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New Auto Accident Protections in Oregon

Do you live in Oregon? Do you drive a car? Then you have car insurance (or you SHOULD). If you do have insurance and live in Oregon, then please read on below. If you get into an auto accident after January 1st, you’ll be glad you took our advice:

Call your auto insurance provider and ask for a new policy dated January 1, 2016 or later. Earlier this year, Governor Kate Brown signed into law Senate Bill 411, which significantly improves Oregon’s uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM), and personal injury protection (PIP) statutes. These changes only apply to policies issued on January 1, 2016 or later.

As an auto accident attorney in Gresham, I strive to provide the maximum, fair amount in compensation for my clients. Understanding this new law will help your Gresham auto accident lawyer fight on your behalf for the highest amount you deserve in damages after an auto collision and other personal injury accidents.

The most important part of the new law is that it now allows you to “stack” your UM/UIM coverage on top of the liability coverage of the driver that hit you. Imagine a scenario where you are in a collision and suffer $45,000 worth of medical bills for a short hospital stay and a surgery but the at-fault driver only has the Oregon minimum $25,000 liability policy.

Under the previous statutes if you had the minimum UM/UIM policy of $25,000 also, you weren’t eligible to recover from your UM/UIM policy even though you paid for it. You had to have higher UM/UIM limits than the at-fault driver’s liability limits.

Now, you will be able to “stack” your $25,000 UM/UIM coverage on top of the at-fault driver’s $25,000 liability policy, thereby doubling the amount of funds available to compensate you for your injuries.

Another important change is that any PIP payments for your medical bills do not have to be paid back out of any settlement with the at-fault driver if your total damages suffered exceed the amounts recovered.

So, in the example above, your economic damages are $45,000 but you likely suffered significant pain and personal damages as well, putting your total damage well above $50,000. Under the new statute, your PIP payments made by your insurance company for your hospital stay do not need to be paid back from your settlement proceeds. Under the old statute you would need to pay back your settlement proceeds because your insurance company would only waive repayment of PIP if the amounts recovered exceeded economic damages. The long and short of it is that this will mean more money in the pockets of injured drivers at the end of the day.

Another excellent change is that PIP coverage is extended to two years after the date of the accident instead of the one year the previous law required. So if your personal injuries take more than a year to heal, you’re still covered under the new law.

So: Call your insurance company! Hopefully you never need to use these provisions, but if you do, you will be glad you took the time to make sure you are protected by Oregon’s new and stronger insurance laws. To learn more about what you can do after an auto accident, contact your Gamboa Law Firm, your Gresham auto accident attorney, for a free case evaluation.