What to do if You are a Passenger in a Motorcycle Accident

Helmet and motorcycle next to broken peaces of a car on the street after car crash. OlsenDaines serving Oregon and Washington talk about what to do if you're a passenger in a motorcycle accident.

While cruising on a motorcycle is fun and exciting, it’s also more dangerous than riding in a car. In fact, motorcycles are more likely to be involved in crashes than cars, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

After a motorcycle accident, you may be curious about what to do next. OlsenDaines explains what steps to take.

Get to a Safe Place

If possible, move the bike out of the road and get yourself and the other rider to safety. Staying in the flow of traffic could cause further injury or additional crashes.

Check for Injuries

Check yourself for injuries. If you feel all right, make sure anyone else who was involved in the crash is all right and out of harm’s way as well.

Call for Help

After checking for injuries, call 9-1-1 so medical responders and law enforcement can arrive. Medical responders will evaluate you and be able to offer a thorough diagnosis. Oftentimes, adrenaline makes injured people not realize they’re actually hurt. Medical responders can also provide you with documentation that can be used as a form of evidence in the event you want to pursue legal compensation. Meanwhile, law enforcement will make a report of the crash.

Document Everything

Take photos of the crash site from varying angles. Pictures may be used as evidence. Also, get the names and contact information of everyone involved in the crash. If there were witnesses present, get their name and contact information as well.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

Once you’re physically and emotionally stable, contact a personal injury attorney. Consulting with a lawyer soon after a crash can have a profound impact on whether or not you may be eligible to pursue compensation.

Personal Injury Law

Any vehicle crash can be devastating, but motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to suffering severe injuries. If you were involved in a motorcycle crash, consult the personal injury lawyers at OlsenDaines. We’ve served clients throughout Oregon and Washington for more than 40 years. Visit our website now to learn more about our practice and to schedule an appointment.

 

Social Media and Personal Injury Claims

Social media is more and more a part of everyone’s life. And while it brings people together and keeps us all connected, social media can also have legal consequences. Stalking, cyber bullying, harassment, libel — these are just some of the legal liabilities that can arise out of social media.

Another one that may not immediately come to mind when you think of social media, is the impact it can have on your personal injury lawsuit.

If you have been injured and have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused your injuries or damage, or are thinking of filing a lawsuit, here are a few things you should consider before you Tweet, post to Facebook, or upload that YouTube video.

Social Media Posts Can Be Used Against You.

Personal injury cases often involve seeking damages (money) to recover for medical bills and limitations caused by physical injuries arising out of the incident.

However, you may be able to recover damages for the emotional damage as well. A personal injury plaintiff can recover for mental and emotional trauma and distress caused by an accident or tortious event. A plaintiff suffering emotional injury or damage can recover for things like: humiliation, depression, anxiety, fear, sleeplessness and more.

But here’s where social media can negatively impact your personal injury case. If you are making claims of emotional trauma and damage, yet you post videos and pictures of yourself having fun at a party, out drinking with the guys (or girls), gleefully dancing at your niece’s wedding, or standing in triumph at the top of Mount Kilamanjaro, these posts can be used against you at trial. They will undermine your claims of depression, sadness, fear or anxiety. No judge or jury will believe you.

Don’t Try Your Case in Social Media Posts.

On the other hand, you don’t want to post angry comments or diatribes about how rotten the defendant is and how he deserves to die/rot in hell/be taken to the cleaners. These kinds of comments will be found by the defense attorney —because part of the defense attorney’s job is to look for evidence to support his client’s side of the case, and looking on social media is a no-brainer—and they can be used against you. You may say things that you do not realize are admissions that can be used against you. Or, the defense may simply be able to twist and turn your posts into evidence that you are litigious (“sue-happy”), vindictive, or are exaggerating your claims to make a quick buck. Either way, these kinds of posts can be used to portray you in the worst possible light. And they will affect the judge’s and jury’s evaluation of you and the merits of your case. So, don’t do it.

What You Should Do.

So, what should you do then? Hire competent counsel, follow their advice, and keep your case out of the social media madness.

Personal injury cases are fraught with emotion and can be difficult to prove and to litigate. You need the advice of counsel to prevent you from unknowingly doing or saying things that may negatively impact your case and reduce the award you deserve.

We can help you protect your case and your rights.

#Don’t Wait to Speak to a Lawyer!

If you have been injured, we can help. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington.  We offer free consultations and we can help you. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

What You Should Know About First Party Benefits

No one likes to think about car accidents. Or car insurance. But while it might not be sexy, car insurance is critical. And knowing what “First Party Benefits” are and how they can protect you and your loved ones, can be immeasurably valuable.

What Are First Party Benefits?

In Oregon, all drivers are required to carry car insurance. Drivers are required to purchase minimum insurance coverage (limits) that includes: bodily injury (“BI”), property damage, personal injury protection (“PIP”), and uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist  (“UM/UIM”) coverage.

The State of Oregon requires all drivers to carry car insurance that complies with the amount mandated by the Financial Responsibility Law. That means you must purchase liability and UM/UIM coverage of at least  $25,000/$50,000.  It also means that you must purchase “no-fault” PIP insurance of at least $15,000.00.

No-fault insurance means that, regardless of who was to blame for the accident, each driver’s insurer pays their own medical expenses, lost wages and other costs.

“First Party Benefits” is another term used to describe insurance coverages that are provided to you and your family regardless of fault in an accident. These benefits are frequently referred to either as “First Party Benefits” or “no-fault” benefits. PIP is a “no-fault” or “First Party” benefit. In the event of an accident, PIP pays for your medical expenses, regardless of fault. PIP coverage will pay for all reasonably related medical treatment required, up to one year or $15,000.00—whichever comes first. You can, of course, increase the amount of your PIP coverage by paying for more than the minimum of $15,000.00.

The minimum PIP coverage not only pays for your medical bills, but it will pay for other things like loss of income, household services (to replace things you can no longer do at home), and funeral benefits as well.

It is important that you read your policy and understand what it covers.

Oregon is Not a No-Fault State.

Even though you are required to carry no-fault insurance in Oregon, Oregon is not a no-fault state. What that means is that, unlike other states that are “no-fault” states, in Oregon, you retain your right to sue the at-fault driver to recover the cost of your medical expenses, lost income, and even pain and suffering. It’s important that you understand not only your responsibilities when it comes to car insurance, but the law and your options. That’s why, if you are in a car accident, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. At OlsenDaines, we handle car accidents and personal injury claims. We offer free consultations, and we can help.

Washington allows drivers to elect not to purchase PIP coverage. However, if you do not have PIP coverage as part of your policy and if you do not have health insurance, you will need to pay for medical treatment up-front and you will probably need to find a doctor or medical provider who will allow you to make payments for your health care for the time it takes to resolve your personal injury case.

We Handle Car Accidents.

Insurance coverage that protects you and your family is important. Filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover for your losses after a car accident is never easy. We are here to help. If you are in Portland, Eugene, Coos Bay, Medford, or any other city in Oregon, we have an office near you. We also have offices in Washington, and we provide free initial case consultations. To schedule an appointment, give us a call or send us an email.

Economic Loss and Personal Injury

 

When it comes to civil liability the remedy is almost always money. Unlike criminal law, in a civil case you can’t put the defendant in jail. So, when a civil litigant is injured, money (with few exceptions) is what he or she seeks from the defendant.

Money Damages

Money damages can be recovered in both tort cases (e.g. fraud, breach of contract) and personal injury cases (negligence). In this post, we are looking only at economic loss as it relates to personal injury cases.

The purpose of money damages in a personal injury case is to make the defendant compensate the plaintiff for the injury or damages he or she has suffered. In other words, to put the plaintiff in as good a position (not better) as he would have been if the accident or injury had never occurred.

A plaintiff in a personal injury case can recover two types of money damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Non-economic damages refer to non-monetary losses. They encompass things like, injury to reputation, mental distress, fear, humiliation, loss of sleep, loss of consortium etc. In the context of a personal injury action, “pain and suffering” often refers to these non-economic damages.

Economic damages, on the other hand, refer to monetary losses. Things like lost wages, medical bills, and property damage come within this category.

Recovery for Economic Loss in a Personal Injury Action.

Unlike non-economic or pain and suffering damages, recovery for economic loss related to an accident or injury is generally easier to prove and easier to obtain. Very often a person’s economic losses can be calculated from documents, like medical bills, repair bills. Some economic damages you could recover in a personal injury case are:

  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Car repairs
  • Money to pay for household services you can no longer perform
  • Lost future wages (future income).

Certain economic damages, like lost earning capacity (wages you might have earned) can get a little complicated to establish. Some things the court will look at are: the plaintiff’s age, health, life expectancy, occupation, talents, skill, experience, and training. Past earnings are a factor in determining lost earning capacity, but the claim itself focuses on what might have been earned “but for” the accident. Remember, an experienced attorney can explain all your options to you and can help you receive all compensation you are entitled to.

Hire Personal Injury Counsel.

Economic loss is an important part of every personal injury case. We are here to help. We offer free consultations and we have offices throughout Oregon and in Washington. Contact us and set up your free consultation today!

Don’t Forget to Get a Police Report

Car accidents happen every day. But somehow, you are never expecting to be in one.

If you are involved in a car accident, it can leave you not only injured, but emotionally and mentally shattered as well. That’s why it’s important to know how to handle a car accident long before one happens.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to prepare for the unexpected.

Be Prepared.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for an accident is to have a first aid kit in your car and carry safety cones and lights in your trunk.

Another is to make sure your phone is fully charged at all times.

Being organized also helps. Keep important papers, like your insurance card, where you can easily get to them. And keep a pad and pen available that you can use to take down names of witnesses and other information in the event of an accident.  Take pictures of the other driver’s car, license plate, and any documents he or she gives you at the scene.

Get Medical Attention.

Your first point of concern after a car accident is your well-being and that of your passengers. If you or one of your passengers is injured, your immediate concern is to get medical attention. Call 911 or ask someone else to. If you are seriously injured, don’t move until the medics arrive.

Get a Police Report.

Whether the accident is major or just a fender-bender, it is important to get a police report. After an accident, call the police. When the police arrive, ask that a police report be filled out, and be sure to get the names and badge numbers of the officers who respond.

It is very important to remember to get a police report. If you need to bring a personal injury action, having the police report can be critical to your case.

Exchange Information.

Assuming you are not seriously injured, be sure to exchange information with the other driver. Get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are passengers, get their names numbers and addresses also.

A few cautions here: don’t argue with the other driver, don’t admit fault, and don’t talk too much.

Why?

Because you just might be admitting legal liability. Until an accident is fully investigated, you really don’t know whose fault it is. So stay calm and keep quiet.

Take Photos.

Again, assuming you are not injured (and assuming you moved to a safe spot), if possible, take pictures of the scene and the damage to your car. Pictures can help your insurance adjuster determine how much you should be compensated for the damage to your car and can serve as evidence if you have to bring a lawsuit.

Finally…

Consider Hiring An Attorney.

When you are injured in a car accident, find out whether you should file a lawsuit. We provide free consultations. We have offices in Tigard, Salem, Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Bend, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. We offer free consultations and we can help you. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

What Damages Cap Means For Your Lawsuit

When you are injured by the negligence of someone else, you could end up with a mountain of medical bills, significant pain, suffering, property damage, emotional distress, lost wages or more. Generally, you (the plaintiff) file a lawsuit against the party that injured you (the defendant) to make him pay —both literally and figuratively— for the damage he caused you. You are usually looking for money damages to compensate you for the harm you have suffered.

Economic and Non-economic Damages.

Money damages come in two flavors: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to money losses, like medical bills, car repair costs, lost wages, etc.

Noneconomic damages, however, refer to more intangible damages, like injury to reputation, mental distress, or humiliation. In the context of a personal injury action, “pain and suffering” generally refers to the noneconomic, mental or emotional damage you suffer as the result of an injury or accident.

Not surprisingly, the costs of a serious accident, injury, or medical malpractice case or an incident where a death ensues, can skyrocket into the millions pretty quickly.

So, can a seriously injured person recover the full amount of her or his claim?

No, not in Oregon

Caps on Damages.

Damages caps are laws that limit the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can recover. Each state has its own damages cap. To find out what the cap on non-economic damages are in the states of Oregon, consult with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys.

Damage caps are an issue of public policy.  I have personally seen how they can effect people with catastrophic and life changing injuries.

What a damages cap means to your lawsuit is that you may be limited in the amount of money you can recover for your pain and suffering or mental and emotional damages.

What do if you are facing a serious, catastrophic injury

Every case is different.  Developing a good legal strategy to deal with the caps and maximize your settlement is paramount. We offer free consultations, reasonable fees, and are committed to getting our clients the relief they need. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568 or contact us through our website.

Plaintiff’s Duty To Mitigate

Personal injury cases can get complicated pretty quick. Not only do they involve a lot of factors that can be difficult to prove —like a defendant’s duty, breach, causation and damages—but even when those hurdles have been met, a plaintiff, has obligations of his (or her) own that must be met. Even an innocent plaintiff who has been injured by someone else’s negligence must mitigate—or reduce— as much as possible, his damages.

The Duty to Mitigate.

The “duty to mitigate” (or “mitigation”) refers to the legal concept that requires a plaintiff who has been injured to reduce the damage that has been inflicted on him.

What?

Does that mean that someone who has been injured through no fault of his own has a duty to reduce the damage the other person caused him to suffer?

Yes, it does.

Every plaintiff has the obligation to take reasonable steps to avoid further loss and to minimize the consequences of the injury. In the context of a personal injury case, that means, for example, that you (as a plaintiff) have an obligation to seek medical attention, undergo surgery if recommended, or to seek other employment or re-train if necessary, or undertake any other reasonable steps necessary to mitigate as much as possible, the damage that was caused to you.

Why?

Because if you do not, the rule of mitigation of damages allows the judge or jury to reduce your right to recover that portion of your damages which the judge or jury finds you could have reasonably avoided.

How the Duty to Mitigate Works

It may be easiest to understand the way the duty to mitigate works by looking at an example. Let’s say that you are in a car accident and you break your leg. If your doctor recommends surgery as the only way to repair the break, and says you must stay off the leg for 6 months, and you refuse to have surgery and don’t stay off the leg for 6 months, you cannot later claim damages for the conditions that resulted from your refusal to have surgery and stay off the leg. If a reasonably prudent person would have followed the doctor’s advice, your damages will be reduced by the amount your failure to follow the doctor’s advice resulted in a lack of improvement in your leg, or aggravation of the break.

We Are Personal Injury Attorneys.

If you have been injured, we can help. We are personal injury attorneys with offices throughout Oregon. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene, Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.To set up an appointment, contact us here.

What is a Subrogation Action?

 

If you are in a car accident, “subrogation” is a term you need to become familiar with.

Why?

Because a subrogation action by your insurance company can impact your claim Subrogation is not a term that many people hear about. That’s because it is generally a matter that is between insurance companies.

So let’s see what it is and why it’s important.

What is Subrogation?

Subrogation is one of the ways in which car insurance companies recover money they have paid out in claims to drivers that they have insured.

Subrogation is the act of one party claiming legal rights of another that it has reimbursed for losses. Subrogation usually occurs in personal injury or casualty cases where one insurance company pays its insured damages and then brings its own claim against other parties or their insurance companies who caused or contributed to the loss, for reimbursement.

To make this clearer, let’s say you are in a car accident. Generally, you will submit a claim to your insurance company for the damages you incurred (medical bills, damage to your car) related to that accident. Your insurance company will conduct an investigation of the accident, and based on its conclusions, will reimburse you some amount for your damages. Let’s say that your insurance company determines that that accident was entirely the fault of the other driver, so it pays all of your expenses. Your insurance company will then seek reimbursement for what it paid to you from the other driver’s carrier. Your insurer is “subrogated” to the rights of your policy and can “step into your shoes,” which means that your insurance company can recover what it paid to you, its insured, from the other insurance carrier.

Why is Subrogation Important to You?

You may be wondering why subrogation is important to the consumer if it’s just a matter of reimbursement that occurs between insurance companies. There are two main reasons why understanding how subrogation works is important:

  1. If your insurance company decides to pursue subrogation to recover its costs, they are required to try to recover the costs of your deductible as part of their subrogation claim. If they recover the costs of your deductible, they are required to refund that money to you.
  2. If your insurance company is not able to recover the money it paid directly from the other company, it may have a lien on your settlement. There may be issues to attack the validity of the lien. If you find yourself in this situation, you should have legal counsel assisting you in the matter.
  3. While it is rare, a subrogation claims might possibly limit your ability to make agreements with third parties regarding liability. Your insurance policy will very likely require you to cooperate with any subrogation attempts they make. This means that you may not be allowed to sign waivers that release the other driver from responsibility.

To fully understand subrogation and how it impacts you, you should discuss it with a personal injury attorney.

Talk to an Attorney.

If you have been in an accident, consult a personal injury attorney about your rights. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

Wrongful Death Suits; Texting and Driving

 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  driving while talking or texting on the cell phone claimed the lives of 3,477 people in 2015 alone. A study conducted in 2012 found that 660,000 American drivers use their cell phones while driving. Thirty-eight of the fifty states and the District of Columbia have anti-texting laws. Many states are moving towards bringing criminal charges against drivers convicted of causing fatalities while texting and driving, including motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Texting and Wrongful Death Lawsuits.

Texting while driving is not only distracting, it’s negligent. It has been said to be the equivalent of driving while intoxicated. In some states, if texting was a contributing factor in a fatal car accident, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death action.

Many wrongful death actions arise out of car accidents. Wrongful death actions are civil law litigations that allow a decedent’s representative to get money damages (for the estate) caused by the tort committed by the defendant – in this case, texting while driving.

And when it comes to texting and driving wrongful death actions, the damages awarded can be astronomical. Consider this case:

  • A Florida jury awarded $8.8 million to the family of a woman who was killed by a young male driver who was speeding and texting his girlfriend.

Even where the victim does not die, but is injured, the damage awards can be significant, as in these cases:

  • A jury awarded a 15-year-old car accident victim in Georgia, $1.5 million for injuries she received when a texting driver hit her mother’s car.
  • In Florida, a woman who suffered traumatic brain injury and was left permanently disabled due to a distracted driver accident, was awarded $4.3 million.

No amount of money will ever compensate these victims or their families for their loss, of course. Nevertheless, it is clear that juries do not hesitate to award hefty damages in texting and driving cases not only where death ensues but where people are injured as well.

Limitations on Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action.

A wrongful death claimant may be able to recover for  the loss of financial, household support he or she would have gotten had their loved one lived, as well as for the loss of love, companionship, moral support, affection, and consortium. However, not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These actions are governed by statute. And each state has its own wrongful death statute. The only way to be certain whether you may be entitled to recover for the wrongful death of a loved one who was killed in a car accident due to texting and driving is to consult with competent counsel.

Don’t Text and Drive.

If you or someone you love has been killed or injured by a driver where texting and driving was or may have been a contributing factor to the accident, get in touch with us. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

Wrongful Death Explained

Some of the saddest situations we encounter concern wrongful death lawsuits.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When someone dies or is killed as the result of the negligence or actions of another—  including murder —the surviving members of the victim’s family can bring a civil lawsuit for “wrongful death.” Because wrongful death is a civil tort, and not Penal Code violation, the legal standard for proving that the defendant wrongfully caused the death of the victim is far less than that required in criminal cases. As a result, it makes it easier to prove, especially where the civil case is based on the criminal case, as in a murder situation.

On the other hand, even if the surviving members of the victim’s family prove their case against the defendant, the defendant will not go to jail. Instead, he will be required to pay the family damages (i.e., money). That is not to say that the person who commits murder or commits other crimes associated with the victim’s death cannot or will not be prosecuted criminally, either before or after the civil case. The point is only that in a civil lawsuit, the remedy is money damages. In a criminal case, it is incarceration and restitution.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit can only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This type of lawsuit is the governed by statute. Each State has its own statutes governing wrongful death actions.

Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death.

Many wrongful death actions arise out of car accidents, fights, medical malpractice, job injuries, or criminal activity. Wrongful death actions allow the decedent’s representative to get money damages (for the estate) caused by the tort. In addition, decedent’s representative can recover for the pain and suffering that the victim endured before death. This is because the personal injury action survives the death of the person who suffered the injury. “Survival actions” as they are called, can be brought to get compensation for the pain and suffering the victim endured.

Personal Injury Attorneys.

If you or someone you love has been injured or died because of another’s negligence or willful misconduct, call us. We can help. We have offices in Washington and throughout Oregon. To set up your free consultation, give us a call or send us an email .