fault” state when it comes to liability for crashes, which means the driver who caused the crash is liable (legally responsible) to cover the damages. However, Oregon is also somewhat unique in that all car insurance policies sold in the state must also include personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which covers the policyholder and other insureds regardless of who was at-fault.

PIP requirements are standard in no-fault states, but Oregon is unique as a “fault” state that requires this no-fault provision. Still, unlike many “no-fault” states, the PIP requirement doesn’t prevent injured victims from suing the at-fault driver for compensation of losses such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. There is no threshold of injury or expenses the victim must incur or suffer before filing a claim against the responsible party.

PIP covers all necessary medical, hospital, dental, ambulance or prosthetic services within one year of the date of the person’s injury – up to $15,000 total.

If you have questions about your car accident claim, our dedicated car accident attorneys in Portland can help.

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.

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.

Portland Bicycle Accident Prevention Key for Both Drivers and Riders

Although Portland has been named America’s Best Bike City in the past according to Bicycling.com, bicycle riders still face many risks on the roads because of careless drivers. In fact, a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that the number of bicycle accident deaths has increased nationwide. 

Even as more bicyclist lose their lives in collisions, some drivers are assembling a long list of grievances against bike riders. Drivers are being forced to adjust to an ever-increasing number of bike lanes and ongoing demands from bicycle riders to be given equal consideration on the road.

Unfortunately, when bicycle riders and drivers don’t share the roads in a safe manner, serious consequences result. Collisions can occur and it becomes important to determine who is to blame for causing the accident. A personal injury lawyer can provide assistance to victims of bicycle accidents.

Are Bicycle Riders Not Sharing the Road?

The Washington Post recently published a series of articles with a litany of complaints about how bicycle riders are essentially being bullies, demanding too many accommodations and not being respectful of drivers.

One issue is that parking areas are being adversely impacted by the creation of bike lanes, resulting in an insufficient number of places to park in popular areas.

Also of concern was the fact that bicycle riders are riding in the wrong direction in bike lanes, riding slowly during rush hour traffic and cutting to the front of the line when there is a line of traffic waiting at a red light. The bicyclists pedal to the front and then move along slowly while drivers are forced to wait for them after the light changes.

Bicycle riders may also be endangering pedestrians. Some are riding on sidewalks instead of staying in bicycle lanes. Bicyclists who ride at night without lights on their bike may be an especially significant hazard for pedestrians and may also increase the chances of a collision occurring with drivers.

Although some of these complaints are legitimate, bicyclists also have reason to worry that drivers are not doing a very good job sharing the road. According to a recent NHTSA report, the number of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle collisions increased six percent between 2011 and 2012. Bicycle riders made up two percent of people killed in traffic accidents and two percent of people injured in traffic collisions. A significant majority of the accidents that killed bicycle riders – 69 percent – happened in urban areas.

Both riders and drivers will continue to be at risk of dangerous collisions until they get better at sharing the road safely. Drivers need to respect that bicyclists have a right to be on the road with them and bicycle riders need to follow the rules of the road and be considerate to drivers. If everyone pays careful attention, follows safety rules and obeys all of the rules, hopefully drivers and bikers can learn to coexist and the streets can be a safer place for everyone.

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

Life After an Oregon Pedestrian Accident

In May, a pedestrian was seriously injured after being struck by a marked Portland police vehicle. The Portland Tribune reports that the pedestrian may have stepped off the curb into the path of the vehicle, and that he suffered traumatic injuries from the impact of the collision.  Medical personnel were called immediately to the scene and the pedestrian was transported to the hospital for further treatment of his injuries. 

Unfortunately, pedestrians are often seriously hurt when they are hit by a car. When the driver of the vehicle is at fault, the motorist should be held legally accountable and should compensate the victim for injuries. Pedestrian accident attorneys in Portland, OR can represent victims of collisions to obtain monetary damages.

Life After a Pedestrian Accident 

When a pedestrian accident occurs, the injuries can go beyond the physical harm that the collision causes. Recently, the New York Times published an article on what life is like after a serious pedestrian collision. The article included first-person stories from several staffers of the newspaper who had been involved in pedestrian crashes. Those whose stories were told had been obeying the rules when they were struck by a motor vehicle, and were left with lingering emotional trauma after their physical injuries had healed.

The author experienced a broken pelvis and a broken femur that necessitated surgery after he was hit by a delivery truck. He had to have a interior vena cava inserted to prevent blood clots, and he needed stitches and blood transfusions. Although he has recovered from the physical injuries, he reports that he still flashes back to the accident when he sees a delivery truck in the city. He also indicates that he is much more cautious when walking around, always checking multiple times before crossing the street and waiting until the light changes before stepping off of the curb.

Another New York Times staffer was involved in a pedestrian knockdown crash, blacking out when she was hit and coming to in the middle of the road. She said that her experience was one of the most difficult and frightening situations she had endured in her entire life.

The consequences of the accidents were far-reaching for those affected. For one contributor to the story, the crash had occurred four years ago but she still experienced fear every time she had to cross the road. In addition to checking over her shoulder multiple times as she crossed, she said that if a car got too close to her, she would panic and freeze.

These experiences are not uncommon and many crash victims experience lingering emotional harm or even suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Drivers who cause pedestrian accidents need to be held responsible, and victims need to fight to ensure the necessary resources for recovery. An experienced attorney can help those involved in pedestrian accidents to maximize their recovery and to have the best chance of getting fair compensation for non-economic losses.

Portland accident victims should contact Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys at Law, by calling 1-503-287-5000.

Marijuana DUI Injuries in Portland of Growing Concern

Governor John Kitzhaber recently told a panel of newspaper editors that he supports the legalization of marijuana in Oregon for recreational purposes. 

The state has already decriminalized possession and approved the drug for medicinal uses, and a recent statewide poll indicated that 57 percent of likely voters this year support full-scale legalization.

What our accident attorneys in Portland find concerning is that these revelations come on the heels of findings that indicate fatal crashes involving drivers who consumed pot have tripled in the last decade.

Studies examine link between marijuana use, fatal car accidents

The study, released by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, researched the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who had marijuana detected in their systems.

Researchers analyzed data from some 24,000 drivers who died within one hour of a wreck between 1999 and 2010.

What they found that was as a contributing factor, alcohol remained fairly steady throughout the decade -present in the systems of about 40 percent of deceased drivers. But drugs, however, played an increasingly significant role. In 1999, they were present in 16 percent of all drivers’ systems. By 2010, that figure had soared to 28 percent.

With regard specifically to marijuana, the drug was found in about 4 percent of deceased drivers’ systems in 1999. Fast-forward to 2010, and it was found in approximately 12 percent of deceased drivers’ blood streams.

Granted, the presence of THC in one’s system doesn’t necessarily prove intoxication because the active ingredient is known to linger in a person’s body for days or weeks after consumption. However, too often we hear about users or advocates who downplay the dangers of marijuana consumption by drivers.

The reality is that driving while stoned is extremely dangerous. Canadian researchers studying some 50,000 crashes found that those who drove within three hours of smoking marijuana were twice as likely to be involved in a crash resulting in serious injury or death as those who drove sober.

Now consider that about 4 percent of the American population (that’s 11 million people)  have conceded to driving while under the influence of a substance other than alcohol. Most usually, that other substance is marijuana.

When drivers combine the use of marijuana and alcohol, the effects are often deadly. The Columbia University researchers found that in these instances, the risk of a fatal crash increased 24-fold.

How much marijuana is needed to be considered legally impaired?

In Colorado, one of two states so far to approve the legalization of recreational marijuana use and sales, transportation officials are spending $1 million on television ads driving home the point that driving stoned is dangerous. The campaign, “Drive High, Get a DUI,” shows marijuana users spacing out while doing a variety of tasks – trying to shoot hoops, hang a flat-screen television or turn on the grill (which happens to lack a propane tank). An announcer closes with, “Grilling high is now legal. Driving to get the propane you forgot isn’t.”

Whether the humorous ads will be effective remains to be seen. We do know that historically, police have had a tougher time proving marijuana intoxication than alcohol impairment.

Oregon has one of the toughest marijuana DUI laws on the books. Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. 813.010 holds that any amount of marijuana in a driver’s blood or urine can establish that he or she was under the influence.

Strong measures like this can help to serve as a deterrent, particularly when legalization seems likely. Aggressive enforcement will be key.

Portland accident victims should contact Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys at Law, by calling 1-503-287-5000.

Portland Car Accidents Preceded By Snow, Ice

A massive, weather-related series of crashes resulted in one death and the shutdown of Interstate 5 near Portland for several hours recently, after some 28 cars and tractor-trailers collided. 

The pileup occurred around 10 a.m., with several other crashes reported around the same time elsewhere on the interstate. Fire and rescue officials reported the weather conditions changed rapidly, causing the pileup to unfold quickly. Officials say two major wrecks occurred at the same time, while several dozen other smaller accidents were also happening simultaneously.

The Portland car accident attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis recognize that these kinds of crashes are not only extremely common this time of year, but they can be incredibly difficult in terms of establishing liability. Attempting to obtain compensation can quickly turn into a battle for those who have been injured or those who have lost a loved one.

The biggest issue is attempting to determine who is at-fault. While it’s easy to blame the weather, the greater factor is that typically, drivers are traveling at rates of speed that are too fast for the conditions.

When those motorists then encounter ice-slicked roads or sudden low-visibility due to snow squalls, the results can quickly turn tragic.

Multi-Vehicle Collisions Happening Daily

USA Today recently reported that there had been at least one pileup somewhere in the country each day since Dec. 1.

In all of 2013, reporters at the newspaper counted 107 highway pileups on U.S. roads, with more than half of those triggered by bad weather, mostly snowstorms, icy roads and freezing rain. The majority of those wrecks occurred between December and February.

Drivers have to bear in mind that posted speed limits take into account the safest speed for optimal conditions. Any time inclement weather is even a possibility, drivers need to proceed with caution and reduce their speed.

The I-5 incident was rare only in that someone was killed. In most reported pileups, vehicle occupants survive. However, many sustain serious injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association has reported that the average critically injured survivor of a car accident will incur roughly $1.5 million in costs.

But whether victims are actually compensated often depends on the experience of their personal injury attorney, who must be dedicated to thoroughly investigating the negligence and liability of each vehicle involved. Insurance claims adjusters will be working diligently to prove that their own firm carries little to no liability.

Unfortunately in a fair number of these cases, determining liability could be an impossibility. For example, the largest interstate crash in Ohio history occurred last January, involving some 90 vehicles and resulting in the death of a 12-year-old girl. Investigators spent months sorting through the details of the crash. In the end, a 260-page report found it wasn’t possible to determine fault.

In these cases, individuals will likely be filing claims with their own insurance company. Here again, having an experienced attorney on your side is to your benefit.

Contact Portland car accident lawyers Zbinden & Curtis today at (503) 287-5000 or by visiting www.zbinden-curtis.com for a free case consultation.