At the Law Offices of Jon Friedman, our car accident lawyers in Portland, Oregon focus on minimizing the long-term impact of these serious and traumatic events by providing each of our clients with the personal attention they need to pursue a fast and fair financial recovery for their injuries.
Like everyone else in the Northwest, we are no strangers to rainy weather and can certainly blame some of our city’s car wrecks on the inclement conditions. The fact remains that most traffic collisions are caused by a combination of distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding or reckless driving, and failing to obey traffic signs and signals. Each of which is a negligent action, and all preventable causes of serious injuries and tragic deaths.
If you have been hurt in a car wreck, or have lost a loved one to another’s negligence, we are available to discuss your case during a free consultation today. We will answer any questions you have about the personal injury claim process, so you may continue to focus on your physical and emotional health while we pursue the negligent driver and their insurance coverage for your financial damages.
Car Wreck Injuries and Fatalities Can Happen Anywhere and to Anyone
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, last year there were over 50,000 vehicle collisions in the state that resulted in 27,700 non-fatal injury crashes and 500 fatal crashes.
No matter how attentive you are behind the wheel, you cannot control the behavior of the other drivers traveling alongside you. And while Oregon’s law states it is illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device, we sometimes see drivers looking down at their phones more than looking at the road in front of them.
According to the most recent statistics, over five years there were 13,603 fatal and injury crashes resulting in 137 fatalities and 20,992 injuries caused by crashes involving a distracted driver in Oregon.
If you or your loved one were hurt or killed in any traffic collision caused by a negligent driver, we can help you hold that person accountable for their negligence or recklessness behind the wheel.
That begins with having your complete car accident injuries properly diagnosed and treated by a doctor immediately after the crash. Injuries may not become visible or even painful for days following an auto accident, which is why it is important to receive a prompt diagnosis, so you are getting the care you need.
Our Experienced Portland Auto Accident Lawyers Can Maximize Results
Our attorneys will pursue all the necessary evidence to seek a fair and full recovery for each of our clients. The heart of our success lies in our auto accident experience. We have developed a pattern and practice of litigation to maximize the likelihood of you getting fast, fair and complete compensation for your injuries.
All traffic collisions can lead to financial burdens for the victims. Immediate and ongoing medical costs and the loss of income as a result of time off work, or the inability to run your business, can significantly impact your livelihood. If your injuries require extended care, the long-term costs and lack of income can quickly become overwhelming.
Car crash victims are entitled to claim damages from the person responsible for their accident when that person can be positively identified as at fault. Our attorneys have had years of experience assessing and pursuing these cases and will leave no stone unturned.
Call Our Experienced Portland Car Accident Lawyers For A Free Consultation
If you were injured in an auto accident, contact our Multnomah County personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Jon Friedman today to learn more about the financial compensation you may be entitled to by calling 503-242-1440 for a free confidential assessment of your claim.
Q & A With Jon Friedman
Christina Penza: What is the next step after establishing grounds for a case?
Jon Friedman: Once I am retained to help someone with a claim, I send letters of representation to both my client’s insurance carrier and the negligent driver’s insurance carrier stating I represent my client, and all contact with regard to this matter now comes through me.
I’m going to help ensure that my client is doing the appropriate thing, which basically means going to see their doctor and doing what the doctor tells them. Some folks are reticent to seek the medical care they need and that slows both their healing and the legal process.
Depending on the case, we may also conduct an investigation. We regularly partner with a private investigator, so if liability is going to be contested, I gather all the witness statements and other documentation that helps build our case. If the other driver’s insurance company says my client caused the wreck or is more than 50% at fault in causing the wreck, I need to fix that, and I want to do that as quickly as possible, which is another reason why somebody involved in a wreck should call a lawyer sooner rather than later. We have our investigator talk to the witnesses while the incident it is still fresh in their minds. If liability is taken care of, we turn our focus to getting our clients well.
Next, we gather medical records while remaining in contact with our clients. I like to have my clients check in with me every few weeks just to let me know what’s going on. I get to know my clients better, I get to understand what impact this had on their lives, and that’s useful to me because ultimately the client gets better or they get as good as they’re going to get, and when that time comes, we know the range of value of the case. It’s impossible to say what a case is worth until the client fully recovers or is determined to be as good as they will get, and we can know what problems they will face in the future.
Once healed or medically stationary, we typically send out a demand letter and many times we can resolve claims without having to file a lawsuit. If we are unable to settle it, we file a lawsuit to preserve the claim and we treat each case as if we are going to try it.
Christina Penza: What are the different types of damages?
Jon Friedman: In Oregon, there are two kinds of damages. There are economic damages, which consist of your past, present and future medical bills and wage losses. If it’s a future wage loss, it’s called impairment of future earning capacity, but simply means you’re going to lose income in the future because your injuries have impaired your ability to work in the future. In other words, in the future, you’re going to have a problem making the same money you made before the accident.
The other component of damage is non-economic damages, which basically means past, present and future, pain and suffering, but as importantly, interference with your ability to lead your day-to-day life. Basically, every way the accident has impacted you in leading a normal life is compensable, and ultimately, it’s the jury who decides what a fair value is for the harms that have been caused you.
Christina Penza: Why do people need a lawyer?
Jon Friedman: I think the real reason, now that I’ve been doing this for almost 35 years, that people need a lawyer is because there are a lot of nuances that folks who have never been involved in a car wreck simply don’t know. People sometimes try to make it sound better than it is. Sometimes, people will say to their physical therapist, “I feel great today,” because they want to be upbeat and not feel like they are whining or complaining. In doing so, when it’s not true, they harm their legal claim. People need to be completely honest with medical providers, but many sugar coat things and it is not helpful. For example, a lot of times people won’t seek the medical attention that is appropriate. Also, people don’t have a good sense of value in a claim. They’ve never done this before. They don’t know what to do at each step of the proceeding to ensure they get the best recovery.
A lawyer is going to seek fair compensation to adequately compensate the person for the harm he/she suffers because of somebody else’s negligence.
Christina Penza: What will a lawyer do for you?
Jon Friedman: What I do as a lawyer is interact with the insurance companies to ensure that my client has nothing to do but work on getting well. I’m going to take care of all the bills. I’m going to take care of personal injury protection benefits. I’m going to do an investigation to ensure that liability is clarified and locked down as quickly as possible. I’m going to check in on a regular basis with my client to ensure that they’re doing what they ought to be doing, getting proper medical attention, not trying to push themselves too hard or too fast, but doing what they should be doing.
People still must make a living, even though they get involved in a car wreck. There are life’s events we still must deal with, and we do the best we can in guiding our clients through the system based on 35 years of having done this every day. We counteract the expertise of an insurance carrier to get you fair compensation for your injury.
Christina Penza: What should a person do if they are in a motor vehicle accident?
Jon Friedman: If you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident, you should exchange information. Get the other person’s driver’s license, copy down all the information on it, get the license plate number, on the car that the other side is driving, the make and the model, note where the accident happened. If you have any witnesses, get their names, get their telephone numbers, and get their addresses. Get as much information as possible. In Portland, police are not going to respond to a 911 call unless there is a really serious injury, generally necessitating an ambulance ride and sometimes, even getting an ambulance ride to check out a neck or back will still not get the police to show up. It’s up to you to get every bit of information you can get about the other person while you are at the scene. It can often be recreated later, but the more information on the person who hit you, the better.
Christina Penza: When should a person who has been injured in an auto accident consult an attorney?
Jon Friedman: My preference would be that they contact the lawyer as soon as possible. I think if they have an injury the best thing to do is to go see their doctor. I think they should go see a medical doctor and they should go see their primary care physician with whom they have got a long-established history. I recommend that people see their own medical doctors. Then, if I’m fortunate enough to get a call a few days into it, I should have enough information to tell you if you even need a lawyer or whether we should meet.
If we meet, my private investigator can go and get taped witness statements. I do not take witness statements myself because if I get a witness who tells me something happened and then we end up in a trial and that witness says something different happened, I become a witness and my client has lost a lawyer and gained me as a witness.
We’re going to keep the insurance carriers at bay and in line in terms of personal injury protection benefits. I keep the bad driver’s insurance carrier away completely. I tell them we have nothing to talk about, diary it for 60 or 90 days and give me a call then. In the interim, the client continues to treat and focus on getting better.
Clients sometimes get pretty upset by having to talk to insurance carriers. It’s a distraction and it’s a worry because they don’t really know what is going on and they’re trying their best in an uncertain world where all the cards are stacked against them. The insurance carriers have been doing it forever and they have lawyers and they’ve got managers who are running the show. The client has a serious disadvantage if that person hasn’t at least spoken to a lawyer.
Christina Penza: Is it okay to be tape-recorded by an insurance company?
Jon Friedman: Once I’m involved, the carrier cannot even contact the client. If somebody has not got a lawyer, you bet that the bad driver’s insurance carrier is going to call and ask to get a recorded statement. I discourage that. In fact, I would never allow my client to do that. Once I get involved it’s very rare where I would allow my client to give a statement. Typically, I will offer, if the carrier, in writing, waives the right to take any kind of statement thereafter to make my client available to give a statement. That always ends the dialogue.
Christina Penza: Isn’t my insurance provider on my side?
Jon Friedman: As a general proposition, the insurance carrier, regardless of whether it’s your own, or whether it’s the bad driver’s insurance carrier, their primary interest is their own bottom line.
Christina Penza: What should you do when contacted by an insurance provider after an accident?
Jon Friedman: If you get into a car wreck, you have a contractual responsibility to contact your own insurance company and report it. In Oregon, you have what’s called personal injury protection, also known as PIP, and that pays for up to $15,000 in medical coverage necessarily caused by the accident so long as it is incurred within one year of the wreck. Moreover, personal injury protection benefits give wage loss of up to $3000 a month or 70%, whichever is less for up to one year.
So, when your own company calls, you certainly should talk to them because you have contractual responsibilities if you want your personal injury protection benefits. As to the bad driver’s insurance company, I advise people not to speak to them at all.
The bad driver’s carrier has no responsibility to do anything for you until it’s time to totally resolve the case. It’s not time to totally resolve the case until one of two things happens. One, you are all better. You are back to where you were the day before the wreck. Or, you’ve gone through all of your medical treatment and your doctor says you’re medically stationary, which basically means you’re as good as you’re going to get, and is prepared to tell me what permanent residuals you’re going to experience in terms of future pain, future limitations and your ability to do your daily living activities.
When one of these two events occurs, then and only then can you assess the full extent of damages. Until then, an insurance carrier is going to try and push you to try and settle a case without any clue of the real value of the case. Nobody has got a crystal ball as to whether the injuries you sustained are permanent or not. The insurance carriers call us to get you to settle as quickly as possible because once you’ve settled it doesn’t matter to them what you later learn about the state of your health.
Christina Penza: Should I contact an attorney if contacted by an insurance provider?
Jon Friedman: I think it’s always a good idea to talk to an attorney. I talk to anybody who calls and I’m happy to give free advice. Typically, what they need is some guidance and a steer as to what they should do. The primary goal is getting well. So, you want to focus on getting the medical attention they need to ensure they get well as quickly as possible. The legal side of this is the tail end of the dog, but sometimes you need both a doctor and a lawyer to be trying to help you at the same time.