New Oregon PIP Insurance Changes Benefit The Injured Victim

Late last year, Oregon legislature passed a bill to drastically alter and improve Oregon Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which went into effect January 1, 2016. There are two main changes we will see take place; a Portland accident attorney Travis Mayor claims the Oregon PIP insurance changes are significant for personal injury cases for various reasons. Because, not all damages for medical bills and lost income have been incurred within the current defined time limits, extending the time of the Oregon PIP insurance benefits up to 24 months after the accident and delaying insurance company reimbursements will allow drivers to recover proper resources from serious accidents in Oregon.

What Exactly are the Oregon PIP Insurance Changes?

Before this bill, if you were in a serious accident in Oregon, an insurance company is dubbed first in line to be reimbursed, before non-economic damages are paid, which reduces the amount of money for the injured victim drastically. With the new Oregon PIP insurance changes, PIP carriers are now reprioritized; the PIP Make Whole rule policy will require that the insurance company be paid on the victim’s behalf after all economic and noneconomic damages have been defined and paid. Ultimately, an injured victim will only reimburse the PIP carrier if the recovery amount exceeds both economic and noneconomic damages. The goal with this is to change in priority from the insurance company to the injured victim.
Secondly, changes in the Oregon PIP insurance extends medical coverage expenses from 12 months to 24 months after an accident. After a minor motor vehicle accident in Portland and throughout Oregon, a 12 month medical coverage period is generally a sufficient amount of time for an injured victim to be covered. However, catastrophic events that result in devastating injuries, like TBI or spinal cord injuries, have a much longer recovery processes. Medical expenses for these accidents can far exceed 12 months, which leaves the payment responsibilities on the injured victim. However, extending the PIP medical payments allows additional time for patients to recover.

What is Next for Oregon Drivers?

Lawmakers are taking the necessary steps to protect drivers in Oregon with Oregon Senate Bill 411, but as a driver, there are a few things to do in order to benefit. While most Oregon PIP carriers say companies will implement these Oregon PIP insurance changes automatically, Travis Mayor, a trusted personal injury attorney in Portland, advises Oregon drivers to reissue or renew their policy immediately because exclusions will remain in the policy until a driver actually renews it. If you were involved in an accident after January 1, 2016, the Oregon PIP insurance changes apply to your case.

How to Plan for Divorce in Arizona

Going through a divorce is never easy and no amount of preparation can change that.  However, a tactical approach to the process, especially in regards to your finances, can help mitigate some of the damage and keep you on your feet.

Before the petition for dissolution is signed, you can start taking steps towards financial independence.  Phoenix divorce attorney DeeAn Gillespie offers these tips to prepare financially for a divorce.

1. Set up your own bank account.

Open a new bank account in your name only.  This will be an account that your spouse cannot access. Under Arizona’s marital property laws, you may take your half of the marital community’s cash and direct deposit that amount into your new bank account.

 

2. Open your own credit card account.

Open a new credit card account in your name only. Use the new card with restraint and pay off charges every month to help establish and raise your personal credit score. Next, consider canceling any credit cards or charge cards that are no longer in use, but are in both your names.

 

3. Prepare your complete financial picture.

You must provide a complete family financial picture for the divorce, so make copies of documents going back at least 12 months.  When going through them, if you are unsure about whether it is important, copy it anyway.  It is far better to have too much info than not enough.  Also, if you play to leave the marital residence, be sure to make copies of everything BEFORE you leave the home.  You may not have an opportunity to do it once you have left.

Here is a (general, not comprehensive) checklist of the financial documents you should copy for your case:

  •  Pay stubs and income verifications
  •  State and federal tax returns for the prior three reporting years
  •  Vehicle certificates of title and any loans thereon
  •  Real property and any mortgages, deeds of trust, or land contracts thereon
  •  Credit card and charge card accounts
  •  Insurance policies (note beneficiary designations)
  •  Investment accounts
  •  Pension and retirement accounts
  •  Bank and credit union accounts
  •  Business operations records

Prepare a new budget that accurately reflects your new living costs and – if you have children – your anticipated child related expenditures.  Be sure to keep all this information secure and safe.

4. Take precautions to protect your privacy and security.

Change the passwords on all of your financial accounts. Change all of your existing email account passwords, too. (But save any emails from your spouse or from others that are relevant to your divorce.) For privileged communications with your attorney, and there will be many as email is an extremely important method of communication during a divorce, open a new secure email account in your name only. If at any time you suspect your spouse of having acquired your password, then change it immediately and notify your attorney of the possible privacy breach.

Be extremely wary of your social media activity.  Anything that you say can be used against you.  In fact, one third of divorce cases mention the word Facebook at some point.  If you can’t trust yourself on social media channels, just stay off them.

 

5. Prepare for custody of your children.

Both spouses need to create a detailed parenting plan for you and your children.  Create a journal that chronicles your kids and your parenting activity on a daily weekly, and monthly basis.  You need to decide who the kids will live with. Will you share custody with their mother? How often will they be visited by the non-custodial parent? How will the children’s expenses be paid? Decisions must also be made over their healthcare, education, religion, and welfare.

If you do not plan to seek primary custody, then focus on maximizing your parenting time and staying involved with your children.

 

 

6. Prepare an inventory of all your personal property.

When going through a divorce, you must take inventory of all your personal property.  The easiest way to do this is to go room by room and take photos and create a list.  Be sure to mark whether the property is community or separate.  Sometimes people do irrational things to others property during divorce, so take items you deem as irreplaceable – i.e. family photos, heirlooms, or keepsakes – with you and put them in a secure location.  Be sure to take photos and make notes of where they are.

 

7. Prepare your contact list of important people.

Get involved – if you aren’t already – in your children’s lives.  Create a list of people involved in their day to day lives such as friends and their parents, teachers, advisors, coaches, babysitters, ect.  Make a list of their names, roles, and contact information.  While you are at it, do the same for all the people involved in your family and financial life like accountants, family members, neighbors, and insurance agents.

Taking these steps can greatly reduce the financial impact of a divorce.  Couple these strategies with asking the right questions when hiring an attorney and you will put yourself ahead of the proverbial curve in your divorce.

 

Tesla Motors Challenges Model S Lemon Law Claims

Tesla Motors is challenging a lemon law claim made by a Wisconsin attorney who calls himself the “King of Lemon Laws”. Tesla released a statement on their blog stating that the attorney, Vince Megna, misrepresented the facts of the case and implies that the Model S in question had been tampered with. In the blog post Tesla re-affirms their commitment to customer service and compliance with lemon laws.

In a video released by Megna, that stars himself alongside a cardboard cut out of George Clooney, he states that the vehicle spent 66 day in a service center for repairs to faulty door handles, fuses and a battery that would not hold a charge. He also claims that his client, retired Milwaukee doctor Robert Montgomery, demanded on three separate occasions a lemon-law buy back from Tesla. Tesla Motors denies these claims, and points out that the company was actually working with Montgomery to resolve the issues up until the lawsuit was filed.

Tesla is claiming that the problems with the car in question have “elusive origins” implying that the vehicle may have been tampered with. Tesla mechanics could not replicate the issue that Montgomery was having with the door handles but did replace them. Once replaced, Montgomery claimed that they were still faulty and Tesla offered to fix them again. The issue with the fuses is also suspect according to Tesla, whose engineers discovered that the cars front trunk, where the fuse box is located, had “been opened immediately before the fuse failure on each of these occasions”.

The blog post from Tesla states “there are good reasons to be skeptical of the lawyer’s motivations” and also points out that he filed a lemon law claim last year against Volvo on behalf of the same client.

Lemon laws vary from state to state and some states even have laws that cover new as well as used cars. There are tons of valuable resources out there that detail the laws for each state. This page for example details the lemon laws in California including what consumers need to know if they think they got a lemon.

Student Debt Crisis: The War on Education

Student Debt Crisis – All-time High, All-time Lows

asset protection, student debt
The Student Debt Crisis is a Conundrum requiring about $100k to even consider

Many of you are already at least a little aware of the growing worries surrounding the student debt crisis or of the outcry of indignation from recent graduates drowning in debt, crying on the internet and just suffering in general. Having surpassed the $1 trillion mark and growing, Student debt has overtaken credit card lending as a larger source of personal debt in the United States. This is remarkable but what is extraordinary, is that while many Americans can file for bankruptcy or utilize various asset protection programs to help clear themselves of crushing credit card debt, Students CAN NOT!

One wonders why the situation has gotten this bad, or even how. In a culture where education is lauded as everything, why has it become so impossible for those who pursue it to enjoy life? Well with the costs of higher education (and the interest rates required to attend…) constantly on the rise, while the actual value of that degree is constantly declining; it is not hard to imagine why so many young adults are being overwhelmed and pushed to the brink of homelessness or worse.

And it doesn’t stop there; student loan creditors are given more collection power than any other type of lender in the history of the United States. In fact not even death, an attractive alternative to some, is a solution or protection from student loan creditors. Students in default may not file for bankruptcy, or asset protection. Their wages are vulnerable to garnishment (past the extent of livability), their property and trusts susceptible to seizure, even social security is not sacred in the eyes of student debt.

student debt, asset protection
The Crushing Nature of Student Debt

Money: Nowhere to Hide

YES, the favorite shelters of America’s rich and wealthy – asset protection, limiting liability, trusts, 401k and social security are no friends to our educated middle and poorer classes under federal law. The American Dream is dangerously close to revealing it’s dark side: when education becomes attainable only at the cost of your sanity, blood, sweat & tears it will be as undesirable as it is unattainable and there will be no middle class, no little pink house for you are me… Which, may not be the most troubling part about all of this, just consider if it was bad when American’s were unable to pay their mortgages… what happens when the best and brightest of America’s tomorrow defaults on more than $1 trillion of federal debt and is homeless and either unable or unwilling to help make things better…
By Drew Davis

The Ultimate Guide To Bicycle Safety

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute states that there are somewhere between 73 and 85 million cyclists in the United States.  In 2006 over 700 people were killed in accidents involving cyclists and motorists.  An estimated 50,000 plus people are seriously injured every year as a result of bicycle accidents every year.  Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in New York.  Commuter cycling has increased by more than 25% between the years 2008 and 2009 and more than doubled since 2005.  It is estimated by the New York City Department of Health that over a half million New Yorkers ride bikes.  This is bike safety is important now more than ever.  It is important for both cyclists and motorists to know the rules of the road and follow the laws and regulations that are here for our protection.  Below is a guide to bike safety that everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car or gets on a bike should read and follow, for all of our sake. 

Bicycle Safety Infographic

Texting Behind the Wheel is More Dangerous than Drunk Driving

America’s growing epidemic, distracted driving, is killing people. Texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, according to a study carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Motorists engage in secondary behavior during more than half of their time spent driving – an action that is a factor in more than one million national car crashes and 16% of fatal accidents annually. And texting is the number one distracted driving activity by a long-shot. “We have recently seen a large influx of accidents that involve a driver that was distracted by the use of a cell phone” says Las Vegas attorney William Brim. With technology at drivers’ fingertips, drivers are becoming more and more tempted to send and read quick text messages that they, by-and-large, assume to be harmless. The truth is, texting while driving takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds and increases the chances of a crash by 23 percent. To put that into perspective, if a vehicle is traveling at 55mph, the average driver doesn’t look at the road for about the length of an entire football field while composing and sending a text.

With texting and driving becoming a frighteningly common behavior, various organizations and researchers have been carrying out tests to determine just how dangerous the habit is. Car and Driver Magazine performed an experiment to document those dangers, in comparison with the widely known risky activity of drunk driving. During the experiment, cars were rigged with a red light to alert drivers when to brake. The magazine tested how long it would take to hit the brakes when sober, when legally impaired at a BAC level of .08, when reading an e-mail and when sending a text. Sober, focused drivers took an average of 0.54 seconds to brake. For legally drunk drivers four feet needed to be added. An additional 36 feet was necessary for reading an e-mail, and a whopping additional 70 feet was needed to send a text.

In a different experiment reported in the journal of Traffic Injury Prevention, participants either used a cell phone while driving or consumed alcohol beforehand. It should be noted that habitual drinkers and people who had never consumed alcohol before were not allowed to participate in the experiment. In the driving simulation, drivers were asked to stay in the center or left lane and maintain a speed of 37-50mph. Scientists found that when the participants texted with their phones they drove with a comparable BAC of 1.0.

Another test conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory in London found that drivers who texted had slower response times, were more likely to drift in and out of lanes and even drove worse than drivers who were high on marijuana. The study found that reaction times for texting drivers were 35% worse than those of drivers with no distractions.

Ten states plus D.C. prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones, 32 states and D.C. forbid novice from using cell phones and 39 states plus D.C. prohibit all drivers from texting.

Making Sure Your Teen is Safe Behind the Wheel

Driving is one of the most dangerous activities and causes more injuries and deaths than anything else in the United States. Driving is very dangerous even for experienced, seasoned drivers. Bradley Parker of a Dallas accident law firm states that “The staggering facts are that over 100 people die every single day due to vehicle accidents in the United States.” For teenagers who are new to driving, it’s even far more dangerous, both for themselves and others on the road. The main reason for teenagers’ poor safety record is their lack of experience. New drivers do not know how to properly handle their car while recognizing and reacting appropriately to hazardous situations like driving in poor weather conditions.

The only way parents of teenagers can make sure their children are prepared to face the dangers of driving is to take proper steps in teaching them how to safely operate an automobile. Here are some good guidelines and instructions, parents or guardians, can teach their children to keep them safe on the road.

1. Necessitate your new teen driver to take a safety course before getting behind the wheel. These days, passing your driver’s license test basically consists of successfully making left and right turns at low rates of speed, stopping at intersections controlled by stoplights, and parking the car. If parents really want to give their teenage driver a fighting chance on the roads today they should sign them up for a safety class or two.

2. Make certain the car your teen will be driving is safe and roadworthy. In a lot of cases a teenager’s first car is a hand-me-down. Make sure that this used car your child will be driving has working breaks, four new tires and is properly aligned.

3. Make sure that your teen makes some type of meaningful financial contribution to their driving privilege. Teenagers are more likely to take better care of their cars and in turn drive more carefully when they have spent a substantial amount of their own money.

4. Before allowing your teen to drive, make sure they show that they can handle frustration without losing his or her temper. Teenagers that lose their tempers easily are much more likely to lose it behind the wheel and feel the negative effects of “road rage”, which is never safe.

5. Set a good example for your teenager. As a parent you are one of the most powerful role models for your children. No speeding, no drinking and driving, no texting while driving, no weaving in and out of traffic, and always wear your seat belt.

6. Give your teenager extra practice behind the wheel. Many schools across the U.S. are putting an end to driver’s education classes and programs because of budget cuts. The driver’s-ed classes that are still implemented typically only provide a total of six hours on-the-road training when the number that is necessary to become realistically capable is closer to fifty hours.

Will Increase in Traffic Fatalities Increase Insurance Rates?

This is the first time in the past seven years that more people died in the United States in automobile accidents then the year before.  Before 2012 the last seven years in the United States witnessed a decrease in auto accident fatalities every year.  This surge of road deaths comes during increased awareness of distracted driving and could and most likely will affect auto insurance rates if this increase in deaths is sustained.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that traffic fatalities in the United States increased by 5.3 percent in 2012.  The NHTSA states that 30,080 people died on the roadways in the U.S. during 2012, reaching the highest death toll since 2008 when the U.S. had 8 million fewer people than in 2012.  It is believed that this rise in traffic deaths is result of the upsurge of distracted driving and driving associated with the improving economy.

Many people in the insurance industry believe there is no way insurance rates will not be affected as traffic fatalities increase.  The chief actuary at West Des Moines-based GuideOne Insurance, Gilbert Korthals, stated “if we begin to see a trend where traffic fatalities are increasing year after year, this is most likely trigger rates increasing”.

Even though the NHTSA’s report did not attempt to identify the cause of this increase in traffic deaths, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has publicly stressed the hazards of distracted driving and its effect on accident fatalities.  A different National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report was released a month ago estimating that more than 600,000 drivers in the U.S. are instantaneously using their cellphones or operating some form of electronic device while driving at any given time during the day.  This report also states that over 3,300 people died and 387,000 injured in 2011 as a result of distracted driving.

Seven of the nine geographic regions in the U.S. recorded increases in 2012 in the federal traffic fatality study, with the Northeast region recording a 15 percent uptick. Deaths fell by 1 percent in the New York-New-Jersey-Pennsylvania region and in the Pacific Northwest. Traffic fatalities rose 5 percent in the Midwest region that includes Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.  It is important to contact an experienced accident attorney in your area if you or someone you love is involved in any type of auto accident.

 

Arizona Bicycle Laws

As a whole, states are cracking down on bicycle law enforcement and the nation’s rate of cyclist fatalities has declined as a result. In 2010 there were more than a hundred less bicycle fatalities than in 2001. Unfortunately, the state of Arizona remains one of the most dangerous for cyclists. In 2010 the state saw 19 bicycle fatalities and more than 1,500 bicycle injuries.

Half of bicycle accidents in Arizona occur because either the bicyclist or the motorist failed to yield. Half of all bicycle accidents occur when a car is turning right, mostly to be attributed to “right on red” allowances. Half of the accidents involved a bicycle traveling against traffic. A third of bicycle accidents occur when a bicycle is on the sidewalk. Although riding on the sidewalk is legal as long as the cyclist is not surpassing the speed of foot travel, it is not the safest way to travel. When a bicyclist is riding on the sidewalk they allow themselves less room to maneuver. Also, suddenly entering the road from the sidewalk can catch motorists off guard.

Arizona’s Department of Transportation has taken notice of the dangers that the state’s roads pose to bicyclists, and has created a plan to ensure cyclist safety. ADOT’s bicycle safety action plan was introduced in late 2010 and strives to reduce bicycle fatalities by 12% by the year 2018. The plan will install 4-ft wide shoulders on all highway projects, new “wrong way” signs on bike lanes, include more information about bicyclists on the driver’s written exam, mandate taillights at night and urge police to enforce the “3 ft” following clearance law.

A bicycle is defined as a device that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride. In Arizona, as in any other state, a bicycle is legally treated as a vehicle. Cyclists have the same rights on the road as motorists, and must obey by the same traffic laws as other vehicles. This includes stopping for stop signs and red lights, adhering to certain speed limits and the flow of traffic, using lights at night and yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway. In addition, any traffic violation committed on a bicycle can affect the cyclist’s driving record.

Bicyclists are required to use hand and arm signals from the left side of the bicycle. For a left turn, the cyclist’s hand and arm must be extended horizontally. When turning right, the hand and arm must be extended upward. To stop or decrease speed, cyclists are expected to lift their hand up and extend their arm downward. Cyclists are advised to use a blinking taillight when riding at night, and never to ride on the sidewalk or against traffic. Although Arizona does not have any helmet law in place, cyclists are always encouraged to wear a helmet. Helmet usage decreases the risk of serious head injury by 80 percent.

 

 

MOTORCYCLE SAFETY: How Far We Have Come

Since the first motorcycle hit the streets in 1885 there have been major transitions in rider gear, motorcycle design and safety laws. Improvements in safety equipment and evolution of safety laws are keeping more riders safe.

Helmets


Motorcycle helmets became a heated topic of discussion after T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) suffered a fatal motorcycle crash in 1935. The accident prompted research about brain injuries, and Lawrence’s neurosurgeon, Hugh Cairns’ findings eventually lead to the first motorcycle crash helmet. The first patent for a motorcycle helmet was submitted in 1953 by University of Southern California Professor C.F. “Red” Lombard.

The first helmets to be manufactured were made with leather. Though this material didn’t do much for major-impact injuries, it helped protect riders from abrasions and low-impact wounds. In the 1960’s helmets were transformed, and exteriors were made of fiberglass with interiors that were lined with foam or cork.

In 1967 the federal government required states to enact helmet laws in order to increase motorcycle helmet usage. The incentive was that the more stringent the laws, the more likely states were to qualify for certain federal safety programs and highway construction funds. By the 1970’s almost every state had universal motorcycle helmet laws, however in 1976 states succeeded in getting Congress to stop the Department of Transportation from demanding that states without helmet laws are penalized.

There are currently no mandatory helmet laws, and legislation varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Today 23 states that have motorcycle helmet laws that cover all low-power cycles. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have laws that cover some low-power cycles. Modern helmets are made of plastic, carbon fiber or Kevlar, have flip-up visors to shield the face, and are designed to protect riders from head and brain injuries, as well as scrapes and lesions.

Protective Gear

With the exception of the helmet, today’s thick leather motorcycle jacket is the most recognizable characteristic of a rider. Upon the invention of the motorcycle, most riders wore long, heavy jackets. When military personnel began using motorcycles during World War I the long dusters were replaced with short jackets in order to eliminate the chance of them getting caught in the wheels or spokes. Today, there are even some suits that come equipped with built-in airbag systems that inflate in the event of an accident.

Unlike Europe, the United States has not yet mandated safety gear standards when it comes to jackets, pants, boots and gloves.

Motorcycle Design

The improvements in motorcycle design safety over the years are impressive. Current motorcycles have better brakes, greater stability, more responsive steering, more effective controls, airbags, leg protectors, tire quality, improved ergonomics and better reliability than those of any previous decade.

Even with the impressive innovation in motorcycle safety features and technology, we still have a long way to go. Motorcycle rider fatality rates go up year after year, and riders continue to throw caution to the wind when on the open road. Despite state laws, all riders are encouraged to exercise caution, to ride with the flow of traffic and to always wear a helmet.

A special thanks to The Law Office Of Mann & Elias, a Los Angeles motorcycle accident law firm, for making this post a possibility.