What To Do (and not do) After an Oregon or Washington Car Collision

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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Joe Di Bartolomeo is a top rated personal injury lawyer helping Oregon and Washington families

Nobody expects to be injured in an auto collision, and there is plenty out there for you to read on what to do after the collision.  We have been at it for over 25 years helping injured people, and here are a few things we have seen that can help you in the days after an injury.

First Things First

Some people walk away from these collisions, and others do not.  We have sat with families in the ICU, and obviously the priorities are much different.  The first thing you should be concerned about is your health.

Many of our clients are stubborn, and we get it.  They continue with their everyday activities until the pain becomes too much to bear. Even with minor “fender benders,” you should get checked out by a physician just to make sure everything is fine.

Get Driver and Insurance Information

Obtain the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information. The insurance information includes the name of the company, and the policy number.

If the police reported to the collision scene, you will probably be provided with a police report number, or the police officer’s business card. Some police agencies also use an exchange of information form to ensure that you have the other driver’s information.

If you are injured, you are probably not going to be in any mood to deal with insurance companies, or healthcare providers seeking insurance billing information. If you have a friend or family member that can help you field the initial calls, and get the information you need from insurance carriers, do that.

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters

   There is no rush for you to speak with the liability insurance adjuster handling your injury claim. Many companies employ a tactic of attempting to resolve injury cases quickly, and for far less than what is fair. You don’t need to hire an attorney in every situation, but there is no problem taking a break from dealing with the adjuster. They can wait.

 If you are up to it, keep notes of your conversations with adjusters, and organize your documents so you have your claim information, and the responsible driver’s claim information. Again, if your injury prevents you from putting this together, don’t be bashful, and ask a friend or family member for help.

Your Insurance Carrier

Report the collision to your insurance company. A local agent is a great resource to help you get started. If your insured in the State of Oregon, then you have no-fault medical and disability insurance to help you with medical expenses. Read more about how that works here.

Your insurance carrier will be asked to fill out some forms and sign medical releases. This is appropriate because your insurance policy is an agreement between you and your insurance company. One of the provisions in that agreement requires that you cooperate with your insurance company and provide information.

There is always a possibility that you may get into a dispute with your insurance company over whether medical expenses should be paid. However, you must follow the initial steps to start the claim process so your medical bills can be processed.

Property Damage Claims

A property damage claim is a different claim than the injury claim. If your car was damaged in the collision, you may recover the cost of repair. You can also make a claim for the loss in value of your car even after it was repaired. If the car cannot be repaired, then you may recover the fair market value of your car.

Many of our clients have resolved their property damage claim by the time they come in to see us. However, we often help folks with property damage issues as part of their case.

If the other driver’s insurance company admits that it would be found at fault in court, it will probably make an offer for the cost of repair or replacement for your car. Speak with these adjusters to get the property damage issues behind you.

You may also have coverage on your own insurance policy, and elect to go through your company to get your car repaired or replaced. Again, it makes sense to deal with these folks so you can put the property damage claim behind you.

Other Resources

We have plenty of resources designed to help you through the first few difficult days after an auto collision. Just use our “search” function to find the answers to your question. You can also order our free Oregon Personal Injury Guide. This consumer guide answers the most commonly asked questions, and helps you avoid the most common mistakes in handling a claim.