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Vancouver, Washington

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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
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No insurance means no recovery

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Almost all states require drivers carry insurance while using the roads and highways. Failing to carry insurance can result in a hefty fine and even eventual suspension of your license. But some states carry it even further. In Oregon, if you drive without insurance, you may lose the right to recover damages if hit by another driver. Referred to as the “pay to play” rule in the insurance industry, the law stops certain uninsured accident victims from recovering non-economic damages if injured in a car accident. This is true even if the accident was clearly the fault of the other driver. The centuries old tort law in our country makes people responsible for their actions. If we act carelessly and someone is injured as a result, we are required to pay for the person’s medical bills, lost wages and an additional sum to compensate the person for what the injury did to their life. Referred to as non-economic damages, this compensation is for things like permanent health problems, interference with career plans, scarring, pain, discomfort and all the negative consequences of having to live with an injury. With Oregon’s law however, if you injure someone on the highway who doesn’t have insurance, you may get away with only having to pay their medical bills. There are several exceptions to the law. Intoxication by the guilty driver or proof the accident victim had insurance sometime within the previous six months are examples. However, the law has the biggest impact on people too poor to afford insurance. Now instead of just receiving a ticket if they drive without insurance, they lose the right to recover damages if someone injures them as well.