None of us like to accept the fact that during our lifetimes, we are far more likely than not to be involved in an automobile accident, but a Portland civil litigation lawyer maintains not every accident will or should end up in court. When a road user is injured through another’s negligence, however, car accident litigation may become inevitable.
A general rule of thumb is that the greater the damage and/or injury that has occurred in a road accident, the more likely a lawsuit will ultimately result. The most common types of Oregon car accidents which lead to a requirement for a Portland civil litigation lawyer include those which involve:
- Driver error – This is a wide-ranging category and includes drivers committing such mistakes as driving too fast, following too closely, passing when it is not safe to do so, failing to yield the right of way and disregarding traffic control signs and devices.
- Driver distractions – More and more accidents are caused by drivers whose attention has been diverted from the job at hand; getting from Point A to Point B safely. Using a cell phone (particularly to send and receive texts), putting on makeup, looking at children in the back seat or observing something on the side of the road frequently lead to accidents that end up in civil litigation.
- DUII – It’s stupid, selfish and against the law, and anyone who injures someone else because they thought it was all right to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks or using an intoxicating substance deserves both criminal and civil prosecution.
- Bad weather – Drivers often fail to modify their driving habits when weather conditions should require driving slower and maintaining greater gaps between surrounding traffic. Unexpected hazards like black ice frequently lead to severe accidents in Oregon, and all too often, the results are traumatic or even fatal injuries.
- Poor road design and/or poor road conditions – The driver of the car doesn’t always have to be negligent for an injury-related accident to occur. When a government agency designs a road with dangerous conditions or intersections, accidents may occur. In such cases, it is imperative to retain the services of an experienced Portland civil litigation lawyer, as the rules for holding a government agency liable are exceptionally complex.
- Vehicle defects – Some cars roll over far too easily. In some cases, cars that have been serviced have had brakes replaced incorrectly. Other vehicles have defective airbag deployment systems, and given any of these scenarios, serious injuries can occur which are in reality no fault of the driver involved.
It doesn’t really matter how many vehicles were involved
While it’s true that most car accident litigation involves two-vehicle collisions, it can also be the case that a passenger in a single-vehicle crash can sue the driver, if the passenger was injured in an accident where the driver was patently negligent. For example, if the driver was drunk and crashed the vehicle, the passenger will have a right to sue, but if they knew the driver was drunk when they got into the car, the courts will certainly take this into consideration when making an award.
It’s also possible that the litigation will involve a case against the vehicle manufacturer, a mechanic or even against a company that manufactured a specific defective part or system.
In many automobile accidents, there will be strong disagreements over who was liable for the crash and to what extent. Courts frequently attribute fault in percentage portions and make any awards accordingly.
In some cases, special issues take place that make hiring a Portland civil litigation lawyer even more essential. In “special issue” cases, additional people may be liable for injuries, or other factors may have to be considered. Some of these special issue accidents include:
- Hit-and-run accidents – If a person is injured by a negligent driver and the at-fault party speeds away, it could be difficult for the victim to identify the driver who actually caused their injuries.
- Car/pedestrian accidents – Drivers often blame the pedestrian in cases where, no matter what the court decides, the pedestrian never wins. These types of accidents too frequently cause catastrophic, life-changing injuries.
- Car/motorcycle accidents – An historically bad reputation can lead a jury to blame the motorcycle driver for an accident, even when the car driver was blatantly at fault.
- Car/bicycle accidents – When a bicyclist is hit by a car, or when a driver opens a car door in front of them and catapults them to the pavement, horrific injuries can and do occur. Drivers, on the other hand, will insist that the cyclist behaved erratically, or that they were on the wrong side of the road or ignored traffic signals. In cases like this, a good Portland civil litigation lawyer will be able to explain to a jury precisely why the bicyclist deserves to be compensated for his injuries.
- Bus accidents – Suing a public, private or school bus company can be a highly complicated process, yet every year, thousands of people are injured on buses through no fault of their own.
Then there are the problems with insurance
Even though insurance is a requirement for every driver, it’s amazing the number of accidents that take place where the necessary insurance is not in place. Typically, insurance problems fall into three distinct categories, namely:
- Uninsured driver – A highly alarming number of people drive without insurance, making it difficult for a person who has been injured to recover a proper level of compensation. In some uninsured driver cases, victims will find it difficult to recover damages for pain and suffering.
- Underinsured driver – Some drivers carry insurance that is quite simply inadequate; often the level of cover is the bare minimum required by Oregon state law. Ironically, the worse a driver’s record, the more likely it is that they will carry the minimum of insurance, because the cost of insurance for drivers with bad records is prohibitively high.
- Insurance company acting in bad faith – Insurance companies typically offer settlements that are far lower than what could reasonably be deemed a fair amount. They also tend to delay making payments, or they deny liability altogether. In some cases, insurance companies will defend claims in spite of the fact that their customer was obviously at fault.
Apart from all these factors, injured parties also need to be aware of Oregon’s statutes of limitations. Failure to make a claim within the prescribed time limits can destroy an otherwise perfectly valid case. This is why it is critical to contact a highly experienced Portland civil litigation lawyer for a free consultation before filing a personal injury claim. They can explain all the potential pitfalls and guide you through the entire process, regardless of the complexities involved.