Monthly Archives: March 2012
A new movie focused on access to the civil justice system and tort reform efforts has received a lot of attention lately. Hot Coffee, produced and directed by Ashland, Oregon resident Susan Saladoff, showcases four legal cases, including the infamous McDonald’s coffee case, and explores what really happened and what was going on behind the scenes.
The show first aired on HBO on June 27, 2011. The DVD will be available this fall.
Watch the trailer here:
For more information, visit hotcoffeethemovie.com and http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20110627/OPINION/106270333/1046.
Much like a misplaced tool, uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage don’t get noticed until something goes wrong and they are needed.
Auto Liability Insurance Basics
Oregon law requires that everyone who drives must have car insurance which covers both the driver and passengers. This mandatory insurance includes liability coverage (click here for information about PIP, another type of coverage). This means that every driver must have insurance to pay for damages to others. This insurance will pay for the other person’s medical bills, lost wages, lost future earning ability, pain and suffering, and other losses. The minimum amount of liability insurance in Oregon is $25,000. But what happens if you are injured because another driver was careless and you suffer damages greater than $25,000?
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In some circumstances, your own car insurance policy will cover you if the person who hit you doesn’t have enough insurance. Say for example your damages are $100,000, but the driver who hit you only had a $25,000 policy. Where will the other $75,000 come from?
“Underinsured” motorist coverage in Oregon usually has the same limit as your liability insurance coverage. This means if you bought a $25,000 policy, your underinsurance coverage is probably $25,000. In Oregon, underinsurance benefits do not “stack,” which means in this case, you are stuck with the $25,000 limit of the bad driver’s policy. However, if you bought a $50,000 policy, you have an additional $25,000 of your own insurance available to cover your damages, for total coverage of $50,000 ($25,000 from the bad driver’s insurance policy, plus an additional $25,000 from your own policy). This is still less than your damages, but better than before. If you purchased a $100,000 policy, the other side’s insurance company will pay its $25,000 limits, then your policy would pay the rest of your damages, or the next $75,000, for a total of $100,000.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
What if the bad driver who hit you has no insurance at all? In Oregon, your auto insurance policy also includes what is called “uninsured” motorist coverage. This means if the bad driver has no insurance at all, your insurance policy will cover your damages. Here too, your recovery will be limited by the limits of your policy—if you purchased a $25,000 policy, you can only recover up to $25,000. The same is true with larger policies as well—your claim against your own insurance policy for someone else’s negligence is limited by your policy limits.
Oregon law requires each of these types of insurance be included in your own auto insurance coverage. If you have questions regarding insurance coverage for a significant injury from a car accident, contact us. We’ll give you a free initial consultation and explain your rights to you.
If you’ve just been in a car wreck or hit your head, one of the most important things you can do is grab a snack. Preferably as you’re on your way to get medical attention. The Institute of Medicine recently released a report showing that after head trauma, you need to eat a lot of protein within 24 hours. This can reduce your chances of death (mortality) and your chances of ongoing problems or complications (morbidity), particularly in serious injuries. The calories and protein give your body and mind the fuel they need to heal and that first 24 hour period is critical. Balanced blood sugar is also important, so avoid sugary snacks for a bit. You should keep focusing on getting more protein than normal for at least two weeks after the injury.
The Institute’s research focused on military personnel in combat zones, but the same principles are true for any kind of concussion, including injuries from auto accidents, even sports injuries.
Traumatic brain injuries (or TBI) can range from mild to severe. The report indicates that concussions (mild traumatic brain injuries) account for more than 75% of civilian traumatic brain injuries every year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that “it is clear that the consequences of [mild traumatic brain injury] are often not mild.” What the CDC means is that a mild traumatic brain injury is described as mild because of the amount of force that caused it—not the consequences of the injury.
The CDC defines mild traumatic brain injury as a result from a blunt trauma injury to the head or injury to the head because of acceleration or deceleration forces (meaning the head does not necessarily have to hit anything to cause a traumatic brain injury). A mild traumatic brain injury also involves one or more of the following:
- Observed or self-reported:
- Momentary confusion, disorientation, or impaired consciousness;
- Loss of memory around the time of injury;
- A short loss of consciousness (less than 30 minutes).
- Observed signs of neurological or neuropsychological dysfunction, such as:
- Seizures immediately after injury to the head;
- Infants and very young children may become irritable, lethargic (tired), or vomit following head injury;
- Older children and adults sometimes have a headache, dizziness, irritability, fatigue, or poor concentration soon after injury.
If you have experienced a traumatic brain injury immediate medical care is important. It is your best chance for the best outcome. Just don’t forget to eat too.