It’s a sad fact of life that the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical costs, and if you’ve been sued for causing injury to someone else in an auto accident, they may make an Oregon bodily injury liability claim against you. In that case, if you don’t have appropriate or sufficient cover, you could find yourself financially ruined by someone else’s medical expenses, or legal fees, or both, whether or not you actually caused the accident!
How do I protect myself from claims against my assets in a car accident?
Every driver on Oregon roads is required to have what’s known as bodily injury liability cover as part of their overall insurance policy. So as well as avoiding financial ruin, state law is another reason why you need bodily liability insurance. This part of your policy covers you in the event you cause an accident that injures someone else. Critically, bodily liability insurance all covers you for your legal expenses in the event of someone taking you to court. Whether you win or lose your case, bodily liability insurance covers you for court costs that could otherwise take every penny you own and maybe the roof over your head. The coverage also applies to passengers in the other car, pedestrians, cyclists or anyone else who may be injured in an accident involving your car.
How much liability coverage do I need in Oregon?
Well, there’s a minimum level of cover and then there’s what’s appropriate. Oregon has a mandatory minimum coverage under statute ORS 806.010, of $25,000 per person for bodily liability injury, and $50,000 per crash for bodily injury to others. The reality is that you should actually take as much coverage as you can afford, because medical and legal costs can obviously exceed the above numbers without much difficulty, and the insurance company will not pay out beyond the level of your coverage, no matter what. To be safe, it would be wise to have a minimum level of cover of $100,000 per injured person and from two to three times that much in per-accident coverage.
What if I’m the one who was injured in an Oregon car crash?
If you’ve been injured in a automobile accident through someone else’s negligence, you are most likely eligible to receive compensation to cover your own medical expenses, as well as other financial losses (like loss of income due to missing work) and for pain and suffering. Finally, you could receive what are known as punitive damages if it can be shown that the person who caused your injuries is guilty of gross negligence. You will have to get the ball rolling by filing a bodily injury liability claim.
Before launching an Oregon bodily injury liability claim, carefully consider the following things:
- Should you even be filing a claim? Do your injuries really warrant the hassle of dealing with the insurance companies and possibly the courts? If the answer is “yes,” and you have received moderate to severe injuries, and specifically soft tissue injuries, then you should definitely file a claim.
- Consider hiring a personal injury attorney. Insurance companies tend to become far more reasonable once a law firm enters the frame. Be sure you find an experienced and reputable firm that won’t ask you to falsely inflate your medical bills, exposing you to greater potential debt if you lose your case.
- Only go to the doctor if you really need to do so. Choose a physician you can trust to tell you the truth, not just give you a diagnosis that will “help” your claim. Insurance companies are constantly alert to exaggerated claims, so you want to approach your case with a completely clean conscience.
- Don’t settle for less than you deserve. An insurance adjuster will try to get you to accept the lowest possible settlement. Explain the full extent of your injuries and all the expenses incurred, expected future costs and the pain and suffering you’ve endured. For maximum effect, try to stay as unemotional as possible. Stick to the facts.
- Be ready to negotiate. If you don’t feel the offer being made is fair, stick to your guns. If in doubt, check with a personal injury lawyer. If you are determined not to use an attorney, a general (very general) rule of thumb is that a reasonable settlement for an Oregon bodily injury liability claim would be double the amount of your medical fees.
Having Oregon bodily injury liability claim coverage isn’t just a good idea; it’s the law. Without it, you’re exposing yourself and your family to the very real prospect of financial ruin. If, on the other hand, you were the injured party, then you should be filing a bodily injury claim with the help of a Portland injury accident attorney. They can offer guidance in helping you determine the value of your claim, and then deal directly with the insurance companies on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve.