Personal Injury FAQs
The Salem, Oregon attorneys at Vick & Glantz provide the following questions and answers concerning the law regarding automobile accidents and other forms of negligence and personal injury. If you have other questions, contact our office to speak with an attorney or to request a complimentary copy of our Oregon Accident Guide. We practice throughout the Willamette Valley and statewide and would be happy to answer your questions in a free initial consultation.
Q. What should I do if I have been in an accident?
A. The most important thing is to make sure that everyone involved in the accident is receiving prompt medical attention as needed. This may include calling 911 or administering any First Aid you are capable of providing. The police should be contacted in any accident involving personal injury or significant property damage.
In addition to attending to immediate medical needs and calling the police, there are several things you should do at the scene of the accident to protect your legal rights and interests. Obtain/exchange information with the other driver, including name and insurance information. Also try to obtain contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident or who can testify as to the condition of the parties, their vehicles, etc. Another thing you can do is take pictures of both vehicles, inside and out, from a variety of angles. Also take pictures of the scene, such as skid marks, debris on the roadway, or other property damage. It is also advisable to take pictures of your injuries if feasible.
The final thing you should do is contact an attorney as soon possible. Your lawyer may want to dispatch an investigator to the scene before important evidence is lost or destroyed. Do not have your vehicle repaired until you have spoken to an attorney. It is also important that you do not provide a written statement to or sign any documents from an insurance company before you have met with an attorney.
Q. What happens if I am struck by an uninsured driver?
A. If you yourself are insured, which hopefully you are since you are required to be by law, then your policy includes Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage of at least $25,000 for your personal injuries, or $50,000 for all injuries in the event there were others in the car injured as well. If you are injured by an uninsured driver, your insurance company will compensate you for your damages up to your UM policy limits. Also, if the other driver has some insurance, but it is inadequate to compensate you, your UIM coverage will make up the difference to the extent the amount of your coverage is greater than the other party's. Given this system and the number of uninsured drivers on the road, it is wise to carry as much UM/UIM coverage as you can reasonably afford.
Q. Does it matter if I may be partially to blame for causing the accident?
A. Yes, in some respects. Under Oregon's comparative fault law, if you are more to blame for causing the accident than the other driver (more than 50%), then you will not be allowed to recover in court against the other negligent driver. However, if your liability is not more than the other driver (50% or less), then you may still obtain a recovery, although the amount of the award will be reduced by a percentage equal to the percentage of fault attributable to you.