So you’ve been in a car accident. Here’s what Oregon drivers need to know after being involved in an auto accident. I wouldn’t wish for anyone to have a motor vehicle accident. But if so, there are a few important things you should know. First and foremost, stay calm and try not to add any more stress into this already stressful situation. No one plans on getting into a car accident and the majority of car accident victims experience shock after one occurs. This state of shock causes adrenaline to mask injuries, pains and pulled muscles. It may take a day or two, and sometimes longer, to feel the full damage that may have occurred. If you have been in a car accident, do not worry, our experienced massage and chiropractic doctors at Portland Deep Tissue Massage can help!
IMMEDIATELY: Assuming you are physically able to do so, get photographs of the accident and the damage. Get some background to establish where it happened. Move the vehicles out of the way to somewhere safe, then take more pictures of the damage to the vehicles. Exchange information with the other driver. Get the drivers license number, insurance information
REPORTING: The first thing you need to know is that you have to report an accident to the DMV within 72 hours if there is more than $1,500 in total damage. That includes you and your passengers, your car, and any other vehicle or property involved. Failure to do so is a crime! A police report does not satisfy this requirement. A link for the form is here: http://www.Oregon.gov
MEDICAL COVERAGE: Oregon is a PIP state. That means that every insured driver or passenger is covered with at least $15,000 of PIP (Personal Injury Protection) and/or up to one year of treatment (ORS 742.524). PIP is the part of your insurance that covers your medical costs. I recommend that people cover themselves with more than $15K, because that is not a lot of money for a bad injury.
It should not be hard to find a Chiropractor, Medical Doctor or car accident massage specialist who will take a PIP claim for your accident. Unless you have a deductible for it (which should be reimbursed) if the accident is not your fault, no money for medical treatment should have to come out of your pocket. Typically your insurance is billed by your physician, and then they get reimbursed by the insurance of the person at fault.
If the treatment goes on for over a year, most physicians will be able to continue treating you if you sign a lien and get a lawyer. A lien is a legal document that is signed by both the client and the lawyer that states the physician will be paid. It is also important to know that in Oregon, minimum PIP benefits include limited coverage for loss of earnings, funeral expenses, essential services, and child care.
VEHICLE DAMAGE: Often and insurance company will try to get you to go to a collision center (body shop) that they work with. Oregon law says that you can go to a collision center of your choice. If so, it would be a good idea to get more than one estimate. After repair, your car may not be worth as much as before, and you may ask to be reimbursed for that diminished value of your vehicle.
GETTING A LAWYER INVOLVED: If the accident has minor damage to vehicles and persons, it is probably not worth getting a lawyer involved. But with more major vehicle damage or doctor visits for more than a month, you should get a lawyer. This should not cost you “out of pocket” and the lawyer normally charges about a third of what they collect from the insurance company for you, but generally they collect monies that the insurance companies otherwise won’t pay you.
This article applies to people with Oregon car/drivers insurance only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any legal questions you should contact your attorney.
By Jeff Dougal