Category Archives: Blog

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday!

Dwyer Williams-Potter Law StaffFrom all of the personal injury attorneys and everyone here at Dwyer Williams Potter, please enjoy a safe and happy holiday time, and don’t forget a few simple things to get you and yours through the next few weeks with minimal mishaps:

  • Use a designated driver or take a cab if you enjoy a few drinks at the party. Have a plan to spend the night or an alternative way home.
  • Wear your seat belt and drive defensively – it may not be you that causes the accident, but injuries may be avoidable.
  • If you host a party, don’t forget to include non-alcoholic beverages and check in with your guests before they leave – having a number to the local cab company handy can be a life-saver – literally!
  • When walking or riding a bike in the dark, remember to wear bright, reflective clothing for yours, and everyone’s safety.

Portland Schools’ Bus Safety Reports Are Alarming

According to recent research published by the Oregon Department of Education, Portland school buses are in dire shape.  Since 2007, certified state as well as school district inspectors have been responsible for keeping buses in safe running condition.

Portland Oregon School BusAccording to the data, Oregon’s school bus inspectors found buses that were in such poor shape that they had to be immediately taken out of service.  The true scope of this problem remains unknown.  As Steven Huillet, former Director of Pupil Transportation for ODE, explained to reporters at KVAL: “we have two people… assigned to inspect the school buses for 196 districts.”

Reports released by On Your Side inspectors reveal that the ODE has not been able to inspect any district’s buses more than once in the past five years.  Steven Huillet added that, in his estimation, upward of three quarters of our state’s buses go un-inspected on any given year.  How is your school district doing?  Read the stats here.

Auto Accident Attorney Resolves Case Involving Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-existing injuries and health issues can complicate a liability claim, but these obstacles can be overcome with the help of a medical expert, as they were in a recent case of ours. Our client, a nineteen-year-old young woman, was on the way to visit family in Portland, Oregon with her mother. In a frightening chain of events, another driver ran a red light and hit the passenger side of the car, where she was sitting. Auto Accident Lawyers Portland | Auto Accident Attorney Portland | Portland Injury Lawyers | Oregon In addition to the usual auto accident injuries, the wreck aggravated a pre-existing condition. Since infancy, our client had suffered from seizures. Prior to the accident – and for the first time in her life – her seizures were under relatively good control, due to a new medical treatment and a strict diet. She was even studying to get her own driver’s license. After the accident, unfortunately, her seizures came back and happened more frequently and with more severity than they ever had before.

In the midst of her and her family’s distress at having the seizures return, the at-fault driver’s insurance company fought the claim aggressively, arguing that she had always had the seizure disorder and that the wreck hadn’t contributed to its worsening. To complicate matters even further, our client’s long-time doctor told her that he believed the seizures were exacerbated by the accident, but he didn’t want to put it in her official medical records or support her legal claims. At this point, unsure of where to turn, our client decided to contact a Portland, Oregon auto accident attorney to help her fight the insurance company.

After taking her case, I searched out and reviewed the medical literature at length and contacted several experts regarding epilepsy and whiplash injuries. We eventually located a seizure expert who was willing to review her records and consult on her case. We were able to go into mediation with a medical expert on our side. After mediation, the insurance company offered a sizeable settlement for our client – likely a direct result of our efforts to secure a medical expert. Our client was very happy that she had made the decision to contact a Portland, Oregon Personal Injury Attorney at Dwyer Williams Potter.

Auto Accident Attorney Wins Settlement in Challenging Claim

Our client was driving home from his last physical therapy session treating a previous auto accident injury when he was t-boned by a car coming out of a parking lot in Portland, Oregon. In this new accident, he sustained severe injuries to his neck and back and aggravated the knee injury he suffered in the previous accident. His medical bills – after neck surgery – came to about $100,000, an amount far beyond his $50,000 policy limit.

Two accidents in quick succession and minimal policy limits presents a special challenge in an injury claim. Oregon Auto Car Accident Attorneys, Accident Attorney Oregon | Dwyer Williams Potter LLP | Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys In our client’s case, the insurance company made an extremely unreasonable offer, not even offering policy limits. Worried by the insurance company’s paltry offer, he decided he needed the expert help of a Portland, Oregon auto accident attorneys.

After reviewing his case and the insurance company’s reason for their low offer, I filed a lawsuit and pursued an excess exposure claim. The excess exposure doctrine, developed through case law in Oregon, allows for a recovery greater than the policy limits under certain circumstances. When an insurer has opportunity to recognize that damages brought by their insured driver’s liability exceed the policy limits but doesn’t readily offer the entire policy limits, this can result in excess exposure. Since 1956, courts in Oregon have held that an insurance company must not act in bad faith in these situations. An insurer cannot expose their insured to the probability of a verdict that could not be satisfied by the policy limits, leaving them personally liable to pay the additional sum.

Our case went to mediation, and after several rounds of intense negotiation, the insurance company offered a settlement beyond policy limits, ultimately agreeing with our excess exposure argument. Our client was able to pay his medical providers with some money left over for other accident-related expenses. He was very happy with the result and believed that the expert representation he received from the Portland, Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys at Dwyer Williams Potter made all the difference.

Auto Accident Claim Settlement Bridges Financial Gap

Portland, Oregon is known for its iconic bridges. Unfortunately, the Freemont Bridge became iconic to the client in this story for another reason. He was driving on the bridge one day when a tow truck driver cut him off. He had nowhere to go to avoid the accident and crashed hard into the side of the bridge. Not only was this very frightening but he was also seriously injured. His neck injury was diagnosed as a permanent condition. Auto Accident Lawyers Portland | Auto Accident Attorney Portland | Portland Injury Lawyers | Oregon In addition to the pain and cost of medical injury, he also found out that he could no longer work as a mechanic at the local school district, a job he had held for the past 25 years.

One of his major concerns during all of this was how he would continue to care for his family. He knew he needed to learn a new skill that would allow him to work, even with his neck injury. However, the cost of retraining and time required left him and his family in a financial lurch. He filed a claim with his insurance company for his lost wages and retraining costs. When the company denied his claim, he called an experienced Portland, Oregon auto accident attorney to help him fight for his claim.

It ultimately became necessary for me to file a lawsuit in the case, as the insurance company refused to budge on their decision to deny the claim. As is often the case, filing a lawsuit made the insurance company take another look at the claim under dispute with more serious consideration. After reviewing it with their legal counsel, they reversed their decision and offered our client policy limits. This compensation gave our client the means to pay for retraining in a new profession. Thanks to the representation of an experienced Portland, Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys, our client was able to learn a new profession and continue to do what was most important to him – care for his family.

New Car Accident Case Resolved in Arbitration

Our client had just purchased a new car and, having owned it for only three days, had not yet added it to his insurance policy. Auto Accident Lawyers Portland | Auto Accident Attorney Portland | Portland Injury Lawyers | Oregon In a chain of events that is every car buyer’s worst nightmare, our client was involved in a car accident in Portland, Oregon and injured. After getting home from the doctor’s, he added the car to his insurance policy and was told that he would have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for reasonable and necessary medical benefits up to $25,000. This was a relief to him, and he continued his course of treatment for his auto accident injury.

His treatment was complete in six months, and he felt much better, but he had $7,000 in medical expenses. The insurance company, claiming an exclusion based on the fact that the new car had not yet been on his policy at the time of the accident, denied the claim he filed. Although this denial was counter to the information he had gotten on the phone, the insurance company refused to pay his medical expenses, so he called an experienced Portland, Oregon auto accident attorney.

Despites aggressive negotiations, the insurance company refused to change their position. We do all we can to get our clients’ claims paid, so I filed a lawsuit to recover our client’s medical expenses and attorney fees. The lawsuit forced the insurance company to deal with our client’s claim, and they agreed to arbitration, a non-trial method of resolving lawsuits. As in a trial situation, clients need an experienced personal injury attorney to represent them in arbitration.

After arbitration, the insurance company agreed to pay all his medical bills and attorney fees. Our client was very pleased with the result and satisfied with his choice to have a Portland, Oregon Personal Injury Attorney help him fight his case.

Lost Wages Central Issue in PIP Case

Our client had been an active mother of two small children when she was injured in an auto accident in Portland, Oregon. She sought medical treatment for her injuries and had nearly exhausted the $15,000 policy her personal injury protection (PIP) provided. Auto Accident Lawyers Portland | Auto Accident Attorney Portland | Portland Injury Lawyers | Oregon In addition to her medical treatment and expenses, she found that the result of her injury was that she could no longer perform the duties of the job she had enjoyed up until that point. She found another job, but it paid less than her previous one. Trying to take care of herself and her two children, she filed a claim for wage loss through her PIP carrier to cover the gap and give her time to recover financially.

To her surprise, her PIP carrier declared that she had chosen to pursue a new career and refused to pay her lost wages claim. Furthermore, her PIP carrier demanded that she repay what they had paid for her medical bills with the money she had received in the liability settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. A previous attorney had pursued these issues vigorously but with no success, so she transferred the case to a Portland, Oregon auto accident attorneys at Dwyer Williams Potter.

ORS 742.544 provides for repayment only when the recovery is greater than the financial losses. Considering that our client had to take a job that paid less, her lost earning capacity exceeded her liability settlement. The notion that she had wanted a change in careers was absurd, and we provided documentation from our client’s doctors to prove that the change in jobs was due to the injuries she suffered in the accident. In spite of our arguments, the PIP carrier still refused to pay the wage loss. Undaunted and determined to get our client the settlement she deserves, I filed a lawsuit for the lost earnings and attorney fees.

As usual, filing a lawsuit made the PIP carrier take us more seriously, and the case settled shortly after it was referred to a defense attorney, based on the understanding that attorney fee exposure would be far greater than the amount of lost wages. Our client kept the entire $25,000 liability settlement without repaying the medical expenses, and she received the lost wages from her PIP carrier to which she was entitled. She was very happy that she had transferred the case to Dwyer Williams Potter.

If you have been in an auto accident and have medical expenses and have lost wages as a result, we can help you get the financial reimbursement you deserve. Even if you’ve already consulted with another attorney, we often get results where others have failed, as in this case. One of our expert Portland, Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Portland, Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 888-700-4337

Intersections Site of Many Auto Accidents Resulting in Personal Injury

When you think of dangerous places you drive, you may think of I-5, where you speed at 80 mph from exit to exit. Or, maybe you think of downtown Portland, crowded with cars, pedestrians, and bikes. While these places are definitely dangerous, the most dangerous place on the road is far more ordinary and mundane: intersections. Auto Accident Lawyers Portland | Auto Accident Attorney Portland | Portland Injury Lawyers | Oregon The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) even defines an intersection as a “planned point of conflict in the roadway system.” The statistics collected by federal agencies like the FHWA and non-profits like the National Safety Council prove just how treacherous intersections are:

  • Almost 43% of all accidents occur in intersections.
  • In 2009, 20% of all fatal auto accidents occurred in intersections.
  • Also in 2009, over 2.2 million crashes happened just in intersections with traffic lights, which are supposed to provide a measure of safety and control in intersections.
  • Almost 50% of all urban accidents occur in intersections, an especially salient fact for Portland, Oregon drivers.

The area surrounding Portland certainly has its share of dangerous intersections. In early October, a 60 year old motorcyclist was killed at an intersection in Hillsboro by a truck turning left on a blinking caution light. An intersection on Oregon 211 near Mollala has seen repeated coverage in The Oregonian for its fatal crashes in 2005, 2009, and 2011 and numerous injury crashes. Causes for crashes in intersections are as various as the number of drivers on the road: distracted driving, failure to yield right of way, changing lanes in the intersection, and disregard for traffic control signals.

There are many intersections around Portland, Oregon that present a threat for pedestrians and bicyclists as well, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has acted to place better safety signals at these intersections, such as one on the Tualatin Valley Highway, where many auto and pedestrian accidents have happened. The deaths of bicyclists at Portland intersections has led to the placement of green “bike boxes,” where bikes can stop to be more visible. In spite of these precautions, accidents continue to happen, like the tragic crash that killed bicyclist Kathryn Rickson in Portland this May.

If you have been involved in a crash in an intersection and injured, or if you’ve lost a loved one in an intersection auto accident, you can get help from a personal injury attorney in making sure you get full compensation from your or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Dwyer Williams Potter has experience settling and litigating all kinds of auto accident cases in Portland, including intersection auto accidents. Whether you were in an auto accident, a bicycle accident, or a pedestrian accident, we can help settle your case successfully. One of our expert Portland, Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Portland, Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 888-700-4337

Passengers Benefit from Representation of Auto Accident Attorney

The Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is in the news again – this time for a car accident in Detroit, Michigan. You may remember that the Portland native was in our local news in December 2011, when he lost control and crashed on 3rd and Burnside in Portland, Oregon. Although Suh was eventually ticketed, the accident was not investigated initially, because the crash reportedly involved no injuries or intoxicants. In July 2012, a passenger in Suh’s car at the time of the accident, Saadia Van Winkle, sued Suh for $1 million, for negligence, reckless driving, and emotional distress. Van Winkle said that she was injured in the crash but that Suh intimidated her into keeping quiet to avoid an investigation by the police. According to the Oregonian, the case is set to go to trial in March 2013. Auto Accident Lawyers Portland | Auto Accident Attorney Portland | Portland Injury Lawyers | Oregon

Regardless of how the case plays out in court, it is a reminder that passengers are often injured in car accidents and need medical care, may lose wages while recovering, and suffer emotional pain as well as physical, just as the driver of the car might. If you’re a passenger in a car accident, what are your resources and rights?

All Oregon private auto insurance policies include Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which provides payment for medical bills, lost wages, and even some household expenses. If you are a passenger in a car involved in an accident, the driver’s PIP policy should cover you. If the other driver is liable and you are injured, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy for any injuries, lost wages, or pain and suffering. The insurance company may deny your claim or offer you a settlement that is too low. If that happens, you should retain the services of an auto accident attorney. You have a right to legal representation, just as a driver of the car might.

If you were a passenger in a car involved in a Portland, Oregon auto accident and were injured, we can help. Don’t think that just because you weren’t driving, you have no rights or deserve no compensation. At Dwyer Williams Potter, our attorneys have experience settling and litigating all kinds of auto accident claims, for drivers and passengers. We offer free consultations, so you can discuss your accident and claim with us at any time. One of our expert Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 888-247-9023

Insurance Company Lets Off Brakes on Settlement in Personal Injury Case

It was a normal day at work, and our client, an employee in a Portland, Oregon warehouse, was riding a forklift that a co-worker was driving. The day quickly became abnormal when the brakes went out on the forklift, throwing our client to the ground, where he was then run over by the forklift. Portland Accident Lawyer | Portland Accident Attorney – Portland Injury Lawyers He suffered multiple broken bones and severe cuts.

After one month in the hospital and many months of out-of-hospital recovery, his medical bills were astronomical. In addition, he had a permanent limp and several large scars on his right leg. He was sure that his worker’s compensation insurance would cover his medical expenses and was angered when they denied his claim and offered no settlement. Even more ludicrous was the insurance company’s reason: they said that the driver had done nothing wrong and that our client had not been thrown off but had jumped off on his own. Our client, knowing nothing could be farther from the truth, called an expert Portland, Oregon personal injury attorney at Dwyer Williams Potter.

In the course of investigating our client’s accident, I discovered that the forklift had brake problems several months before our client’s accident. The driver of the forklift, who was also the owner, had tried to fix the brakes himself but had evidently not succeeded. I immediately turned this information over to the insurance company and they reconsidered their position and agreed to negotiate. After negotiations, the company offered our client a fair settlement.

If you’ve been injured at work and need help getting an insurance company to settle your claim, we can help. One of our expert Portland, Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Portland, Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 888-700-4337

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