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.