Deadline to file suit may be extended when insurer makes an “advance payment.”

Occasionally, a liability insurer will make an advance payment toward a claimant’s personal injury or property damage claim before final settlement.  An example would be payment of the damages to the claimant’s car in an automobile accident case.  When the insurer makes an advance payment, it must give written notice to the claimant of the date that the statute of limitations (the legal deadline) to file suit for the injuries will expire.

If the insurer fails to send this notice 30 days after the date of the advance payment, then the statute of limitations to file suit is extended (tolled) until written notice of the statute of limitations is sent to the claimant.  ORS 12.155.

When ORS 12.155 was enacted, the Oregon legislature wanted to protect injured persons from being lulled into a false sense of security by early payments made by their insurance companies toward their personal injury or property damage claims.

ORS 12.155 may serve to extend the statute of limitations for property damage and injury cases that otherwise might have expired.  Our firm looks carefully at the facts of each case to determine if an “advance payment” was made to our client, and whether the carrier sent the written notice required by ORS 12.155

Defendants and Their Insurance Companies Must Pay Attention to Moderate Injury Claims or Pay Attorney’s Fees

If you have been injured or suffered property damage through the fault of another, but your injuries/damages are not extensive or permanent, your claim should, and can still be settled quickly and fairly.

ORS 20.080 provides that when the claim is for $10,000 or less, if the injured person sends a written demand for payment to the defendant, and also to his insurance company, if known, and the defendant or his insurance company do not make a fair offer within the 30 days, then we are entitled to recover attorney’s fees in addition to damages, as long as the verdict or arbitration award exceeds any offers made within the 30-day period.

ORS 20.080 was enacted by the Oregon legislature to force liability insurance companies to actually pay attention to moderate personal injury and property damage claims. Ignoring such a claim is a very expensive mistake for the insurer, due to the exposure for attorney fees.

Dog Owners are Strictly Liable in Part for Injuries Caused When Their Dog Bites Someone

If you have been injured by a dog bite, you can recover your economic damages without having to prove that the owner should have known the dog would bite, as long as the dog was not provoked to attack. ORS 31.360 states as follows:

“(l) For the purpose of establishing a claim for economic damages, as defined in ORS 31.710, in an action arising from an injury caused by a dog:
(a) The plaintiff need not prove that the owner of the dog could foresee that the dog would cause the injury; and
(b) The owner of the dog may not assert as a defense that the owner could not foresee that the dog would cause the injury.
(2) This section does not prevent the owner of a dog that caused an injury from asserting that the dog was provoked, or from asserting any other defense that may be available to the owner.”

“Economic Damages”, are defined in ORS 31.7l0 as objectively verifiable monetary losses, including but not limited to:

1. Reasonable charges necessarily incurred for medical, hospital, nursing and rehabilitative services and other health care services, burial and memorial expenses;
2. Loss of Income;
3. Past and future impairment of earning capacity;
4. Reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for substitute domestic services;
5. Recurring loss to an estate;
6. Damage to reputation that is economically verifiable;
7. Reasonable and necessarily incurred costs due to loss of use of property; and reasonable costs incurred for repair or for replacement of damaged property whichever is less.

In order to recover non-economic damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress, the claimant still needs to prove that the person who owned or controlled the dog had reason to know the dog would bite.

Automobile Accidents

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, we can help protect your legal rights. We do not charge for the first meeting. We will immediately contact the other driver’s insurance company so the claim representatives don’t communicate with you directly any more. If you settle your case too soon, all your rights will be lost, even if you later find out you are much more seriously injured. You may also have medical benefits available to you through your own insurance company (called Personal Injury Protection, or PIP). We can assist with processing that claim.

We will investigate the facts, contact any witnesses and obtain complete copies of the police report and any follow up. We will also contact all the hospitals and doctors you have seen, obtain complete copies of their charts and any test results to evaluate your case based on that information. When you (not the insurance company) are ready to settle your case, then we will prepare a detailed settlement demand letter with all supporting records and send it to the insurance company to begin the settlement process. Call us so we can help.

Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist

If you have been seriously injured through the fault of another driver who has no insurance or does not have enough, you may have a legal right to recover against your own insurance company. This is called uninsured, or underinsured motorist coverage. We can protect your legal rights as to any uninsured motorist claim you have with your insurer. If you settle your claim before you’ve determined the full extent of your injuries, all your legal rights against your insurance company may be lost. We have the expertise necessary to send the right notices to the insurance companies to protect your rights to a fair settlement.

Oregon law requires that your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in your automobile policy be equal to your liability insurance limits. So, if your automobile policy has a liability bodily injury limit of $100,000.00, then the insurance company must also provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in that amount. If the other driver has some insurance, but not enough, your UM/UIM insurance can be “stacked” over the at-fault driver’s policy. So, if the at-fault driver has a $25,000 policy limit and you have UM/UIM coverage of $100,000 your UM/UIM policy stacks on top of the $25,000 to give you $125,000 of available coverage for your injuries.

There are specific time periods and required notices that apply to these claims. Our firm is very familiar with them and can protect your rights. Call us so we can help. (503-472-3770).

Personal Injury

Our firm is highly experienced in handling claims for serious personal injuries caused by someone else. We can evaluate the extent of insurance coverage that may be available to satisfy your claim. We will also make arrangements with the claims representatives for the at-fault party’s insurance company to send all communication through our office. We will work with your health insurer regarding any medical benefits you may be owed arising out of the accident. If you do not have health insurance, we will contact your doctors directly and ask that they agree to be paid out of any settlement. Most doctors will agree to this.

Many times there are scientific or engineering questions that must be answered to determine the precise cause of your accident and whether the at-fault person violated any statutes or safety standards. We work closely with a number of forensic engineering firms and accident investigators to help answer a wide variety of questions, such as the slip resistance of floors, appropriate slope of sidewalks and curbs, impact speed in automobile accidents, and many other similar issues.

If you agree to settle your case too soon, all your legal rights to recover for any injuries you may have will be gone, even though you may have more serious injuries than you first thought. Our office can evaluate a fair settlement and protect your rights to recover when the time is right. Call us so we can help protect your legal rights. (503-472-3770).

Serious/Permanent Injuries

We can protect your legal rights to a fair settlement if you were hurt by the fault of another person, and your injuries are permanent. Permanent injuries often involve claims for past and future lost wages and future medical treatment or even surgery. In addition, you may have a claim for what is called “loss of future earning capacity”. “Loss of future earning capacity” means your loss of the ability to perform as well as you could before you were hurt in the broad range of occupations available in the job marketplace. For instance, a journeyman carpenter who has to have back surgery because of an accident and can’t do heavy lifting anymore, would have a claim for lost future earning capacity because he can now only do light-duty work that pays less.

Our office has the expertise to evaluate these kinds of claims and present them to the at-fault person’s insurer for a fair settlement. We do not charge for the first meeting. Call us for an appointment. (503-472-3770).

Wrongful Death

If an immediate family member has died due to the fault of someone else, there are several steps that must be taken to protect your legal rights. We can help. Our firm will handle the issues of the legal claim, so you and your loved ones can heal.

Wrongful death claims in Oregon are governed by several statutes. Those statutes have many requirements and time limitations, and our firm is familiar with them. In a wrongful death claim, the estate can recover reasonable charges necessarily incurred for doctors, hospitals, nurses and other medical services, as well as burial and funeral services for your loved one. The estate may also recover for the physical and emotional pain suffered by the deceased from the time of injury until his/her death. The estate may also recover for the dollar loss to the decedent’s estate caused by his premature death. Finally, the estate may recover compensation to the spouse, children, step-children, step-parents and parents for any pecuniary loss and loss of the society, companionship and services of the decedent, as well as any punitive damages the decedent would have been entitled to recover from the at-fault party had he/she lived.

We work with you and other family members to determine who can recover, and to evaluate a fair settlement. Call us for an appointment. There is no charge for the first meeting. (503- 472-3770).

Work Place Accidents Involving Third-Parties

If you were injured on the job due to someone’s fault who was not your employer, you may have legal rights to recover for your injuries from that at-fault person, even though you are also receiving workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. For instance, if you are in an automobile accident while on the job, you may have a legal claim against the negligent driver who hit you, in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. There are very specific timelines that apply to protecting your rights in these cases. Failure to act now may result in your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer owning all your legal claims against the at-fault party.

In “third-party liability actions”, the workers’ compensation insurer paying your benefits has a reimbursement right (called a lien) against your liability settlement for the amount of the benefits that it has, or will pay for your claim in the future. However, it is quite common for the workers’ compensation insurer to improperly inflate or exaggerate its lien and claim far more of your settlement than it has any right to. We have battled with workers’ compensation insurers on precisely this issue many times with considerable success.

Our firm has the expertise to evaluate these claims, and work with your workers’ compensation carrier and the at-fault party’s insurance company to protect your rights to a fair settlement in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits. Call us so we can assist. (503-472-3770).

Spinal Injuries

Injuries to the spine at any level can be extremely painful and serious and involve long term permanent disability and loss of function. It is extremely important these cases be evaluated thoroughly and presented to the insurers in a way that will maximize a fair recovery. This firm has handled injury claims involving spinal injuries at all levels of the back and neck, and we are very well qualified to investigate, evaluate and prosecute these claims against the responsible party.

Spinal injuries can be particularly serious, because they may involve long term or permanent nerve damage that can lead to extreme pain, loss of body functions, and in some cases permanent paralysis. Many spinal injuries may require surgery and a long period of rehabilitation after that.

Call us for an appointment There is no charge for the first meeting. (503-472-3770).