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Alternate Transportation

1) How do commercial semi-truck crashes differ from noncommercial traffic collisions?

Commercial trucks have the potential of causing much more damage than most personal use vehicles. As a result, commercial trucks are highly regulated. Commercial trucks impacting interstate commerce must comply with detailed federal trucking laws and regulations.

Commercial trucks have higher insurance requirements than cars. Under federal law trucks including semis and LCVs must carry at least $750,000 of liability insurance coverage per accident. Smaller commercial trucks with non-hazardous loads need $300,000 in insurance for general goods. Trucks hauling HAZMAT materials must have at least $1M coverage of bodily injury and damage to property liability coverage. By contrast, Oregon law currently only requires $25k per person / $50k of liability insurance for per accidents for cars and light duty trucks.

Commercial truckers have more laws to comply with than lay drivers. For example, federal trucking rules and regulations set the correct method for loading, maintaining, operating commercial tractor-trailers. Federal trucking regulations also limit commercial truckers’ hours of service. A trucker or truck company violation of a safety rule establishes negligence as a matter of law (“negligence per se”).

Potential for catastrophic claims has led the trucking industry toward aggressive practices designed to limit their financial exposure. For example, it’s not unusual for trucking companies, their insurers and even attorneys to arrive at an accident scene, confiscate crucial evidence and sequester their truck drivers.

TIP: For more detailed information about truck accident claims go to http://www.portlandtruckaccidentlawyer.com/.

2) I was hit while a pedestrian or bicyclist. Who pays my medical bills?

Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that, in addition to covering auto crash injuries, Oregon’s no fault auto medical coverage (known as ‘personal injury protection” or “PIP’) also covers pedestrian and bicycle injury medical costs.

Pedestrians with PIP coverage injured in a traffic accident, should notify their own auto insurer of the pedestrian traffic accident and then instruct medical providers to bill to that PIP claim number. If the injured pedestrian or bicyclist has neither auto insurance nor health insurance, PIP insurance for the driver at fault applies. In that situation, the injured person should fax the insurer for the driver at fault to request a PIP claim number be assigned.

Once PIP limits are exhausted or expire, the injured pedestrian or bicyclist should fax evidence that no more PIP coverage exists to the her health insurance company instructing the health insurer to pay all further accident related medical charges. If the injured pedestrian or bicyclist does not have auto insurance or purchased auto insurance in a state where PIP is not required, the injured person should fax all medical bills to his or her health insurer for processing.

DANGER: The insurer for the driver at fault is motivated to limit liability. When that same insurer provides PIP coverage, it’s relatively easy for it to power play an injured person via their early access to medical information.

TIP: It’s generally not a good idea for unrepresented persons to speak with representatives of the insurance company for the driver at fault–the opposing insurer is motivated to minimize damages and undermine fault. Get an attorney’s help to deal with the adjuster for the party at fault. Remember, opposing adjusters are potential witnesses who could later testify against you.

3) Is PIP medical insurance required for motorcycles?

No. Many people are surprised to learn that Oregon does not require PIP coverage on motorcycles. Washington state does not require PIP coverage for any vehicle—cars or motorcycle. Motorcyclists may, and should, purchase PIP medical coverage.

TIP: If you ride a motorcycle, select an insurer who offers PIP coverage for motorcycle accidents. If you don’t, bill your medical charges to your health insurer.

DANGER: Your health insurer will later seek reimbursement for the meds it paid from case proceeds. Inability to pay medical costs is the top cause of bankruptcy. Purchase ample PIP coverage regardless of the vehicle you drive. Inability to pay medical costs is the #1 cause of bankruptcy.