Over 60,000 residents of Vancouver commute each workday to jobs in Portland Oregon. The commute can be dreadful, sometimes taking as much as an hour or more to reach a destination. Although a new bridge is in the planning stage, any relief is easily a year of more away. In the meantime, depending on the time of day, bumper-to-bumper traffic is the rule. As often happens in this type of traffic, someone fails to pay attention to the car ahead. Maybe a cell phone or switching a CD on the sound system takes their eyes off the road for a moment. An auto collision with the vehicle ahead occurs. Sometimes people are injured. When this happens, at least for Vancouver residents, the law of two different states can be triggered. If the collision occurred in Oregon, the tort laws of the state of Oregon apply. One law unique to Oregon is the one precluding any pain and suffering damages if the car you were driving wasn’t insured. In this situation, Oregon law takes away the right of any injury victim to recover anything more than medical bills and wage loss. Any damages for pain, suffering or the effect the collision had on their life or health are lost. Although there are some exceptions to the rule, the statute was declared constitutional recently by the Oregon Supreme Court. In Washington, there is no such law. To make it more confusing, if you are a Vancouver resident and do carry insurance on your car, the laws of the state of Washington apply if any dispute arises with your insurance company, even though the collision was in Oregon. In many respects, Washington has more favorable insurance rules than their neighbor to the south, even though one could argue Oregon has more favorable tort laws. One interesting observation from close to 30 years of handling accident claims for both Oregon and Washington residents – many insurance adjustors don’t understand the rules. It is very common to see insurance adjustors tell accident victims the law where the collision occurred governs any dispute under the insurance policy. This bad advice can sometimes result in a consumer getting less than what they are entitled.
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