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GREEN Means RED: Oregon’s Misunderstood Crosswalk Laws

Most Oregon drivers know to stop for pedestrians, walking within a marked cross walk when the pedestrian has the right of way as indicated by a green light or pedestrian walk signal.  What many Oregon motorist don’t know is that under Oregon law, a crosswalk exists at EVERY intersection, whether or not the crosswalk is marked.  ORS 811.028

A reasonable question to ask might be, “If a crosswalk exists at every intersection, where is the cross walk in an intersection without a marked crosswalk? Answer:  Where one would expect the crosswalk to be: an imaginary connection of sidewalks on opposite sides of a street. If no sidewalks exist, where a sidewalk would be.   Crosswalks need not be parallel with each other but crosswalks must be at least 6 feet wide and no more than 20 feet wide.  Crosswalks exist mid-block ONLY where clearly marked.

A pedestrians’ right to cross at a crosswalk begins when any part of the pedestrian’s body (or body extension, such as a bicycle, cane or wheelchair) crosses the curb / street plane. At that point, the vehicle has a duty to stopregardless of the color or any traffic signal device!  ORS 811.028 (4). Oregon law prohibits pedestrians from walking directly into traffic, however. ORS 814.028 (4).  A driver cannot enter into a crosswalk until the pedestrian clears its lane and is at least 6 feet away.

Misleading Sign May Cause Head On

Wrong WayHard Left would ends in head on collision: S.W. Bancroft @ Macadam in Portland.

I notified ODOT moments ago about this.

By |April 10th, 2015|Auto Accidents, General News|

“Normal” image, Serious injury

The best evidence in any personal injury case is “objective”. A classic example of objective evidence is an x-ray. An x-ray showing a break is very strong evidence of injury. But a “normal” x-ray does not rule out injury, only a broken bone. Negative x-rays leave open the possibility of ligament, facet, cartilage muscle and other soft tissue. Defense lawyers tend to dismiss soft tissue injuries, but the reality is soft tissue injury can be very serious and often painful.

Computerized tomography (CT or CAT Scan) produce a better, more specific image through slice pictures of tissue. CT scans can identify bleeding, clotting and traumatic injury. Still, CT scans also cannot rule out certain injuries. For example, lesions less than 1 to 1.5 centimeters generally do not show up on a CT Scan. Small lesions can be serious, especially where brain injury is involved.

MRI show even greater detail than CT Scans. The MRI is best suited to revealing Ligament injury, spinal cord injury disc herniation and some soft tissue injuries. MRI scans also have limitations and cannot show damage on the cellular level of tissue smaller than 1.5mm. As a consequence, many people suffering from mild traumatic brain injury will have normal MRIs.

In recent years, a new special MRI known as an fMRI is being used to ferret out tiny metabolic changes in blood during brain functioning. Micro images generated by the fMRI allow analysis of brain functioning in real time to assess the effect of trauma with, of course, its own limitations.

By |April 8th, 2015|Brain Injury|

Do not obey


In 1961 Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram performed “shocking” experiments which revealed human bias toward following orders—even in the face of evidence that compliance caused harm (in the form of a shock) to others.

After a car crash you promptly and dutifully call your insurer to provide the details. Your auto insurance co. sends you a packet with forms asking about the accident, your wages, your medical providers and Medicare eligibility. Your insurer also asks that you sign and return a medical release. Generally speaking, you should provide your auto insurance carrier the information it needs to evaluate and pay medical costs and wage losses under its PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage. Plus, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurer’s investigation per the terms of your policy.

You also receive a second packet. This one looks “official” and very similar to the packet you received from your own insurance company, except for one detail. This second letter is from the insurance company for the other driver. Should you dutifully complete and return? NO. DO NOT COMPLETE FORMS FOR THE OPPOSING INSURANCE COMPANY.

Unlike your insurance company, you have no contract with the other insurance company. To the contrary, the only reason you know about the other insurance company is because someone it insures caused you harm. The other insurance company is gathering information to help it defend against your claim and set reserves. THE OPPOSING INSURANCE COMPANY INSURERS SOMEONE WHO HARMED YOU, YOUR LAWYER WILL TELL THEM WHEN TO JUMP, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

As we learned from Stanley Milgram, humans tend to obey orders from figures of authority. Don’t fall for it. Adjusters for the opposing insurance company are potential witnesses who could testify against you. You owe them nothing. They owe you compensation for your injuries. Not the other way around. The information the opposing insurance company needs to evaluate your claim should be presented at your convenience through your lawyer, not at the convenience of the insurer for the wrong doer.

By |March 25th, 2015|Insurance Law|

More Insurance in Oregon for Seriously Injured

On January 1, 2016 persons seriously injured in an Oregon motor vehicle crash will have access to more insurance proceeds when SB 411 becomes law. The new law will require the insurer for the driver at fault to pay the injured persons before repaying the PIP medical insurer. The new law will also allow the injured person to access the at fault drivers limits PLUS coverage under his own policy to the extent the at fault driver’s policy is insufficient to pay the loss. This change will be a huge help to auto injury victims.

By |March 20th, 2015|Auto Accidents, Personal Injury|

Oregon Traffic plea or conviction not proof of negligence


A careless driver smashes into you. He gets cited for careless driving, pleads guilty and is convicted. Pretty good evidence of negligence for your injury claim, right? Maybe not.

In Oregon, a plea, judgment or conviction of a traffic crime is not admissible in a later civil trial arising from the same facts. See, ORS 41.905 and 153.108 (2). Even though the plea, judgment or conviction is inadmissible, the facts that led to the conviction are often admissible. Often prosecutors will happily share evidence that led to the conviction to help establish liability in the civil personal injury matter.

By |March 2nd, 2015|Auto Accidents, Insurance Law|

NEW Underinsured Motorist “Stacking” Legislation-Oregon


You were in an auto accident. The driver of the other car admits fault, but only has $25k liability coverage and your losses are $50k. You have $25k of underinsured motorist coverage under your own auto insurance policy.

So you next call your own insurance company to ask them to kick in $25k of underinsured motorist coverage under your own policy to you will be made whole ($25k from the bad driver’s insurance company + $25k from your own insurer per your underinsured motorist coverage). Do you get the extra $25k from your own insurer? In other words, does your underinsured motorist coverage “stack” on top of the bad driver’s $25k so that you get $50k of coverage?

NO, under current Oregon law the carrier providing under insured coverage gets to reduce the amount owed under underinsured coverage by the amount paid by the bad drivers’ insurance company under its liability coverage. Thus, the underinsured carrier pays zero under our scenario and you only get $25k, not $50k.

But that is about to change assuming Oregon Senate Bill 411 passes. Under the newly proposed law, Oregonians involved in an auto accident will be able to “stack” underinsured motorist coverage on top of the insurance limits of the driver fault… getting you $50k , rather than $25k in the above example. For more information: SMO PR_SB 411 PIP Stacking_02 24 2015

By |February 25th, 2015|Auto Accidents|

Contrasting two news characters


Bob Simon died yesterday in tragic car accident. He was a “reporter’s reporter” recalled CBS anchor Scott Pelley this morning. Time and time again, Mr. Simon would search for the true news, with little regard for his own safety.

Bob Simon has earned many awards for his insightful and courageous journalism. He is known for his battlefield coverage of the Vietnam War. He was held captive in Iraq for 40 days in 1991. Bob deplored injustice and was not afraid to directly confront bullies. Mr. Simon sought the truth without fear. He was the reporter another high flying former anchor wishes he could be. RIP Bob Simon.

For more on Bob Simon go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/02/11/bob-simon-veteran-60-minutes-correspondent-killed-in-car-crash/

By |February 12th, 2015|Misc|

We take 100% responsibility….Not!


You are hurt in an accident. You contact the adjuster for the party at fault. Then, of course, you dutifully describe the accident and your injuries. “Don’t worry we accept full responsibility” says the adjuster for the bad actor. “Whew! you think….what a relief” you think. Not so fast.

Every personal injury case necessarily involves three questions:
1. Is the act covered by insurance?
2. Who is at fault?
3. What are the damages?

When an opposing adjuster says something like “We accept full responsibility”, he most likely means that 1. Insurance coverage exists for this loss; and 2. Our guy is at fault… without admitting the extent of damages (3 above) caused by the accident.

That is why even though the other insurer admits fault, you still need an attorney. Insurers simply are not motivated to pay fair value to unrepresented injured persons. Without legal representation, insures face little chance of retribution for playing hard ball with low ball offers. It is the risk of potentially large verdict that motivates insures fairly value damages.

By |February 3rd, 2015|Auto Accidents, Insurance Law|

Traumatic Brain Injury? Make an appointment with a Neurologist ASAP


A traumatic brain injury is an injurious trauma to the head, more commonly described as a “concussion”. Not all concussions are the same.

The American Academy of Neurology sets three grades of traumatic brain injury:
Grade 1– No loss of consciousness. Difficulty conversing. Confusion. Headache. Symptoms resolve in about 15 minutes.
Grade 2– Same as above but symptoms are more severe and last longer than 15 minutes.
Grade 3– Any loss of consciousness.

Neurologists are sought after and usually have tight schedules. Not all traumatic brain injuries show up on CT or MRIs. If you have had a Grade 2 or 3 traumatic brain injury, get a referral to a neurologist from your primary care physician as soon as possible…then make the appointment! The next available slot may be several weeks away.

By |January 29th, 2015|Misc|