Personal Injury FAQs

The attorneys at Harris, Wyatt & Amala, LLC are recognized in Salem and throughout the Willamette Valley as highly skilled, effective personal injury and criminal defense litigators. Knowing what to do following an accident or arrest is the first step to protecting your rights and preventing an unfortunate event from severely impacting your life. In the interest of sharing some basic, but important, information, we have compiled this page of frequently asked questions. 

What should I do after an car accident?

When you are in a serious car accident it can be hard to focus on anything other than the physical and emotional aftermath. However, obtaining as much pertinent information as possible is important to ensure a maximum insurance settlement, or to substantiate a lawsuit if necessary. If you are able to, you should gather:

  • Names and contact information of possible witnesses
  • Contact information and insurance information for other drivers and vehicle owners
  • License plate numbers of others involved in the accident, especially if they attempt to flee the scene
  • Details about the accident scene, such as the position of the vehicles, weather and road conditions, traffic signs and speed limits
  • Photographs of the accident scene, if possible

Also, it is important to protect yourself. Do not apologize or admit fault, but report the accident to the police, especially if you believe it was caused by the other driver's carelessness, recklessness, or traffic violation. You should also notify your insurance company and provide the details of the accident.

How much damage does accident insurance cover?

Oregon's mandatory insurance law requires every driver to carry vehicle insurance. The minimum liability insurance required for every driver includes bodily injury and property damage liability for $25,000 per person, $50,000 per crash for bodily injury to others, and $20,000 per crash for damage to the property of others. State law also requires a minimum motor vehicle liability policy covering $15,000 of personal injury protection per person and $25,000 per person and $50,000 per crash for bodily injury of uninsured motorist coverage. Failure to comply with Oregon's insurance regulations will result in significant fines and the potential loss of driving privileges.

What kind of compensation can I expect if I bring a personal injury lawsuit?

If your medical costs exceed the coverage limit imposed by your insurer, you may be able to sue the driver that caused the accident. In Oregon, your comparative negligence will not bar you from recovering from the other driver, provided your negligence accounts for less than half of the total negligence responsible for the accident. In addition to economic damages, which include medical bills and vehicle damage, you may also be able to recover for noneconomic damages, which include emotional distress or pain and suffering caused by your physical injuries.

Criminal Defense FAQs

Can I deny a search of my vehicle?

Generally, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in places like your home and on your body. However, your expectation of privacy is reduced in your car. If the police have probable cause to believe that illegal items (such as drugs or weapons) are in your car, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that, in certain circumstances, law enforcement can search your vehicle without a warrant, but only in the places where the item they are looking for is reasonable to find. In other words, the police cannot search your glove compartment if they are looking for a stolen television set. Law enforcement can also search any container within your car that could possibly contain what they are looking for. This includes a bag or purse.

If a police officer stops my vehicle, am I required to submit to field sobriety tests?

If a police officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, he or she will likely ask you to voluntarily consent to several field sobriety tests. Performing field sobriety tests is voluntary: you have the right to say "no." However, the State will try to use a refusal as evidence against you. Often a police officer will read a statement advising that any refusal to submit to field sobriety testing may be used against you. If the officer orders you to submit to field sobriety testing, the State will attempt to justify the administration of field sobriety tests under the theory of probable cause and exigent--or urgent--circumstances. This theory relies on the fact that blood alcohol concentration dissipates over time, requiring a police officer to act swiftly in order to preserve the evidence of intoxication. Consequently, if a police officer has probable cause to arrest an individual for DUII, then he or she may administer field sobriety testing without voluntary consent.

A DMV hearing allows our attorneys to discover important details regarding the circumstances of your arrest, including whether the arresting officer followed proper procedures. However, the hearing must be requested within ten days of the arrest. Therefore, it is imperative to contact an experienced DUII attorney as soon as possible to in order to start building the groundwork of your defense. Please see Gig Wyatt's DUII website for more information about Oregon's drunk driving laws.