Motor Vehicle Accidents
I am Sara L. Gabin, a motor vehicle accident attorney who has been representing residents of Portland and nearby communities since 1981. If you have been injured in an automobile accident that was not your fault, you are probably entitled to a recovery for your losses.Making the At-Fault Driver Responsible.
Every injury accident is unique. You must show that the negligent driver injured you because he failed to follow the rules of the road. One example would be driving too fast for existing conditions. Another example would be failing to maintain a proper look-out. After gathering all of the details about the cause of the accident, your injuries, and your financial losses, I will explain your options and work with you to devise the best strategy to bring about the best outcome. Injury claims can be resolved through settlement and lawsuit.
To avoid insurance company pressure to resolve your claim before you are healed, it is important to get legal advice from a lawyer who is concerned only with what is best for you. Most claims require many months, and sometimes a year or more, before it is possible to know how much an injured person has lost. To develop your case fully, it will be necessary for me to confer with your doctor, and occasionally with other professionals.What You Need to Focus On
Your first priority, after you regain your bearings, is to file any necessary accident reports, notify your personal automobile insurance carrier and notify the insurance carrier for the at-fault driver.
As soon as you are able, take as many photographs as possible of the damaged vehicles, your injuries and the scene of the accident. It may be helpful to contact an experienced lawyer right away to help assess whether an investigator or accident reconstructionist needs to be called in before the scene of the accident or critical evidence changes or disappears.
Next, you should get as much medical attention as necessary and comply 100 percent with all treatment advised. Failing to get medical attention or follow-up on treatment will affect your credibility later on when proving that you have been injured.
Finally, you should return to work and your other life activities as soon as possible, as your doctor allows.Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – Help While you Heal
PIP benefits are valuable benefits through your own auto-insurance policy while you heal. These benefits may be available if were a pedestrian or cyclist when a negligent motor-vehicle driver injured you. PIP benefits cover medical expenses and lost wages.
You are eligible for medical benefits up to a maximum of $15,000, and within one year from the accident. Medical services must be reasonable and necessary.
If the accident has left you unable to work, you are eligible for wage loss benefits up to a monthly maximum of $3,000, and for a maximum period of one year.
Often, your own insurance carrier can become an adverse party and decide it does not want to pay PIP benefits. Your carrier must pay benefits within 60-days from the date it receives notice of a claim for benefits. An example of a claim for benefits is a medical bill from a medical provider. If your carrier denies a claim or if, after 60-days does not pay claim, contact an experienced lawyer for advice on how to proceed against your carrier. If after an arbitration your carrier is found to have denied benefits unreasonably, you may be entitled to an award of attorney fees to pay your lawyer for having gone against the carrier.
If you receive PIP benefits, your carrier will be entitled to reimbursement against the at-fault driver. Your carrier must elect between two different ways to be reimbursed. One way is through inter-company arbitration between your carrier and the at-fault driver’s carrier. The other way is through asserting a lien against your recovery. If the PIP carrier has made no election, you or a lawyer you hire must send a written request for an election. The PIP carrier must follow strict rules on electing its recovery method. If it “botches” a lien election, you may be able to avoid reimbursing PIP out of your recovery. It is important to get competent legal advice on whether the PIP carrier has been properly notified to make a recovery election, and, if it has elected to proceed by lien, whether it has filed the lien according to Oregon statutory requirements.Uninsured/underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage – When the at-fault Driver has Insufficient Insurance
If your damages, both economic and pain and suffering, exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits, you may have a UIM claim against your own insurance carrier. UIM claims are based on the contractual obligation between you and your auto carrier. UIM benefits are available if your UIM coverage exceeds the at-fault driver’s policy limits.
In order to be able to bring a UIM claim, you may not settle against the at-fault driver before your insurance carrier approves the settlement. So, if you think you have a UIM claim, have an experienced attorney review matters to make sure you do not miss this step.
UIM claims that cannot be resolved through negotiations go to arbitration where attorney fees may be awarded if your win.Critical Time Limits
The time limit to file starts to run from the moment you were hurt. Time limits are strict. Some cases require special notices to the at-fault party and the time limit for sending these notices is also slipping away.
Typically, a lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date you have learned you have been hurt. Occasionally a time limit to file a lawsuit may be longer.
Some cases involve very short time limits to file a notice of claim or a lawsuit, as short as 60 days or 180 days. Therefore, it is critical that you call a lawyer to find out what time limits apply to your case.Fees
Attorney fees in motor vehicle injury claims are contingent. That means you do not owe a fee unless you receive a recovery.
Typically, fees are 33 1/3 percent of your recovery if your claim is resolved more than two weeks before trial, and 40 percent of your recovery if your claim is resolved within two weeks of trial or at trial.Costs
In nearly all cases, I will incur out-of-pocket costs. These are not attorney fees, but are fees for such things as medical record duplicating charges, attorney/doctor conferences, treating doctor medical reports, safety expert fees, expert witness fees, court filing fees, mediation fees, and arbitration and trial fees.
I incur these expenses only when necessary to prepare properly. I am bound to follow Oregon State Bar ethical rules that require the client to assume responsibility for these costs if the client is able to pay. Therefore, I will bill for these costs but will not expect reimbursement unless you can afford to reimburse me.Discuss Your Motor Vehicle Injury Claim with a Portland Attorney.
Motor vehicle accidents cause immediate short-term havoc and sometimes long-term effects. As a motor vehicle accident lawyer since 1981, I have represented injured persons in Lake Oswego and elsewhere in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Yamhill Counties. I am dedicated to helping you obtain the maximum compensation your unique situation calls for. Contact Sara L. Gabin at (503) 620-3171 or online to discuss your case. Free Consultation.