Yes, you can sue for a Portland car accident even if you are not hurt – at least under certain circumstances. The accident must have been at least partly the defendant’s fault, and you must have a viable property damage claim. Oregon car accident law will govern any claim you file.
If circumstances permit, consider filing an insurance claim instead of filing a lawsuit. After all, you can always file a lawsuit later.
You will face some limitations on how much you can sue for after a car accident that doesn’t injure you. One limitation is the fact that if you were not injured, your losses are limited to property damage. Another limitation is the amount of insurance coverage and other financial resources the other driver is likely to possess. The amount you can win is unlikely to be much more than the market value of your car at the time of the accident.
Oregon requires all drivers with cars registered in Oregon to purchase the following mandatory minimum auto insurance:
If you sustain more than $20,000 in property damage, the defendant’s insurance policy might not be enough to fully cover your claim. Additionally, some Oregon vehicles aren’t even required to carry insurance. If you are lucky, however, the defendant will have purchased more than the mandatory minimum insurance.
You might suffer expenses other than damage to your vehicle. You might incur out-of-pocket expenses, for example, such as renting a car to replace your damaged car. You might suffer lost earnings if the unavailability of transportation causes you to miss work. If you retain a lawyer, they might be able to identify other incidental losses that you suffered.
You can sue if you have a viable claim that the accident was someone else’s fault. Prepare your claim in the following manner:
If you file an effective insurance claim, the insurance company might respond with a generous settlement offer. In that case, you won’t even need to go to court. On the other hand, they might be stingy. If they are, you can file a lawsuit using the evidence you gathered for your insurance claim.
Even then, you won’t necessarily go to trial. Instead, you might gather evidence proving the other driver’s fault using the pretrial discovery process and then return to the negotiating table armed with (hopefully) persuasive new evidence.
You need to prove the following four elements to win a negligence claim for damage to your vehicle:
You must prove each one of these elements on a “more likely than not” basis.
“No injury” is the last thing many personal injury lawyers want to hear. Many lawyers will refuse to take a no-injury car accident case unless property damage is extensive. That’s okay if your loss is limited to a small amount of vehicle damage – in that case, you might not need a lawyer.
However, if your car was totaled or if it suffered extensive damage, it might be a good idea to schedule a free initial consultation with a car accident lawyer. Insurance companies know many negotiation and claim settlement tricks. It is the job of a car accident lawyer not to fall for any of them.
A final word of caution: select your lawyer with care. Researching the reputation of Portland car accident lawyers will pay off in the long run.