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Oregon Uninsured Motorists

Oregon Uninsured Motorist Lawyer

Attorneys at Clark Law and Associates, LLC, handle uninsured motorists and hit and run/phantom drivers.

What is an uninsured motorist? Any person driving uninsured is an uninsured motorist. In Oregon, every person driving a vehicle must be insured. See ORS 806.010.  Uninsured motorist is often abbreviated UM.

I don’t have “full coverage” insurance in Oregon, do I still have uninsured motorist protection?  If you have an Oregon insurance policy and are injured by an uninsured motorist, you may have uninsured motorist coverage equal to your liability coverage for your bodily injuries, unless you signed a specific waiver disavowing uninsured motorist coverage in accordance with statutory requirements.  See ORS 742.502.  Oregon does not require uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD).  You will need to check your policy to see what your insurance company is required to pay.  “Full coverage” is a phrase that often means having insurance for one’s own vehicle damage if one is at-fault for the accident.  Thus, “full coverage” is not a term that exactly applies to an uninsured motorist claim.

Why should I drive only while insured?

1)  Suspension of Driving Privileges:  Under ORS 809.417(2), a person’s driving privileges may be suspended for driving without insurance if involved in an accident.
2)  Increased Insurance Rates:  You could be required to maintain proof of insurance and your insurance rates may increase. See ORS 806.010(4)
3)  Vulnerability to Lawsuits:  If you are in a vehicle accident that is your fault, you could be sued and your assets and property could be subject to collections.
4)  No Non-Economic Damages:  If you are driving while uninsured and you are in a vehicle accident that is the fault of another, you are prohibited from collecting non-economic damages under ORS 31.715. However, under ORS 31.715 an exception may apply if you were covered by insurance in the last 180 days and you were not otherwise driving without insurance.

What is a phantom vehicle? A phantom vehicle is a vehicle that causes damage to an insured vehicle without physical contact between the vehicles.  A phantom driver is the unknown person driving the phantom vehicle.  See 742.508(5)(b).  An example would be if someone suddenly turns in front of your vehicle and in your attempt to avoid the collision, your vehicle spins out of control and you crash into a tree.

What should I do if a phantom vehicle causes me to get into an accident?  Obtain independent witness information and promptly make a police report and a report to your insurance company.  While the Oregon Statute requires that you make a police report within 72 hours after a phantom vehicle incident and 30 days to make a recorded statement to your insurance company, we recommend that you report any phantom vehicle incident sooner to assure that your claim is preserved.  See ORS 742.508(5)(b)(A), (B), and (C).

What is a hit and run vehicle?  A hit and run vehicle causes physical damage to a vehicle, person(s) or property and then leaves the accident scene without exchanging their license and insurance information.

What should I do if I am a victim of a hit and run?  If you can, get the license plate number, a description of the vehicle and a description of the driver.  Also, obtain contact information of any witnesses.  Call the police.  If the police do not come, preserve any evidence that the hit and run driver left behind, such as broken car parts on the street that belong to his/her vehicle.  Preserve and document any paint transfers from the hit and run vehicle to your vehicle.  Promptly make a police report and report the incident to your insurance company.

If I hit a parked car and leave the scene what can happen to me?  You can be criminally charged with failure to perform the duties of a driver when property is damaged, which is a class a misdemeanor.  See ORS 811.700.  The maximum penalty is one year in jail and a $6,250.00 fine.  You may also face a license suspension of 90 days for the first offense.  Oregon Suspension Guide 

What can happen to me if I hit a person with my vehicle and flee the scene?  You can be charged with a class B or C felony depending on the amount of injury you cause the person and can have your license suspended.  See ORS 811.705

What should I do if I hit a parked vehicle?   You should look for the person who owns the vehicle.  If you cannot find the vehicle owner, you are required to write your name and address, and insurance information on the note, and a brief description of what happened.  See ORS 811.700(1)(B).

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