1. NEVER ADMIT FAULT AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT.
You should never admit fault at the scene of any accident. State law requires that you exchange information including your driver’s license number, current address and insurance information. Failure to do so is a crime. No further comment should be made without seeking the advice of an experience automobile accident attorney.
2. FILE AN ACCIDENT REPORT
State law requires that you file an accident report in any case involving personal injury or property damage in excess of $500. The failure to do so will result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
3. REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO YOUR INSURANCE CARRIER.
It is important to promptly notify your insurance agent of any accident. You should do so within 24 hours or as soon as reasonable possible. This will allow the insurance company to investigate the accident and preserve evidence necessary for your claim. The failure to do so could result in a denial of coverage.
4. USE YOUR INSURANCE BENEFITS
All vehicles in Oregon are required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage which can be used to pay your medical bill and wage loss arising out of an accident regardless of fault. You may also have property damage coverage, towing, car rental and other benefits that can help you get by until your case is resolved. Using your own coverage benefits will not increase your insurance premium if you were not at fault for the accident.
5. ALWAYS COOPERATE WITH YOUR OWN INSURANCE COMPANY.
You have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company. This may require you to give a statement to record your version of the accident. The refusal to cooperate can be grounds for refusing to provide coverage.
6. NEVER SIGN ANY DOCUMENTS OR SETTLE YOUR CASE WITHOUT SEEKING LEGAL ADVICE.
You should never sign a Release of All Claims or settle any portion of your claim other than property damage without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney. Insurance companies attempt to settle claims quickly for the smallest amount possible and often well before the injured person has finished treating for their injuries. By signing a Release, the injured party will waive any further compensation for these injuries. This could be a serious consequence if your condition does not improve and a surgery is required or the condition takes significantly longer to resolve than anticipated.
7. NEVER GIVE A WRITTEN OR RECORDED STATEMENT TO THE OTHER DRIVER OR THEIR INSURANCE COMPANY.
It is essential that you not provide a recorded statement to the adverse insurance carrier. Adjusters are simply not your friend and will do anything to trick you into making statements that may hurt your claim later. There is no state law that requires you to give a statement to the adverse party or their insurance carrier and it is never a good practice to do so without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.
8. PROMPTLY SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR YOUR INJURIES AND FOLLOW YOUR DOCTOR’S ADVICE.
It is important to immediately seek medical advice regarding your injuries and to follow your doctor’s recommendation on treatment. Failure to do so can have a serious impact on your claim. Silent sufferers do not receive compensation for their injuries and failure to obtain medical attention will be used by the insurance company to establish that you were not hurt.
9. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR MEDICAL BILLS AND ANY TIME OFF WORK.
It is important to maintain records of all your medical visits and the billings you receive so that you can provide them to your attorney. It is also important that you maintain a record of any time off work or other damages you may incur in the accident. An easy way to keep track of time loss is to get a calendar and circle the dates for which you work. This way you have an easy record of the time loss from the time of the accident forward. People don’t realize that it can take several years to conclude a serious accident and early record keeping can make a big difference in your claim.
10. GET THE LEGAL HELP YOU NEED.
It is also important to seek legal advice regarding your claim as soon as possible. Paul F. Sherman provides a free initial consultation and can provide you valuable advice and direction regarding your claim. This also allows sufficient time to preserve witness statements, take photographs at the scene and preserve crucial evidence which may be lost over time. Our offices handle personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. This means there is no attorney fee unless we recover money for your claim. Accident victims with lawyers generally recover 2-3 times as much as people who try to deal with the insurance company on their own, often the difference is significantly greater. An insurance company will never pay you value on a catastrophic injury case without the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney. Call now (503) 223-8441 for a free consultation.