What Happens if I’m Physically Disabled as a Result of Personal Injuries from a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Thousands of motor vehicle accidents occur around the country every day, and Oregon drivers are not spared. Collisions range from those involving small scooters and motorcycles up to automobiles, pickup trucks, and semi-trucks.

Those who are most fortunate walk away with only scrapes and bruises. Others suffer more serious injuries, but at least they fully recover in the long run. Then, there are those victims who receive disabling injuries and will never fully regain their health. They may live a life with constant pain or limitations on the functionality of different parts of their body - which brings us to the question to be discussed in this article.

What happens if a person is physically disabled as a result of a motor vehicle accident?

“Disability” is a Broad Term

First, it’s best to note that the terms “disability” and “disabled” are broad terms that can mean different things under different circumstances. While our primary focus will be on an injured victim’s ability to recover for disabling injuries from negligent drivers, it’s worthwhile to note some examples of other benefits that may be recovered when disability is suffered.

  • United States Government Programs - Perhaps the most common use of “disability” comes when people discuss disability benefits under federal law. The federal government has two disability programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To recover under these programs, the applicant must meet the requirements and definitions as set out by those federal laws.
  • Private Disability Insurance – Many people purchase both short-term and long-term disability insurance policies. Some people receive such policies as an employment benefit. These policies will pay an amount as specified by the policy provisions if an insured meets the policy’s definition of “disabled” or “disability.” Therefore, the policy must be referenced to determine what is required to receive benefits.
  • Work-Related Disability – Some injuries in motor vehicle crashes are work-related, and recovery may be possible through the Oregon worker’s compensation system. There is a whole body of law that determines when and how much an injured worker can receive.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance – In some cases, a person who has purchased long-term care insurance may be entitled to benefits under the policy.
  • Miscellaneous – In some instances, the state of Oregon may supply benefits.

Compensatory Damages Recovered by Lawsuit

In Oregon, when a driver negligently causes an accident, the injured victim is entitled to recover both economic and non-economic damages. The concept of disability can apply to both types. We’ll give some examples to illustrate the point.

Economic damages result from objectively verifiable monetary losses, such as hospital and other medical bills. One can easily see how a person disabled by a motor vehicle accident would incur such expenses. It is also very common for those suffering disabilities to need continuing services, such as nursing and rehabilitative services.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more difficult to value, but are certainly implicated by injuries resulting in disability. Common examples include physical pain and mental suffering. Victims suffering disability due to another driver’s negligence are entitled to recover such damages.

Call with Questions

If you have been injured in an accident, please call us with any questions you might have concerning your rights. We will be happy to answer them. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield routinely work with accident victims who have suffered disability as a result of their accidents.

Not only can we help you understand your rights, but if you need assistance, we can help you prepare a case that makes clear your level of disability so that the insurance company understands it for the purpose of settlement, or that a jury understands at a trial. We strongly believe that by fighting for the rights of victims and holding wrongdoers accountable, we can make Oregon safer for everyone.


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