Lake Oswego, OR, Car Accident Lawyers
Our Lake Oswego, OR, car accident lawyers understand car accidents can be traumatic, even if injuries are not serious. With mounting medical expenses, car damage, and less income coming in because you cannot work, the time after an accident is stressful. You might even lose the ability to enjoy family events and activities, or you might have lost a loved one in a car accident.
Additionally, car accident claims can be complex, especially if more than one party is responsible for your injuries or the death of a loved one. Insurance company representatives will take every step to cut costs and encourage you to settle for the lowest amount possible. An experienced attorney with deep knowledge of Oregon laws can address every element of your claim to ensure you get the compensation you are due.
If your Lake Oswego car accident claim becomes a lawsuit, the level of complexity increases. Even when the car accident involves you and just one other person, there may be the defendant, his or her insurance company, the defendant's attorney, and the insurance company's attorney involved in the case.
Do not leave your future to chance. Get the best possible outcome and all the compensation you deserve. Call our Lake Oswego, OR, car accident lawyers at Strong Law at 206-741-1053 for a free case evaluation.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Lake Oswego, OR
Sometimes after a car accident, your injuries prevent you from doing anything. However, if you can move around without causing further injury, you should take several steps while you are still on the scene:
- Take photos of the accident scene. Be sure to get pictures from all angles and be sure the images are clear. Also, get photos of any damage to the road and nearby property.
- Obtain contact information from others involved in the accident, including passengers. Obtain the driver’s insurance and registration information.
- Obtain a good contact number and/or email for any witnesses. You can also ask witnesses what they saw. Be sure to take notes. Their initial observations could be helpful to your case.
- Let the emergency medical technicians check you over, even if you think your injuries are minor.
Once the police release you from the accident scene, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, you should get them examined. Some injuries do not manifest for hours or even days after the accident. Also, there is a document you must file with the state. In Oregon, you must file a Traffic Accident and Insurance Report within 72 hours of most types of car accidents.
Do not wait to contact our Lake Oswego, OR, car accident attorneys at Strong Law for a free case evaluation. We will explain what you should and, more importantly, what you should not say to insurance company representatives. Once you set up your appointment, you can also contact the insurance company to notify it that you were in an accident. Only give the insurance company your name, the other driver’s policy number, the date and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information.
After the accident, if you are able, you should retrieve a copy of the police report and any medical records. If you can bring them to the free case evaluation with our Lake Oswego car accident attorneys, we can better evaluate your case.
After the case evaluation, we will help you obtain ongoing medical records, speak to witnesses, and investigate your case so that we can represent you to the best of our abilities, whether you decide to attempt settlement negotiations or litigate your case.
Recoverable Damages After a Lake Oswego, OR, Car Accident
Our car accident lawyers in Clackamas County can help you recover damages after a car wreck. We will negotiate skillfully on your behalf to get you all the compensation due for your injuries and losses. If the settlement amount is not appropriate, we can take your case to trial. In a car accident case, the court orders compensatory damages – economic and non-economic damages – to make you whole again. The court orders punitive damages to punish the defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional actions or inactions.
Special damages, sometimes called economic damages, have a monetary value and include:
- Past medical expenses for those incurred in the accident and before a settlement or a trial award.
- Future medical expenses for those incurred in the accident and after a settlement or a trial award. Past and future medical expenses also include costs for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive and other psychological therapies.
- Past lost wages for those you lost from the accident until you settle or receive a trial award.
- Future lost wages for those you lost because of accident injuries or disabilities that continue after a settlement or a trial award.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property, including personal property inside your vehicle that suffered damage, such as computers and clothing.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses.
General damages, sometimes referred to as non-economic damages, do not have a monetary value and include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if your injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities that require medications, ambulatory aids, or other medical changes for the rest of your life.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy family time, including family events and activities.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of use of a body part such as a hand or a leg.
- Loss of use of a bodily function such as your bladder, bowels, or eyesight.
- Amputation of a limb or digit.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do grocery shopping, home maintenance and repair, lawn maintenance, and house cleaning.
Punitive Damages in a Lake Oswego, OR, Car Accident Case
To collect punitive damages in Oregon, a punishment for the defendant, you must show that the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional (Or. Rev. Stat. § 31.730). While asking for punitive damages increases the time you need to wait to obtain compensation after a car accident, sometimes it is worth the wait. This is especially if your doctors expect your injuries to cause long-term or permanent disabilities. While the court does not order this compensation to cover specific costs, nothing states that you cannot use it for medical and other expenses related to the accident, including lost wages.
If you believe you should recover punitive damages, you should retain a car accident attorney in Lake Oswego. Proving gross negligence or intent is complicated and requires detailed knowledge of Oregon laws. Our team in Clackamas County can skillfully argue why your case merits punitive damages and will ensure that you receive full compensation for all damages related to your car accident.
Recovering Future Damages Related to Your Car Accident
In some cases, people try to represent themselves in settlement negotiations. Once the insurance company gets you to settle, you can no longer go after the insurance company for additional medical expenses. In some cases, it might take two or more surgeries to repair injuries from a car accident. If you sign a settlement with the insurance company, you might need more money to cover the additional surgeries. This is why it is important to work with our car accident lawyers in Lake Oswego, OR, to help you with your case.
Our car accident attorneys have years of experience reviewing medical documents and helping people with similar injuries. We work with medical professionals to understand whether you might require additional medical care and what the associated costs may be. We also work with medical professionals to help determine whether you will require physical therapy, occupational therapy, or even cognitive and other psychological therapies because of car accident injuries.
If you are receiving therapy now, your therapist can give us a good idea of how long you will require these therapies, which helps us determine a fair and reasonable settlement amount. Additionally, if the type of injuries you suffered in the car wreck typically require physical and/or occupational therapy, we can also have medical professionals testify as to the average length of time people with the same types of injuries need to recover.
Determining future medical expenses is difficult, at best. If you try to settle a case on your own, you have a high risk of not getting the compensation you deserve, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact our experienced car accident attorneys in Lake Oswego for help to be sure you get all the compensation you deserve. Call our team at Strong Law today at 206-741-1053.
Proving Negligence in Your Lake Oswego Car Accident Case
When someone is not careful enough and causes a car accident, his or her actions or inactions could be deemed negligent. A negligent person that causes accidents has a legal duty to pay for the injured person’s damages. An example of negligence might include running a stop sign and causing an accident.
Gross negligence is when a person has a reckless disregard for the safety of others. Examples might include driving under the influence or speeding through a street with lots of pedestrians or bicyclists. Even driving while distracted, such as texting while driving, could be considered gross negligence.
Our car accident lawyers in Lake Oswego, OR, understand how to prove that another’s actions or inactions were negligent. Negligence has four elements:
- The defendant had a legal duty to others.
- The defendant breached his or her legal duty to others.
- The plaintiff – you – suffered an injury as a result of the defendant’s breach.
- The defendant’s breach caused you to suffer damages.
Communicating with Insurance Companies
Many people are tempted to either settle their cases themselves or to give the insurance company a statement. However, insurance companies are in business to make money. Every claim they pay out, regardless of how small, decreases their profits.
Insurance companies have several strategies they use to try to blame you for the accident so they can deny your claim – or offer a pittance that might not cover your medical expenses, never mind the rest of the damages that you deserve. They may twist what you tell them to make it appear you were at least partially at fault for the accident.
Your best option is to talk with our Lake Oswego car accident lawyer before you speak with the insurance company. We can handle the communications on your behalf and prevent issues that arise related to any statements you could make to them.
Another advantage of working with our team is that you are more likely to get a settlement offer that is appropriate. Insurance companies know we do not shy away from litigation. If they do not give you a settlement offer that compensates you fairly for your injuries and losses, we will take the insurer to court rather than take a lowball settlement. When an insurance company has to defend a case in court, their costs increase quickly, so it is in their interest to negotiate fairly and give you the compensation you deserve in a settlement offer.
Our skilled Lake Oswego car accident lawyers will negotiate strategically on your behalf to ensure you get the best settlement possible. Give our Strong Law team a call today at (206) 741-1051 to talk about your case.
Common Questions Asked of our Lake Oswego Car Accident Attorneys
Do you have offices in other cities and states?
Yes. We have offices in Lake Oswego and Portland, OR, as well as Tacoma and Everett, WA, and Salt Lake City, UT.
How much will it cost for you to represent my interests?
At Strong Law, we never charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases. Additionally, because we have such vast resources, we usually advance all other litigation costs as well, such as filing fees, investigator fees, deposition fees, and expert witness fees.
Instead of charging money upfront, we’re satisfied with a small percentage of any final verdict or settlement. That percentage usually depends on how quickly the case settles and a few other factors.
Do I always have to go to court after a car accident?
In almost all cases, the answer to this question is no. About 97 percent of civil claims, including personal injury claims, settle out of court.
In fact, in a few cases, our Lake Oswego car accident lawyers settle claims without filing any legal paperwork. If liability and damages are clear, insurance companies usually have a legal duty to settle claims almost immediately.
Both these questions are hardly ever crystal clear. Insurance companies use any uncertainty as an excuse to drag their feet. Therefore, to put pressure on insurance company lawyers, most Clackamas County car accident lawyers file paperwork in court. Most judges schedule a few preliminary hearings. However, as mentioned, court cases rarely go to trial.
Instead, personal injury cases usually settle based on the settlement value. This figure is a bit like a new car’s sticker price. The settlement value starts with past medical bills, likely future medical bills, and other economic losses. Then, to determine noneconomic losses, most attorneys multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four. As with all price and sales negotiations, personal injury settlement negotiations usually include some give and take.
Do I have to report an accident to anyone other than the police?
Accident victims in Oregon must file reports with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 72 hours of a wreck. Keep this report as general as possible. Do not go into specifics and definitely do not blame the other driver for the wreck. These same principles apply to police reports. Answer questions as narrowly as possible and let your Lake Oswego car accident lawyer fill in the details later.
Most victims shouldn’t say much because they aren’t thinking clearly due to their injuries, especially head injuries. As a result, they could say things that hurt their legal cases later.
On a similar note, never give an oral or written statement to the other driver’s insurance company. Telephone adjusters are trained to sound affable and pleasant. They’re also trained to extract damaging information from victims that can be used against them later. Eventually, the other driver’s insurance company needs to hear your side of the story. But “eventually” is usually a long way away in these situations.
What do I do if I believe the accident is my fault?
There is a significant difference between fault and liability. Fault is like a halftime score and liability is like a final score. In athletic contests, and in personal injury cases, the final score is the only one that matters.
Fault is a preliminary, non-legal determination. Insurance or law enforcement investigators assign fault based only on the evidence immediately available at the scene. A Lake Oswego car accident lawyer applies legal doctrines and collects additional evidence to determine liability for damages.
Head-on wrecks are a good example. Investigators almost always say the wrong-way driver was at fault. Sometimes this determination holds up in court, and sometimes it doesn’t.
A legal doctrine, the last clear chance rule, often applies in these cases. If Thelma is driving the wrong way on a highway and Louise does nothing to avoid the wreck, Louise could be legally responsible for damages, even though she did nothing wrong. Electronic evidence from a car’s Event Data Recorder, such as brake application and steering angle, often conclusively proves the last clear chance doctrine.
The other driver was not cited. Can I still file a claim?
Absolutely. This issue is very common. Fundamentally, many police officers believe car crashes are civil matters. Therefore, they do not want to issue citations and get involved. That’s usually true even after a fatal crash.
Granted, if the other driver got a ticket, it is easier to prove negligence, because of the negligence per se rule. However, uncited drivers are still legally responsible for damages if they were negligent, ticket, or no ticket.
The insurance company is pressuring me to sign a medical release and provide a statement. What do I do?
Once you notify the insurance company that you have retained an attorney, they should no longer be contacting you. Continue to refer them to your car accident lawyers at Strong Law. If you have not notified the insurance company that you have an attorney, contact us for a free case evaluation. If you retain us to protect your rights, we will contact the insurance company for you.
How do I pay medical bills until I get my settlement or win a trial award?
Your vehicle insurance and your health insurance will cover most of your medical expenses. After you receive your settlement or trial award, the insurance companies might require you to reimburse them. Since Oregon requires mandatory personal injury protection, start with that; then claim them on your primary health insurance. It is best to talk to our Lake Oswego car accident lawyers about your bills so we can explain what you can expect in your specific case.
When should I make initial contact with car accident lawyers in Lake Oswego, OR?
As soon as possible after the accident. Even if you are still in the hospital, you should contact us. We can set up a video conference or do a case evaluation over the phone. In some cases, we could come to you in the hospital or wherever you are recovering.
If you lost a loved one in a car accident, contact our office as soon as possible. We understand that in the days and weeks after the death of a loved one, you have a lot on your mind and are busy with the funeral and probate court, but we can help you through the process. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get your case rolling, which also helps if we need to investigate the accident. It is possible you may have a wrongful death claim, and our attorneys will let you know if this is an option.
What do I do if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover all my damages?
This depends on the circumstances of the accident. In cases where the driver is not the only person at fault, you can also collect from other parties, such as a company owner or a truck manufacturer.
You can also collect damages from your own personal injury protection insurance. Finally, you can sue the at-fault driver directly to recover the additional compensation you deserve.
Causes of Car Accidents in Oregon
While you try to avoid car accidents, sometimes it is just not possible. Some drivers are distracted, some may have medical emergencies, and others drive aggressively and recklessly when they’re upset, or simply do not pay attention.
It is important to understand how the cause of your Lake Oswego, OR, car accident may mean you have a valid claim to receive compensation for injuries in your accident. Talk to our attorneys to find out how the causes of your accident could impact the amount of a settlement or lawsuit.
Causes of Oregon car accidents include:
- Excessive speeding. Whether a driver is just speeding because he or she is in a hurry or because they are running from the police, excessive speeding usually causes wrecks. The speeding driver does not have as much time to make decisions. Also, the states’ departments of transportation put up speed limit signs for a reason – these signs tell you the safe speed for that road when conditions are excellent.
- Reckless and aggressive driving. Reckless driving is when someone constantly changes lanes in an attempt to get out of traffic or drives in a breakdown lane. Aggressive driving is when a driver speeds excessively, tailgates, or cuts in and out of traffic leaving so little room that the driver he or she cut off has to slam on the brakes.
- Tailgating. If a driver drives too close to the vehicle in front of him, he risks crashing into that vehicle should it have to stop suddenly.
- Medical emergencies. When a person has a medical emergency, they could lose control of the vehicle, whether they are awake or passed out. If the driver inadvertently pulls on the steering wheel or presses harder on the accelerator, the actions are instant, and it is hard to get out of the way, especially in traffic.
- Driving under the influence of legal and illegal prescription drugs, alcohol, drugs, and other illicit substances. Additional criminal penalties and punitive damages could apply if a driver has a blood alcohol level of over 0.08.
- Driving while distracted. Even looking at the kids in the rear seat or glancing down at the radio to change the station is distracted driving. Any time you take your eyes off the road to look at something else, you could be ticketed for distracted driving if you cause a wreck. If a driver was found texting while driving, he or she could face additional civil penalties. Depending on the state’s laws regarding texting while driving, the driver could also face additional criminal penalties.
- Vehicle defects. Always check for recalls on your vehicle, even when it is brand new. Sometimes a recall takes several years to come out. In some cases, you will have no warning that something might fail – that is why it is always a good idea to check for recalls.
- Aftermarket part defects. Just as a vehicle might be defective from the manufacturer, aftermarket parts could be defective. The auto technician will not always see a defective part. For example, if a brake pad looks fine on the front and back, but the bond between the pad and the backing plate is defective, the auto technician will not see that since it is hidden.
- Improperly installed parts. In some cases, the part is fine, but the auto technician does not install it correctly. In that case, you could have a claim against the technician.
- Snow, rain, ice, and even the sun shining in a person’s eyes. Sometimes when people wreck because of the weather, they are doing everything correctly. However, others drive too fast for the conditions. It can be difficult to avoid a wreck caused by the weather, especially if snow or ice caused the crash. The person that slid into you – or the person that caused another person to slide into you — could be responsible for your injuries.
- Poorly maintained roads. If a poorly maintained road caused an accident, you might recover from the municipality responsible for maintaining the roads.
- Poorly maintained vehicles. The owner of the vehicle could face a goodly amount of compensation just for not keeping his or her vehicle maintained.
Our Lake Oswego, OR, car accident attorneys have experience fighting for clients whose accidents were caused by negligent actions of others, whether they were drivers, manufacturers, or trucking companies. Call us today at 206-741-1053 to find out whom we can hold responsible for your injuries.
Injuries You Could Suffer From Because of a Car Accident
Car accident injuries vary widely and depend on several factors, including the size and weight of the vehicles involved, how a vehicle hits you, and how fast the vehicle hits you. A hit at 5 miles per hour might push you a short distance, but an impact at 50 miles per hour could push you many feet. All these things affect the severity of personal injuries and damage to your vehicle that can happen in an accident.
Your injuries also depend on whether you are wearing a seatbelt, have loose items in your vehicle, and whether your vehicle flips over. Car accident injuries could include:
- Face and eye injuries
- Simple and compound fractures
- Sprains and strains
- Torn muscles, pulled muscles, and other soft tissue injuries
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Crushed bones
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
“Excellent attorneys and staff!! My attorney, Peter, and his paralegal, Katrina, went ABOVE & BEYOND to get me a settlement that was even higher than my own personal bottom line. I highly recommend Strong Law for all your personal injury claims. I would not have been able to navigate this 3-year long journey without them! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!”