Car Accident Injuries and Passenger Rights in Oregon
What if you’re a passenger in a vehicle, and your vehicle’s driver causes an accident with another driver? Many people wonder who they can recoup damages from for injuries sustained during such an accident since you cannot legally sue the driver of the other vehicle since they were not at fault. In instances such as this, the insurance company of the vehicle you were in may cover the costs of injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.
Passengers in Oregon have the right to be compensated for injuries and damages sustained in accidents where they were not at fault. Whether the passenger was in a car, truck, boat, or motorcycle, injured passengers have the right to pursue compensation from the insurance company of the vehicle operator and/or the right to recover damages directly from the operator of the vehicle.
As a passenger, what if the driver is a friend or family member?
Often times people will avoid trying to recover compensation for damages out of some sense of loyalty to their friends or family. In reality, the fact of the matter is that the injured party is not suing the friend or family member, but the insurance company that has been paid to insure the vehicle and its occupants. People often overlook the fact that insurance has been purchased to protect the assets of their friends or family, just like people purchase home insurance to protect from events such as a home fire.
What to do if you have been injured as a passenger in a vehicle?
Obviously the most important concern if you have been injured as a passenger in another person’s vehicle is to seek medical attention to assess the severity and extent of your injuries. If another vehicle was involved in the accident, make sure that the other driver’s information is recorded, as well as their vehicle and insurance information.
Using a cell phone with a camera or video capabilities is an excellent way to document the scene of an accident; you can read an earlier article on how to document the scene of a car accident using a cell phone.
Should you let your friend pay for your injuries out of pocket?
No. Anyone who has been around for awhile has heard of stories of letting people pay for damages caused in an accident out of pocket, rather than reporting the claim to the liable persons insurance company. The idea with this line of thinking is to allow the liable party to pay out of pocket for damages, thus keeping their insurance rates low. More often than not these stories end negatively. You may have injuries that take a long time to heal or require expensive medical imaging studies to determine the cause and no one wants to pay these out of pocket. They also do not want to have to rely on a friend’s word to pay something that could run into the thousands of dollars. This is what PIP or personal injury protection benefits are for. PIP is the “no fault” medical coverage that all Oregon auto insurance policies must provide.
Oregon Law and reporting a Car Accident to DMV
In Oregon it is law that car accidents must be reported to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles if any of the following are true:
1) Damage to the vehicle you were driving is over $1,500;
2) Damage to any vehicle is over $1,500 and any vehicle is towed from the scene as a result of damages from this accident;
3) Injury or death resulted from this accident; or
4) Damages to any one person’s property other than a vehicle involved in this accident is over $1,500.
Taking a friend’s word that they will pay for your medical expenses, time lost from work and other damages is very risky. With the high costs of health care these days, lost wages stemming from the accident, time off work, and long term complications that may result from the accident, your friend may decide that they can’t pay in the future. Costs associated with even minor injuries can mount significantly over time, causing a great burden on all parties involved. Most times when you weigh the“perceived” rift of opening a claim with your friend’s insurance company versus the strain of asking them to cover your expenses over what could be months, or even years, the right decision is clear.
So, what should you do if you’ve been injured as a passenger?
If you or someone you know has been injured as a passenger in a vehicle, it is wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible, especially if the driver of the vehicle you were in was at fault. The other driver’s insurance company and/or law firm will want to document the details of the accident quickly for their client. Securing a free consultation with an experienced attorney will let you know your rights up front, as well as recommended actions that should be taken to protect your rights and ensure that your needs are taken care of.
If an insurance adjuster contacts you before you have had a chance to meet with a qualified and experienced injury attorney, postpone giving a statement regarding the accident until you have met with a Personal Injury Attorney. Insurance adjusters will try and persuade you to give a statement quickly as they are trained to ask questions and get responses that will favor the insurance company. It is advisable to never give a statement, or answer any line of questioning from an insurance company without the knowledge or presence of your attorney.
Experienced Oregon Personal Injury Attorney
The Law Offices of Matthew H. Kehoe is experienced in dealing with insurance companies when it comes to injury cases. For over 20 years, our firm has helped injury victims throughout Portland and all of Oregon. Our firm has proven that we have the experience and tenacity to aggressively pursue and obtain full compensation for injuries sustained by the fault of another.
We offer Free Consultations for injury cases, and all cases we accept are on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless you win your case.
Call our office to set-up your Free Consultation today, and put our years of experience to work for you.