If you’re in a car accident that’s serious enough to cause injury, it’s likely that your car suffered significant damage too. It may even be completely totaled. What you may be wondering is “Do I pay for my vehicle damage after a car accident in Hillsboro, Oregon?”
The answer is not straightforward. Oregon is an at-fault state for personal injury claims, meaning that the party who causes a car accident is legally responsible for paying for any injuries and property damage. However, there are times when you might want to turn to your own insurer instead. In this blog, the team at Harris Velazquez Gibbens PC explains your options for covering your vehicle damage after a car accident in Hillsboro, Oregon.
What Happens After an Accident in Hillsboro, Oregon?
After a car accident in Oregon, the first thing you should do is seek medical treatment for your injuries. When it comes to pursuing compensation for your medical bills, vehicle damage, and other losses in Oregon, you generally have three options.
- Filing a Claim With Your Own Insurer: You can file a claim with your own insurer, regardless of who caused the accident. Treatment for your injuries may be covered by your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage while if you have collision coverage it will pay for damage to your vehicle. This is sometimes much faster. However, your any deductible is your reponsibility.
- Filing a Claim With the Driver’s Insurer: If it’s clear that the other driver was at fault for the crash, you can file a claim with their insurer and have your bills paid by their liability coverage.
- File a Lawsuit: You have the option of suing the at-fault driver directly, although if they are ordered to compensate you, their auto insurance coverage would still come into play and this takes a significant amount of time.
In Oregon, the minimum amount of auto insurance is:
- $25,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the policyholder
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death
- $20,000 for property damage
- $15,000 in personal injury protection coverage, per person
- $25,000 per person and $50,000 total per accident in uninsured motorist coverage
This means that in an accident caused by an insured driver, up to $20,000 is available to cover your vehicle damage if you don’t opt to use your own collision coverage or sue the driver directly.
What About Collision Coverage?
Collision insurance covers the cost of repairing (or replacing) your vehicle following a car accident. The coverage must be specifically included in your insurance policy in Oregon, as it is not mandatory. However, your motor vehicle lessor or lender may require you to carry it to repair or replace your vehicle should you collide with another motorist or an object like a mailbox or telephone pole.
Repairing Your Vehicle After an Accident
If you have collision coverage or are not the at-fault driver, most vehicle repairs can be resolved by contacting either your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company directly. You will be directly reimbursed by the appropriate insurer for repairs to your vehicle following an Oregon accident, provided that the repairs do not exceed the vehicle’s value.
You are entitled to have your vehicle repaired to its pre-accident condition. However, even the most competent repair job may not prevent its value from being reduced simply because it was damaged in an accident. In these situations, Oregon law allows you to seek recovery for the difference between your vehicle’s pre-accident value and its post-repair value. This action is known as a diminished value claim. A professional automobile appraisal will likely be required to prove your claim.
Do You Have To Use The Mechanic The Insurance Company Recommends?
The insurer covering your auto repair bills will recommend repair shops, but you are not obligated to use any of them. Some shops save money by using knock-off or used parts instead of OEM parts, so it’s important to work with an establishment that you’re personally familiar with or has been recommended by friends and family.
What if Your Vehicle is a Total Loss?
If the repair costs surpass the value of the vehicle, the insurance company will declare it a “total loss,” and you will be entitled to recover the fair market value plus tax and title costs. In other words, you are entitled to receive what it would cost you to buy your exact vehicle on the open market. Additionally, you may be entitled to a rental car while your car is being evaluated or repaired.
When you’re trying to determine a fair price, a vehicle valuation service, such as the National Automobile Dealers Association or Kelley Blue Book can be helpful. You can also get a reasonable idea of your car’s value by reviewing dealer prices and classified ads for similar vehicles, or you can hire a professional automobile appraiser to provide a valuation report.
Vehicle Repair Under Oregon’s Modified Comparative Negligence System
Under Oregon’s modified comparative negligence law, reimbursement for injuries and vehicle damage will be reduced according to the victim’s liability. In the case of a car owner who suffers $10,000 in vehicle damage, but is deemed 20% responsible for the accident, they will only be able to recover $8,000.
Comparative negligence is always determined by the facts of the accident. An experienced lawyer can investigate what happened and present events in a way that maximizes your chances of recovering the full amount.
How Long Does It Take To Settle A Car Accident Claim In Oregon?
An insurance company in Oregon has 60 days to acknowledge a claim and decide whether to accept it. This timeline is broken down as follows:
- 30 days to acknowledge the claim and provide the policyholders with the necessary paperwork and instructions
- 30 days to make a decision after receiving completed forms documenting proof of loss
Several factors can influence how long it takes an insurance company to settle a claim. A catastrophic accident with an equally severe bodily injury claim can slow down the process, as there is typically a lot of money involved and insurers will do everything they can to protect their bottom line.
How Can a Car Accident Claim Lawyer Help?
Dealing with insurance companies after an accident can be daunting without a lawyer. Although their representatives will be solicitous over the phone, an insurer is like any other business in that it wants to stay profitable. This means paying as little as possible when a claim is presented or finding ways to evade responsibility.
A Hillsboro, OR car accident claim lawyer at Harris Velazquez Gibbens PC can protect your rights by dealing with the insurance company on your behalf and negotiating for a fair settlement that includes your vehicle repair costs. If the insurer refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial and seek an appropriate award.
Was Your Vehicle Damaged in a Car Accident in Oregon? Get a Free Consultation From a Personal Injury Lawyer
Whenever you are involved in a car accident in Hillsboro, Oregon, Harris Velazquez Gibbens PC. will advocate for you and help you receive the compensation you deserve. In addition to offering free case reviews, we charge no attorney’s fees unless you are successful in recovering compensation. To learn more or schedule a consultation, please call (503) 782-7235 or contact us online.