Pick Up Truck Runs Over Man In Parking Lot
On a beautiful Oregon Spring day, Josh* stopped at a small market and was standing outside in the store parking lot, next to his motorcycle. A mentally challenged young man got into his father’s pickup truck, circled in the parking lot, and ran over Josh, dragging him under the truck.
The market had surveillance video that captured the incident. Screen shots from the video show Josh standing outside the market, then being run over by the truck, then being helped by bystanders. An ambulance rushed Josh to the nearest hospital, with paramedics noting bleeding from the back of Josh’s head, and that he could not remember anything from the actual event, showing symptoms of a brain injury.
Josh was hospitalized for nine days. His initial diagnoses included:
- Fractured right mandible (jawbone)
- Anterior C5 vertebral body fracture (broken neck)
- L5 compression fracture (broken back)
- Left coracoid fracture (broken shoulder)
- Multiple broken ribs
- Sternal fracture (broken breastbone)
- Multiple teeth fractures
- Left elbow laceration with bone exposure
Because of the complexity of the jaw injuries, Josh was eventually transferred to a Level I trauma hospital in Portland. After treatment there, Josh was allowed to return to his home to start the long process of specialized medical and dental treatment required by his extensive injuries. In the many following months, Josh required care from orthopedists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, a prosthodontist, a neurosurgeon, a dentist, physical therapists, and an orthodontist.
As is often the case with serious injuries, there were complications and setbacks. After coming home from the hospitals, Josh was basically stuck in a chair; he could not drive, bike, ride a motorcycle, or work out. At home, his wife had to assist with simple tasks, such as moving objects around the house, getting dressed, and getting showered. The projects Josh was doing had to be put on hold, including rebuilding their trailer and boat. Josh has a well-maintained home, but yard work suffered. Josh’s activities such as cutting firewood for his church and playing guitar had to be put off. Even now, long after the event, while Josh strives to be positive, he still has pain and limitations, and is no longer his former physical self.
Josh’s case is a reminder of the inadequacy of Oregon’s minimum auto insurance laws, which have not been updated in almost two decades. Oregon statutes require only a “25/50″ liability policy for personal injury: a maximum of $25,000 for any one injured person, up to a total of $50,000 for multiple people injured in the same incident. That kind of coverage can be used up on hospital bills on just the first day of an injury.
His case is also a reminder of the importance of having adequate underinsured motorist coverage. When you are hurt because of the negligence of the driver of another auto, your underinsured motorist coverage can be available to help cover losses beyond what the other driver’s insurance covers. Oregon’s required minimum for underinsured motorist coverage is that same “25/50″ amount, which also has not been updated for ages. But there is something you can do about this: you can ask your agent to get you higher underinsured motorist coverage limits, which surprisingly don’t cost that much more.
Finally, Josh’s case is also a reminder of how the injured person’s own insurance company’s interests are adverse to the injured person in an underinsured motorist claim. People often ask, “I’ve paid premiums for years to my own insurance company, why don’t they just pay?” We should think of underinsured motorist coverage as more like buying additional coverage for the other driver. It’s a fund potentially available to help, but you still have to expect to fight to get treated fairly.
*Not his real name; changed to protect his privacy.
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