Sam Hochberg & Associates ? Personal Injury Lawyers ? Motorcycle, Auto, and Bicycle Claims

Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
(503) 224-1106 or (800) 347-1106

Serving Portland, Vancouver, Beaverton, Eugene, Salem,
Camas, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, Tigard, Lake Oswego,
Gresham, Hillsboro, Bend, Redmond, and statewide in
Oregon, Washington & California

An Injury Victim’s Legal Guide & FAQ

What to do In Case of an Accident:

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that one out of every eight licensed drivers will be involved in an accident this year. Should you find yourself to be that one in eight, here are some steps to remember:

  • Stop your vehicle once it is clear, safe and legal.
  • Move the vehicle out of the traveled roadway, if it is clear, safe and legal. (In some states it is against the law to move the vehicle from the place where the accident occurred. Check the ordinance in your area.)
  • Turn off the ignitions of all vehicles involved.
  • Make a first aid check of all persons involved in the accident.
  • Call the police and, if necessary, emergency medical services.
  • Mark the scene of the accident with flares or retro reflective triangles.
  • Gather the names of all persons in the motor vehicles, and people who witnessed the accident.
  • Make a quick diagram of where the vehicle occupants were seated and indicate the vehicles' direction of travel and lane. Also note the date, time and weather conditions.
  • Ask to see the other driver's license and write down the number.
  • Exchange insurance company information. DO NOT discuss "fault" or make statements about the accident to anyone but the police.
  • Get a copy of the police report of the accident from the local precinct.

If You're Hurt In a Traffic Accident:

Be sure to get the CARE you need, starting at the scene of the accident. If police or paramedics say you should take a ride in the ambulance, take the ride. If you're worried about who will pay for it, your own Oregon auto insurance will. If you have any ordinary personal auto policy in Oregon, you already have $15,000 available for your reasonable and necessary medical bills for up to one year. Don't worry about the ambulance bill. GET the care you need.

We had a client some years ago who refused the ambulance after the paramedics urged him to go. He was up and walking around, so he figured he could put up with this pain in his side. Within a few hours, he was rushed into emergency surgery to remove his ruptured kidney. Fortunately for him, he was still in the city and survived the ordeal.

Filing an Accident Report:

Oregon law requires that you file an Accident Report with DMV within 72 hours of a reportable accident, regardless of whether the police were there. If there is property damage of $1,500 or more, or if anyone is injured, the accident is reportable. Failure to do so may result in a suspension of driving privileges, and more. NOTE that if the other vehicle's driver was UNINSURED, your insurance policy will usually require that you file an accident report with the police within 72 hours as well. The report form is available at most police stations and DMV offices in the state, and it may be filed there as well.

AFTER the Accident:


JUST SAY NO. DON'T TALK TO INSURANCE ADJUSTERS. They're skilled at getting you to say things that will hurt you later. Go straight to a lawyer. Remember, the adjuster's job is to find every excuse to pay you as little as possible, whether it's your own insurance company or not. You may be in the right, but your words can end up twisted against you later by the adjuster. You may not even feel hurt right after an accident. You'd probably say that to the adjuster. However, it's not uncommon to feel injured later, and you've already damaged your case. Be safe: Call any good personal injury lawyer for a free phone consultation. Call one who does personal injury work regularly. You can call my law firm, Sam Hochberg & Associates, for a free phone consultation at 503-224-1106 or toll-free at 1-800-347-1106.


For questions about your car or bike insurance, or regarding any kind of accident claim, please feel free to call me, Sam Hochberg, at no charge. 503-224-1106. Outside Portland, call toll-free, to 1-800-347-1106.

CAUTION - A Disclaimer For Your Safety:

Insurance regulations, statutes and case law change all the time – sometimes even daily – and they vary from state to state. The facts of accidents vary a great deal from case to case as well, so you should NOT rely on any information on this website as legal advice. When we represent a client, we conduct a detailed inquiry into the facts of YOUR accident. Sometimes, some small fact that you may think insignificant could, in fact, lead us to give you advice very different than what you may read online.

If you or a loved one has had an injury accident and you want to find out whether there is a case, talk to a lawyer instead of relying on ANYONE'S online information.


1. What, in general, are my legal rights?
Most importantly, you need someone to speak up for your rights amidst the tangle of insurance companies and attorneys. Specific TIMELINES apply to your case, and if you wait too long, you can lose ALL your rights. The legal rights which apply to your case in particular will vary from case to case. Don't wait to call a good personal injury lawyer. At Sam Hochberg & Associates, as with many other fine injury firms, your first consultation with us is free, and free of obligation. Call us at (503) 224-1106, 800-347-1106, or email at today to speak with a member of our firm who can help assess your case and advise you of the options available to you.
2. But the insurance adjuster was so NICE, and said I didn't need a lawyer. Is that true?
No. The job of a good adjuster is to make you feel comfortable, so you won't think you need a lawyer. Insurance adjusters take classes to learn how to manipulate accident victims. They study all personality types and all moods, so they can mine and spin information from you, whether you realize it or not. If you are facing these people without a lawyer, it's too easy to be tricked into saying or doing the wrong thing for your case.

Remember, the insurance adjusters KNOW that you DON'T know personal injury law, and that you probably don't know the real value of the case. The JOB of the adjuster is to pay you as little as they can get away with, as quickly as they can, before the full nature and extent of your injuries is known.

Our advice: Just say NO. Talk to a lawyer BEFORE you talk to the adjuster. In the meantime, we suggest you don't talk to the opposing adjuster at all. But, should they call you or someone else in your household, go ahead and GET info; just don't GIVE any. All you want is the adjuster's name, phone number and your claim number. Then, politely END the conversation, and give the information to your attorney.
3. How do I pay for the services of Sam Hochberg & Associates?
Every case is different, but in general, we handle injury claims on a Contingency Fee basis. This means you don't pay us by the hour; our fee is a percentage of what we are able to obtain for you. Typically, there's no money up front to get started. If we're already representing you on your injury claim, we usually take no fee at all to get your vehicle fixed or "totaled out" by the insurance company.
4. If I hire a lawyer, how long will this take?
Our first job is to contact the insurance companies, so they can't continue trying to talk to you and gathering information about you. Then, in most cases, once you are medically stationary, we get your medical records and begin the process of either negotiating with the insurance company or filing a lawsuit. The timeline is governed by how long it takes for you to reach maximum medical improvement – and THAT'S up to your body.

Once you are stable, if your case can be settled without suit, it often takes as long as another three to six months to gather all the information, prepare a settlement package for the insurance company, negotiate a settlement, and then process the settlement funds. Statistically on a national basis, injured people end up with substantially larger settlements WITH a lawyer, even after attorney fees, than what unrepresented people get. This information is provided by the American Association for Justice.
5. I was on a MOTORCYCLE when I was hurt. Is that a different kind of case?
YES, very much so. Our office has a special emphasis on two-wheeled law, and motorcycle cases in particular. Sam has been a motorcyclist since 1971, owns several bikes, and donates time to work for motorcycle organizations or handle certain biker discrimination cases. We are proud to make the claim that Sam Hochberg & Associates has represented more injured motorcyclists than any other currently practicing law firm in Oregon. As such, we have developed special expertise in handling the many factual and legal issues unique to biker cases. Call us TODAY at (503) 224-1106 for any motorcycle-related questions, including injury claims. See our Motorcycle Lawyer page for more information about motorcycle law.

We are also proud to be associated with AIM, the Aid to Injured Motorcyclists program, since 1987. AIM is a group of lawyers who also RIDE, and who handle cases referred through the Law Office of AIM's founder, Richard M. Lester, in Canoga Park, California. With his practice in California and his cadre of dedicated motorcycling lawyers, Mr. Lester is the sole financial support of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), the ever-growing nationwide bikers' rights group. If you were hurt and if you are an AIM member, please be sure to tell us when you call.
6. How will I make up for the loss of my income?
A lawyer SHOULD be able to help you determine how your condition will affect your income, now and in the future. You are ordinarily entitled to compensation for your loss of income, IF a doctor takes you off work, and IF it is the result of your vehicle accident.

In most Oregon auto cases, we can help you get wage loss and medical benefits from your own insurance, under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Unless you have a bigger policy, the standard PIP benefit is up to $15,000 for up to one year for medical bills, and 70% of your lost earnings, up to $1,250 a month, also up to one year. The wage coverage also requires that a doctor KEEP you off work for 14 consecutive days. Then, it's retroactive to day one. IF your PIP carrier pays as they should, we charge NO attorney fee to help get your PIP coverage activated, unless we have to go to arbitration over any PIP issues. We will also work to get you reimbursement for your income loss that is over and above PIP, but that portion of your lost income is usually included in the settlement that's made at the END of the claim, or by jury or arbitration award, if for some reason the case can't settle.

Don't worry that the other driver's policy isn't paying, and you think that it "isn't right." In Oregon, your own company will usually go after the other driver's insurer, to get back the money they paid to you.

Damages paid for any more serious long-term loss of income or loss of earning capacity requires strong proof we get from your doctors, or from other experts. These are damages over and above PIP benefits, and are included in the main portion of your case, when it is resolved at the end of the claim.
7. Can I get any money up-front from the insurance company?
If you are hurt in an accident, the insurance companies generally won't be paying you anything soon without signing off on the claim, except for property damage. The insurance for the car you were in may pay for certain medical bills and limited lost wages, if you or the vehicle owner have PIP coverage (see below). You shouldn’t consider trying to get any compensation for pain and suffering until your doctor and your lawyer can assess the full extent of all your damages, present and future. Short term money problems will happen if you have no medical insurance and no savings. Your lawyer may be able to at least keep medical creditors at bay until settlement. If you are hurt, call a personal injury lawyer quickly, before you talk to an insurance adjuster.
8. Who will pay all my medical bills?
You are usually entitled to be reimbursed for medical expenses incurred as the result of your accident. An attorney can make sure that every expense is itemized and recovered. Under Oregon law, our firm may be able to assist you in getting your medical bills and a limited amount of wage loss paid to you relatively quickly, under your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, from your own insurer. Every personal auto in Oregon carries it, and they are first in line to be paid. Then, your company will usually seek reimbursement from the insurance company for the "at-fault" driver. To the extent the PIP in the auto you were riding in doesn't cover any medical bills, your own health insurance is usually next in line to pay.
8a. But why should MY auto or health insurance have to pay? Shouldn't the OTHER driver's company pay?
No. Actually, that's why you have PIP. They are first in line to pay, so that you're NOT at the mercy of the opposing carrier who has NO contractual duty to pay. Your standard Oregon PIP coverage is for up to $15,000, for reasonable, necessary medical bills incurred within the first year. Unless we are forced to arbitrate, at Sam Hochberg & Associates, absent unusual circumstances, NO attorney fee is associated with obtaining PIP benefits. Making a PIP claim against your own company is unlikely to affect your insurance rates if the accident wasn't your fault. To the extent the PIP in the auto you were riding in doesn't cover any medical bills, your own health insurance is usually next in line to pay.
8b. I was a passenger and the car had NO insurance at all! Who pays for my medical bills, if there was NO PIP on the car?
The law changes on this from time to time, but ordinarily, your OWN PIP from your own car is next in line to pay for medical bills, IF you have an auto with PIP, or, oddly enough, if you have a RELATIVE in your household who has PIP auto coverage, the relative’s PIP will pay. Your health coverage is also available, after PIP is finished paying, or is “exhausted.”
9. How might my injury affect my family?
In addition to medical expenses and lost wages, you may be entitled to compensation for other expenses resulting from your injury. For example, you may need to pay for child care if your injury prevents you from carrying out your normal family responsibilities. One of our lawyers can help you to consider these kinds of additional expenses so that you and your family are cared for.
10. How do you figure out how much money I should get for my pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is a burden that affects your quality of life. It's no fun. This type of loss is evaluated when it's time to try to settle your claim. You can HELP your lawyer do better for you by documenting your problems: You should regularly and honestly document what you've been going through. Your lawyer should tell you what types of issues should be written about in your pain diary.

As for the value of your pain: It is an abstraction to begin with, when you think about it. You can rub hundred-dollar bills on your injury all day, and it won't make a difference. Ultimately, it is the long-term experience your lawyer brings to you that will guide you in determining the likely range of value for your pain and suffering. At Sam Hochberg & Associates, the combined personal injury experience of our three lawyers exceeds fifty years.

The BEST THING you can do is to be sure you tell your doctors about whatever ails you from your accident, but don't try too hard. Just tell the doctor, but THINK ABOUT IT beforehand. We find people sometimes forget important symptoms, only because they seem petty compared to the more serious pain. You still need to be sure you report all your symptoms, since failure to do so can result in damage to your case.

When an accident victim has a bad fracture, for example, he or she may well have a number of OTHER areas of pain that are overshadowed by the more serious fracture pain. Or, sometimes, people are just shy, and don't want to be perceived as "whiners," so they don't mention some of their symptoms. An injury victim may have had a serious headache throughout the claim that won't go away, but the client doesn't think to mention it until perhaps six months post-accident, after the other, more serious fracture pain has subsided. The problem is that these headaches, although obviously from the wreck, don't appear in the chart notes until six months later, causing the insurance adjusters to question it, and probably to pay less for it, absent some other more compelling fact or evidence to the contrary.

The rule, unfortunately, is that if it isn't in your doctor's chart notes, it didn't happen. Your best bet is to write down all your symptoms ahead of time, before your next medical appointment. Include those symptoms that are already gone, if you are seeing a doctor for the first time.

You should also get all the care you need to be properly diagnosed and to get well. This, too, helps provide some proof of what sort of pain you've had to go through. You should NOT take this as a signal to loudly grumble, grouse and complain to your doctors. You do NOT want to get any more treatment than you really need. Those can be viewed by insurers as attempts at "claim building," to artificially try to increase the value of your claim. Don't do it. Besides being improper and potentially putting you in danger of criminal prosecution for insurance fraud, it also doesn't work. Adjusters are all hip to most of the tricks. Honesty is the best policy, and for most injured clients, it wouldn't even occur to them to exaggerate, since their injuries are already quite apparent.
11. The other driver had NO insurance at all. NOW what?
Every private auto, truck or motorcycle insured with an Oregon policy automatically has at least the state-required minimum of uninsured motorist ("UM") coverage, and sometimes has underinsured ("UIM") coverage as well. UM coverage is very broad. For example, UM usually even covers relatives living in your home who might be injured away from your car, such as while a passenger in an uninsured car. There are TWO IMPORTANT REASONS to hire a lawyer if you have a UM or UIM case: First, Oregon UM law is very complex and constantly changing. Second – and more importantly – when you make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, your OWN company becomes your enemy, just as if they were the opposing insurer! Your own vehicle insurer's very role in UM cases is to "stand in the shoes of the uninsured motorist," and THAT means they will haggle and fight with YOU, over whatever aspect of your case they can pick at. To pull all this off, these insurance companies have billions of dollars and small armies of adjusters and lawyers. That's why YOU need an experienced personal injury lawyer in your corner.
12. What do I HAVE to do, under the law, after an accident?
In Oregon, you must stay at the scene and exchange names and addresses and insurance information. Many people don't know this, but you are also required to render reasonable aid to any severely injured persons, until the police or an ambulance arrives. You must also file a DMV accident report within 72 hours, even if the police made a report, too. Forms are available at any DMV office or police station and by visiting the Oregon DMV website. You must also report to preserve an Uninsured Motorist claim. Under any Oregon policy: Make a report of the accident to the police within 72 hours, or else you could lose your right to such a claim.
13. I was hurt by a HIT and RUN driver. Do I still have a claim?
Yes. In Oregon, a hit and run accident is classified as an uninsured motorist claim. See the info above about "UM" claims. If you were hurt in an accident caused by another vehicle, but that vehicle never made contact with yours, you may STILL have a claim. You must report the accident to the police right away, and within 72 hours, or you could lose your right to make the claim. If there is no contact, Oregon law requires that you have competent evidence that this other vehicle that left the scene is indeed what caused your wreck. The best evidence, and that which is usually required, is that you have a witness who is not also a claimant in the same accident. This kind of UM case is called a "phantom vehicle" claim. In any type of hit and run claim, "phantom" or not, you should still at least talk to a personal injury lawyer.
14. If I decide I want to hire a lawyer, how soon should I start?
Right away. The longer you wait to hire a personal injury lawyer, the more the insurance adjusters have the opportunity to manipulate the situation, and to get you to say things that may later hurt your claim. Once you hire a lawyer, the adjuster is not permitted to talk to you at all, except as your lawyer may allow. Also, hiring a lawyer right away allows the lawyer to gather physical evidence before it's gone and to get witness statements before memories fade.
15. How can I get a RENTAL car?
If the accident is clearly the fault of the other driver, their insurance company will usually pay for a replacement rental vehicle while yours if being fixed. If your car is "totaled," then the rental is usually cut off once the insurance company makes what they regard as their first reasonable offer for the retail fair market value of your vehicle. Car rental companies will require that you carry collision coverage, and will ask you to pay as much as $15 a day or more, just for the coverage! The opposing insurer will usually refuse to pay for this. You don't need to buy that insurance if you have collision coverage on your own policy.

To be safe, ask your agent if your collision policy covers you in your rental. If you have no collision coverage, it's sometimes cheaper to just ADD it to your own policy, even if your car is wrecked, and use it to cover the rental. You can always cancel it later. Your only risk is that you could be liable for any damage you do to the rental car that falls within your normal deductible. If there is no opposing insurance carrier, or if they won't promptly arrange for a rental, ask your own agent if you have any rental car coverage in your policy to pay for the actual rental, not just the collision insurance on the rental.
16. I live outside Oregon and Washington. Can Sam Hochberg & Associates help me?
Yes. We frequently handle serious injury claims and wrongful death actions around the country. We have a network of lawyers in nearly every jurisdiction in the United States and parts of Canada. At no additional cost to you, we can associate these attorneys to assist our office in negotiating your injury claim. These attorneys can also provide you with local offices in your state if you're not near one of our offices. If your claim cannot be settled and a lawsuit must be filed in another state, we CAN also be admitted to practice in your state, just for the purposes of that one case. And, if we can't help you ourselves, we can often refer you to another lawyer in your state who can. Sam Hochberg & Associates is now licensed to practice in California, in addition to Washington and Oregon.
17. I was in a bicycle accident and I have NO Health Insurance. NOW what?
Bicyclists are treated the same as pedestrians, in most respects, under Oregon injury law. For your medical bills, this means that YOUR OWN health insurance is primary, or first in line to pay. If you had no health insurance, then next in line to pay is your OWN Oregon auto insurance policy, under the "PIP" provisions, which are mandatory in Oregon and optional in Washington. Your PIP will pay up to $15,000 in reasonable, necessary medical expenses for up to one year. If you have no auto, but you are NAMED as an insured on someone ELSE'S policy, or even if you just LIVE with a relative who has PIP coverage on an auto, you're still entitled to claim PIP benefits!

If you had NO auto PIP coverage from any resource and no health insurance, then you can still have automatic, no-fault medical coverage under the OTHER DRIVER'S PIP policy. The danger there, however, is that you may have to talk to the opposing insurer in order to get their PIP to pay your bills, and it's always unwise to give any statement to the opposing carrier without a lawyer.

In sum, there may be solutions like this that you're just not aware of. This is also another reason to talk to a lawyer any time you're in a wreck, especially if you were a pedestrian or bicyclist. This area of the law is somewhat complicated. In fact, many insurance people don't even understand how all of this works!
18. I was hit as a pedestrian. Do I get compensated, or am I stuck?
No, you're not stuck at all. First off, your medical bills are paid in the same manner as bicyclists. In most other respects, pedestrian injury claims have the same issues and types of compensation as other traffic cases, except that pedestrian injuries tend to be more severe. If you have one, check your own auto insurance policy, or that of anyone else who may have your name on their policy. Or again, just as with bicyclists, check for relatives in your household. In some circumstances, one of these auto, truck or motorcycle policies may come into play with Uninsured (UM) or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage for your pain and suffering, also known as "general damages."

We advise against handling injury cases involving UM/UIM on your own. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage can be a very thorny area of the law. Many lawyers and insurance agents don't even have all the answers. Don't go it alone. Call Sam Hochberg & Associates at (503) 224-1106, 1-800-347-1106, or any GOOD personal injury law firm, and get help.
19. How can I find out MORE about Sam Hochberg & Associates?
Well, the BEST way to find out more is to schedule an appointment to talk to Sam, Dylan or Brian about your claim. For background, you can always call the Oregon State Bar at (503) 620-0222, and have them pull up Sam Hochberg's file for you to review. Every lawyer's disciplinary record is available to the public. You'll find Sam has a stellar record. In over a quarter-century of his busy law practice, he has had exactly ONE ethical complaint against him. And, the Bar found that complaint to have no merit.

You can also see how Sam has answered a number of legal questions online, mostly related to injury law, at the Law Guru website.

Caution: When you read Sam's answers on LawGuru, remember that EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT, and you should NOT RELY on anything on ANY lawyer's website, other than the general precautions. When we represent a client, we conduct a detailed inquiry into the facts of YOUR accident. Sometimes, some small fact that you may think is insignificant, could in fact lead us to give you advice very different from what you may read online.

We're providing the link to Sam's answers on the Law Guru website, because you might find it interesting to see how Sam handles a variety of questions. His style is probably more straightforward, or more "plain talk" than you might expect from a lawyer. We think you'll find Sam's answers to legal questions a refreshing read! If you have any feedback or questions on what you read there, please feel free to email Sam directly, at
20. I'm hurt alright, but am I being just another greedy jerk by making an injury claim?
Um, NO, you're NOT; although forfeiting a valid claim would seem foolish. Nonetheless, it's amazing how many injury victims we see who insist that they "don't want to make trouble." We've had callers wonder aloud if they're somehow doing something morally "wrong" to make a claim. If you're thinking that way, you've probably never been in a serious accident before, nor had a loved one badly hurt or killed, and had to deal with manipulative, deceptive insurance adjusters. Hiring lawyers doesn’t mean you lose control of your claim, and it need not mean a lawsuit at all.

The truth of the matter is that the insurance companies do whatever they can to pay you as little as they can. Most vehicle insurance companies are out to do you no good. If you're feeling as if you're somehow "taking advantage," this sense of "guilt" may have been implanted by all the propaganda out there, mostly from the insurers themselves.
21. I am NOT SUE-happy, and I don't want to SUE anyone!
Then don't. But why not allow a skilled injury lawyer to NEGOTIATE a settlement for you? You don't have to sue anyone. Then, use your tax-free settlement to give to your favorite charity or political cause, if you feel it’s somehow improper to keep it. Why leave it in the insurer's pocket? Money is set aside to pay people hurt in wrecks; that's the main purpose of auto insurance. A settlement for your injuries is basically YOUR money, usually tax-free. Letting the insurance company just keep it is like throwing money off a tall bridge. You might feel righteous while the dollars flutter down to the river, but when it's all done, you'll wish you hadn't.
22. Can I sue my lawyer for not handling my case properly?
Sometimes, and we do handle some claims against negligent lawyers. It depends on exactly what your lawyer did wrong, and if it rises to the level of professional malpractice. This usually means more than just a "mistake," whether it's lawyer or doctor malpractice. The negligence must be of a sort that most any practitioner similarly situated in practice would not have done the same. This is also called the STANDARD OF CARE that's appropriate for the size of the community, and based in part on how the practitioner holds himself out. You also have to be DAMAGED by the mistake. Otherwise, no harm, no foul. In any type of professional malpractice case, it is common for each side to hire expert witnesses.
23. I slipped at the supermarket and hurt myself. Is that a claim?
It could be. Oregon law is not as "plaintiff-friendly" on "slip and fall" cases as some other states, and the analysis is somewhat complex. As such, at Sam Hochberg & Associates, we generally only accept these cases only when there are fairly substantial injuries. Even then, it still depends on the precise circumstance of your slip or trip and fall. We can help you evaluate the claim and possibly represent you, but again, only where the injury is substantial. Call Sam Hochberg & Associates at (503) 224-1106, or 1-800-347-1106, to discuss your specific situation.
Home | Cases We Handle | Meet our Team | An Injury Victim’s Legal Guide & FAQ
Tips About Your Car or Bike Insurance | News | Links | Forms | Motorcycle Law & Biker’s Rights | Contact Us

Sam Hochberg & Associates • 5603 SW Hood Avenue • Portland, OR 97239 • 503.224.1106 ?
© 2019 Sam Hochberg & Associates. All Rights Reserved. | Legal Disclaimer | Site Map