Being in a car accident can be a confusing and frustrating process. This confusion and frustration increases exponentially if you are blamed for an accident that you know wasn’t your fault.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your case and explain how they can help in this type of situation.
Oregon is an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents. This means the party who is found at fault for an accident is responsible for paying for the damages they cause. Before the victim can recover any compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, they must be able to show the other driver was at fault for the accident.
Fault applies to all types of motor vehicle accidents, including:
These accidents are often resolved by making an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s liability policy.
Oregon requires all motorists to maintain liability insurance to pay for damages they cause through their own negligence.
The state-mandated minimum liability insurance requirements are:
If you are blamed for an accident, the alleged victim can file a claim with your liability insurance coverage. Your insurance company would then investigate and potentially negotiate a settlement with the accident victim. While you can purchase additional liability insurance, many drivers only have this amount so they can save money.
If the alleged accident victim’s damages exceed the amount of insurance you have, they could sue you for the remainder. For example, if you only had the state-mandated minimum insurance and the other driver suffered $100,000 in damages, they could sue you for the difference. Alternatively, your insurance company may decide not to settle the claim, and the other driver could pursue you personally for damages.
This could expose you to substantial financial risk. If the injured driver got a judgment against you, they could potentially take money from your bank accounts, be able to get a lien against your house, or garnish your wages.
Being blamed for an accident can also prevent you from recovering fair compensation for your own accident-related losses. In many car accident cases, the accident may be due to the negligence of more than one party. For example, one driver may have been speeding while another was distracted. In these cases, the fault of each party is compared.
The accident victim can still seek compensation for their damages under Oregon’s modified comparative negligence rule as long as they were not more than 50% at fault. However, their compensation is reduced by their own degree of fault.
Let’s say you traveled straight but drove five mph over the speed limit. A car turned left in front of you, and you hit them. Because the other driver is supposed to yield to oncoming traffic, they are found 80% at fault for the accident, and you are found to be 20% at fault for it. You suffer $100,000 in damages, but because you are found 20% at fault for the crash, your damages are reduced by 20% or $20,000.
So, even if you are only partially blamed for the accident, this can significantly impact your ability to recover fair compensation. Insurance companies may try to get you to admit fault for the accident or blame you so that you are found more at fault than their insured. This can prevent them from having to pay on your claim. If a full denial isn’t possible, they may still try to blame you for part of the accident, so the amount they pay you is less.
Insurance companies often try to blame the victim for an accident because this minimizes their financial liability. They are powerful companies that make millions of dollars every year by receiving more in premiums than they pay out in claims. They may try to get a recorded statement in which you admit fault to minimize the value of your claim. Most car accident victims are unaware of insurance companies’ tactics, which is why working with an attorney after an accident is vital.
A personal injury lawyer can help if you’re being blamed for an accident, in the following ways:
Personal injury lawyers know that the drivers may have different accounts of the accident.
Personal injury lawyers can investigate the accident and obtain more objective evidence of fault, such as:
Because the insurance company has its own team, it’s important you level the playing field by hiring a lawyer who can conduct an independent investigation.
Personal injury lawyers can handle communications on your behalf with insurance companies and other parties. This can help ensure that you do not say anything that could jeopardize your claim.
Personal injury lawyers can also protect accident victims from false allegations of comparative fault. An attorney can investigate your claim, gather evidence, and work to clear up misunderstandings. They can work to correct misinformation on accident reports and protect you from insurance company tactics that try to minimize the value of your claim.
Suppose the insurance company does not settle your claim, or you want to pursue a resolution in court. In that case, a personal injury lawyer can fight for you to recover fair compensation by filing a complaint.
Litigation can allow a personal injury lawyer to obtain additional information through the discovery process, such as:
An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to best leverage this evidence and represent you in court.
If you are being blamed for an accident that you know was caused by someone else’s negligence, you must seek help from a personal injury lawyer. An attorney from Tillmann Law Personal Injury Lawyers can explain how the determination of fault can affect your accident. We offer a free case review to discuss your case at no obligation. Contact us today at (503) 272-8986 to learn more.