As a passenger in an auto accident in Oregon, you have certain rights. You are entitled to fair compensation for any damages you suffered, and you may have legal claims beyond that. Damages refer to any money you spent or lost as a direct result of the accident. Damages can include your medical bills, your lost wages, or even your emotional pain and suffering.
The key is determining who is at fault for the accident. It could be the driver of the vehicle you were in, the driver of another vehicle, or even both. If you have been a passenger in an auto accident in Oregon, call Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law today. We can help defend your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
Liability of Different Parties
Determining who is at fault in auto accidents is usually complex. In Oregon, the driver who is found to be at fault is generally responsible for the damages. However, there are common cases where both drivers could be partially at fault. For instance, if your driver was speeding and the other driver ran a red light, both might share the responsibility for your damages.
If the driver of the car you were in is at fault, you can file a claim against their insurance. If the other driver is at fault, you’ll file a claim against their insurance. In cases where both are at fault, you might file claims against both insurance policies. It will depend on how the liability is divided between the two drivers.
Steps to Protect Your Rights
After an auto accident, it’s important to take certain steps to protect your rights. First, always seek medical attention, even if you don’t think you’re seriously hurt. Some injuries aren’t noticeable until after the adrenaline stops, and brain or spinal injuries may not develop symptoms for days.
Next, document everything at the scene. Take pictures of the road, your injuries, and any damage to the vehicles. Get the contact information of all parties involved, as well as any witnesses. Don’t forget to file a police report and officially document your claim. A medical examination and a police report are two of the most valuable pieces of evidence available in an auto accident case.
Avoid discussing fault at the scene or making any statements that could be interpreted as an admission of fault. Sometimes, people make unintentional statements after an accident because they are nervous or embarrassed. Innocent statements such as, “The accident was probably my fault. I was distracting the driver by talking,” can be used against you later when one party wants to shift the blame.
Seeking Compensation for Your Injuries
To seek compensation for your damages, you’ll usually go through an insurance claim process. In Oregon, drivers are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) as part of their auto insurance. PIP coverage can pay for your medical expenses regardless of who was driving or who was at fault.
If your damages exceed what the PIP insurance will cover, or if you have other damages like lost wages, you might need to file a liability claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance.
The Role of Insurance Coverage
Understanding insurance coverage is important before an auto accident occurs, but it’s absolutely vital to understand your policy afterward. PIP coverage can provide immediate financial relief for medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault. If the at-fault person is uninsured or underinsured for the damage they caused, you may need to rely on the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of the vehicle you were in.
In Oregon, all drivers are required to have this coverage. This means every driver must have at least $25,000 in insurance for accidents involving drivers who don’t have their own insurance. So, if you’re in an accident as a passenger and the other driver is uninsured, the insurance of the vehicle you were in will help cover the costs.
Challenges in Pursuing Claims
Pursuing any personal injury claim can be challenging. Insurance companies might try to minimize payments or deny claims. They may argue about who’s at fault or attempt to argue the full extent of your injuries. This is where evidence and documentation can help prove your side. Legal representation, provided by one of our experienced auto accident attorneys, can mean the difference between a fair investigation and one where the insurance companies decide all the facts.
If you’re dealing with multiple insurance companies (like in cases where both drivers are at fault), the situation can get even more complicated. Oregon operates under a modified comparative negligence rule where each driver is held accountable for how much they contributed to the accident. If one party is found to be 50% responsible, that person can’t receive a settlement from the other parties to cover their damages.
Because the percentage of fault is so important, insurance investigations are lengthy, thorough, and sometimes biased.
Passenger Rights in an Auto Accident in Oregon
As a passenger in an auto accident in Oregon, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. Understanding liability, insurance coverage, and the steps to protect your interests is important when seeking the justice you deserve.
Be prepared for challenges in pursuing claims and stay informed about all the legal developments. Remember, seeking legal assistance from an experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyer can make a huge difference in your case. We can present your evidence effectively, argue with insurance companies on your behalf, and even help you escalate your case to a civil court if needed. If you have questions, we’ll have the answers you need to protect your rights.
Call Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law Today
At Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law, we’re committed to helping people injured in accidents. If you’ve been in a car crash, had a slip and fall, been injured as a pedestrian, or suffered an injury at work, we’re here to stand up for you.
If you need a personal injury lawyer in Portland, Oregon, or Woodburn, Oregon, don’t hesitate to call us at (503) 287-5000. We’ll ensure you get the compensation you deserve.