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The Washington Post

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Not My Problem, I’m Just Renting. Tenant Liability for Rental Property

What happens if you get hurt at your apartment? Is your landlord responsible for paying your medical bills?

Possibly, depending on the facts.  Let me explain more.

The Legal Theory of Premises Liability.

In Oregon, “premises liability” law is the legal theory that  holds a person who is in possession and control of land or premises, or land owner, can be liable for injuries to others in certain circumstances.  Those circumstances are very fact specific, but generally start by classifying the plaintiff’s relationship to the land owner.  Was the plaintiff on the premises because the owner was trying to sell something?  Was the plaintiff a trespasser, or a social guest?  Next the analysis looks at facts of accident with the aim of determining whether the owner did, or failed to to do, something that foreseeably created an unreasonably harm that caused injuries to the plaintiff.  How the plaintiff is classified affects how a court determines whether the action or inaction of the owner created an foreseeable and unreasonable harm.

 

Knowing what factors the court in your state will apply is why it is important for you to consult with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys. We have offices throughout Oregon and we offer free consultations. In many slip and fall cases that happen on rental property, (ignoring the visitor’s status for now and assuming our visitor did nothing wrong) either the tenant or the landlord, could be held responsible. It all depends on the facts of the particular situation.

For example, if our visitor slipped and fell on ice on the sidewalk leading up to the rental home, the landlord will probably be held liable for the visitor’s injuries. This is because landlords frequently retain control over areas like sidewalks and driveways and are responsible for maintaining these areas. On the other hand, if you agreed in your lease that you would provide snow and ice removal in the winter for the driveway and sidewalk, then you will be responsible for the visitor’s injuries.

What are the Facts of Your Case?

If you were injured or know someone who was, or if you just have questions about your potential liability as a renter, we can help. We offer free consultations and 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. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568

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.

Why You Should Know About Social Host Liability

It’s the morning after, and you’ve got…a horrible…

Lawsuit.

Social Host Laws.

Social host liability laws are laws that impose liability on social hosts for alcohol-related injuries that occur to minors, and in some states, to anyone who was allowed to drink to excess and who was injured or killed, or caused another’s injury or death. Social hosts are generally private individuals who serve alcohol in non-commercial settings.

Social host laws make a host liable for property damage related to these kinds of accidents. In most states, to be held liable, the social host must be aware that his guest was intoxicated and should not have been served more alcohol. These laws don’t just apply to alcohol – they can also include other intoxicating substances.

While many social host laws are aimed at reducing alcohol-related deaths and injuries suffered by or caused by minors, some states, like Oregon, have social host laws that apply to guests of all ages.

What Social Host Laws Mean to You.

Liability for personal injury cases generally encompasses economic and non-economic damages. 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.

While social host laws are limited to economic damages only, such money damages can still be significant. When you consider that Oregon  have social host laws that impose a duty of care of a party host to any guest, and then consider that most accidents caused by intoxicated adult guests are drunk driving incidents, the serious consequences of one’s duty becomes obvious.

Talk to a Lawyer!

It’s important that you know your legal duties as well as your rights. If you think you may be liable under the social host laws, or believe someone else is, talk to us. We are experienced attorneys with offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Albany, Eugene 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.

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.

Understanding Discovery

Have you ever wondered how attorneys come up with those surprise questions at trial that make the witness cry on the witness stand? You know, like the way they do it in movies: Mr. Attorney suddenly turns on the sweet little old lady witness who has been giving the most damming evidence against his client until now, and says in a deep, booming voice, “isn’t it true, Mrs. Witness, that you didn’t see the light at all…because you are legally blind!” and everyone gasps in surprise and the witness crumples, dissolving into tears. Or, where plaintiff is losing her case, and her attorney suddenly says, “I call my next witness, Mr. Whosit!” and the courtroom doors swing open and to everyone’s astonishment, Mr. Whosit, who everyone thought was long dead, comes swinging in and takes the witness stand. How do attorneys work all those astonishing surprises into a litigation?

Well, they don’t.

Civil Discovery.

While it makes for good television, in real life, civil cases (like personal injury, car accident cases, toxic torts, breach of contract cases etc.) have a set of legal procedures, called “discovery,” that are designed to prevent surprise at trial.

Why?

Because our legal system is designed to foster fairness in litigation and promote early settlement. The discovery procedures allow each side to find out as much as possible before trial, of the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case, and his own.

What’s the point of that?

Well, the more you know about how strong or weak your case is, and how strong or weak the other side’s case is, the more likely both sides will be willing to settle their differences instead of going to trial. Trial is time-consuming, emotionally exhausting, and costly. If both sides have a realistic view of their case and the other side’s, they can very often reach a settlement that is fair to both sides without having to resort to trying their case before a judge and jury.

Written and Oral Discovery. 

Civil discovery is a thorny, sometimes burdensome, but very important part of litigation. Briefly, discovery allows you to obtain information about the other side’s case (including who they intend to call as witnesses at trial) in both written and oral form.

Written discovery generally consists of written questions (called “interrogatories”) that the other side must answer in writing, under oath, and document demands (“requests for production of documents”). A document demand requires the opposing party to produce documents to support his or her case.

Oral discovery generally refers to depositions. Depositions, while not as formal as in-courtroom testimony, are nevertheless sworn testimony subject to punishment for perjury. Depositions allow each party to interrogate the plaintiff or defendant, witnesses, and expert witnesses, under oath, before trial. These sessions are recorded and transcribed by a court reporter and can often be videotaped as well.

We Are Here To Help You.

If you are a witness, have been sued, or are thinking of bringing a lawsuit, you will be required to participate in discovery. We can help you through it. 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. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.