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Personal Injury FAQ

Lyndon Ruhnke, P.C. July 5, 2024

If you've recently been involved in an accident and are considering filing a personal injury claim, you probably have many questions. Here, I’ll address some of the most common questions my clients in Portland, Oregon, have when they come to me seeking legal counsel. 

What Should I Do Immediately After an Accident? 

First and foremost, ensure your safety and the safety of others. Call 911 if necessary to report the accident and seek medical attention. Document the scene by taking photos and gathering contact information from witnesses. It’s also crucial to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Once you're in a stable condition, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. 

Is Oregon a Fault Insurance State? 

Yes, Oregon is a fault insurance state. This means that the driver who is determined to be at fault for the accident is responsible for covering the damages resulting from the collision.  

In a fault insurance system, the injured party has several options for seeking compensation. They can file a claim with their own insurance company, file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company, or file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.  

Understanding your rights and responsibilities in a fault insurance state is crucial, so consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the claims process. 

How Soon Should I Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer? 

Ideally, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Early consultation allows me to preserve crucial evidence, advise you on how to interact with insurance companies, and help you avoid making statements or decisions that may adversely affect your case. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Oregon? 

In Oregon, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is generally two years from the date of the accident. This means you have a two-year window to initiate legal proceedings against the party responsible for your injuries. Missing this deadline typically results in losing your right to seek compensation through the court. 

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the injured party is a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may be extended. Additionally, if the injury was not discovered immediately, the clock might start ticking from the date the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.  

How Is Fault Determined in a Personal Injury Case? 

Fault is determined by looking at the circumstances surrounding the accident. This includes examining police reports, witness statements, and any available surveillance footage. Oregon follows a “comparative negligence” rule, which means you can still recover damages if you are found partially at fault, although your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. 

What Types of Compensation Can I Recover? 

In a personal injury case, you may be entitled to various types of compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and property damage.  

Each case is unique, so the types and amounts of compensation will vary based on your situation and the extent of your injuries. 

How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Personal Injury Claim? 

The timeline for resolving a personal injury claim can vary significantly. Simple cases may settle in a few months, while more complicated cases involving severe injuries or liability disputes can take years to resolve. My goal is to settle your case fairly and efficiently, keeping you informed throughout the process. 

Do I Have to Go to Court for My Injury Case? 

Not necessarily. Many personal injury cases are settled out of court through negotiations with the insurance company.  

However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, we may need to file a lawsuit and go to trial to secure the compensation you deserve. I will prepare your case thoroughly and advocate fiercely on your behalf, whether in settlement talks or in court. 

What Should I Do After an Accident?

If you find yourself involved in an accident, taking the right steps immediately afterward can significantly impact your potential personal injury claim. Here’s a general guide on what you should do: 

  1. Ensure safety: First and foremost, move to a safe location to avoid further accidents. If possible, get yourself and any other parties involved out of harm’s way. 

  1. Call 911/Seek medical assistance: Report the accident to the police and request medical assistance. Even if injuries seem minor, it is crucial to have a medical professional examine you. The police will create an official accident report, which can be vital for your claim. 

  1. Document the scene: Take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, your injuries, and any relevant road conditions or signage. These images can serve as critical evidence. 

  1. Collect information: Gather contact information from all parties involved, including their names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance details. Also, collect contact information from any witnesses who saw the accident happen. 

  1. Notify your insurance company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with the information you collected, but avoid making definitive statements about fault or specifics until you've consulted with a lawyer. 

  1. Consult a personal injury attorney: Before making any agreements or statements to insurance companies, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help you navigate the legal complexities and ensure your rights are protected. 

By following these steps, you can protect yourself and strengthen your potential personal injury claim. 

What Should I Avoid Doing After an Accident?

Avoid making recorded statements to insurance adjusters before consulting with an attorney, as these can be used against you. Do not discuss your case on social media, as anything you post publicly may be scrutinized and used to undermine your claim. Lastly, avoid settling your claim too quickly before fully understanding the extent of your injuries and damages. 

Address Your Questions With a Personal Injury Attorney in Portland, Oregon

With over 20 years of experience as a personal injury attorney, I aim to simplify the legal process for my clients by explaining their rights and options in an approachable and understandable way. My goal is to provide you with peace of mind by handling your case swiftly and professionally while keeping you updated and addressing any questions you may have.  

My firm has locations in Portland, Beaverton, and Gresham, and I’m proud to work with clients throughout Portland Metropolitan Area and across Oregon. Reach out today to tackle your legal and financial challenges.