Car accidents are terrifying and difficult to anticipate. Holiday hustle and bustle contribute to them, as do the intoxicants that can bring holiday cheer. Auto accidents this time of year can range from a fender bender while gift shopping to a severe crash caused by ice and snow. No matter what the cause, the accident becomes even more scary when the other driver doesn’t have insurance.
Thankfully, Oregon requires all drivers to carry special auto insurance that keeps them covered in situations where the other driver is uninsured or underinsured for the damages they caused. No-fault insurance is an important component of auto insurance policies because it affects how claims are processed after an accident.
In this article, we’ll take a look at no-fault insurance and explain all its important implications for Oregon drivers. We’ll talk about exactly what it is, what it covers, and how it can help if you’ve found yourself in this frightening predicament. At Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law, we can guide you through the specifics of your auto accident case so you receive not just the compensation but also the justice you deserve.
What is No-Fault Insurance?
Normally, after a car accident, each person involved in the crash uses their own insurance coverage for the damages. This is usually regardless of who was at fault. Later on, if one person is proven to be mostly responsible, that person’s insurance will pay back yours. If medical bills or lost wages are included, the insurance company must provide all the coverage it can to meet your needs.
But when the other driver doesn’t have insurance, your damages are covered by your own no-fault insurance policy. No-fault insurance in Oregon refers to the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage that is a mandatory part of an auto insurance policy. Under this system, if you’re involved in a car accident, your own insurance policy covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs up to a certain limit, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
This approach is designed to ensure prompt payment of medical expenses and lost earnings without the need to establish fault, which can often be a time-consuming and complex process. However, PIP has limits on the amount it will pay, and it does not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering. In cases where the expenses exceed the PIP coverage or in situations involving serious injuries, you may still need to establish fault to seek additional compensation.
The Benefits of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in Oregon
- Prompt Payment of Expenses: PIP provides immediate coverage for medical expenses and lost wages, reducing the waiting time typically associated with fault-based claims.
- Coverage Regardless of Fault: PIP pays out regardless of who caused the accident, so you receive the necessary financial support without the need to blame the other driver or prove fault.
- Simplified Claims Process: The no-fault system simplifies the claims process because it eliminates the need for lengthy investigations into who was responsible for the accident.
- Broad Coverage: PIP typically covers a wide range of expenses, including medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and, in some cases, funeral expenses or costs related to childcare.
Limitations of Personal Injury Protection in Oregon
- Coverage Caps: PIP has limits on how much it will pay. Once these limits are reached, the policy will not cover additional expenses. The minimum coverage amount required by Oregon law is $15,000 per person. This coverage is available for up to two years from the date of the accident. If you’re unable to work due to injuries sustained in the accident, PIP provides coverage for lost wages, too. This coverage is usually 70% of your lost income, with a cap of $3,000 per month. It can be claimed for a maximum period of 1 year.
- Non-Economic Damages Are Not Covered: PIP does not cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, or reduced quality of life. PIP is designed to help with only the economic costs of medical bills and treatment costs. Other parts of your insurance will likely cover these noneconomic damages, but that usually involves providing that the other driver was primarily responsible.
- Potential for Additional Legal Action: In cases of serious injury or when expenses exceed PIP coverage, you may need to pursue additional compensation through legal action, which can involve proving the other party’s fault. This can be done in a normal courtroom setting about the accident or as a personal injury civil case later on.
- It’s Not a Substitute for Regular Coverage: PIP is a part of your auto insurance policy but does not replace the need for comprehensive or collision coverage. These policies cover different aspects of auto insurance and can simplify your recovery. Remember that car accidents are almost always expensive. Get as much coverage as you are able to.
How Can an Auto Accident Attorney Help with My Oregon Auto Accident Settlement?
An experienced auto accident attorney at Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law can help with your auto accident settlement in a number of different ways:
- Helping You Understand Insurance Policies: We can help interpret the complexities of insurance policies, including PIP coverage and other important coverages.
- Assessing and Calculating the Damages: Our attorneys can investigate your claim and assess the full extent of your damages. We’ll include medical expenses, lost wages, and potential future costs.
- Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Our team is experienced in dealing with insurance companies. Without an attorney present, the insurance adjusters may attempt to get you to admit fault in the accident. Remember that the insurance company is not “on your side” when it comes to proving fault. Your accident attorney will be.
- Legal Representation: If your claim goes to court, our attorneys will provide skilled legal representation and support so you get the justice you deserve.
- Protecting Your Rights: Our personal injury attorneys will protect and fight for your rights, especially in complex cases involving severe injuries and disputes over fault.
Call Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law Today
Having an experienced auto accident or personal injury attorney can greatly increase your chances of receiving a fair settlement. We can also alleviate the stress of navigating the legal aspects of your claim. Call our office today at (503) 287-5000 for a free consultation. Let us take the worry out of your auto accident settlement process so you can focus on recovery.