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Car Crashes In Oregon No Accident: Lawmaker Proposes Change To Reflect How Others Are At Fault

The word ‘accident’ is frequently used to describe car crashes in Oregon. However, it does not quite fit. While they generally occur unintentionally, the fact is that reckless and negligent actions or inactions on the part of others are typically to blame. Our Oregon car accident attorneys explain more about negligence, the role it plays in filing a claim, and what one lawmaker proposes to better reflect the circumstances and put the blame where it belongs.  

Proposed House Bill Seeks to Strike The Word ‘Accident’ From State Statutes

Prior to being elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, Jeff Helfrich (R-52), was a sergeant with the Portland Police Bureau. In his 25-year career, he saw more than his share of motor vehicle accidents and the harm they caused to drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. He also saw the role negligence played in these crashes, which were typically caused by the reckless and dangerous behavior of others involved. 

According to Bike Portland, as a result of his experience, Helfrich is the chief sponsor of House Bill 3347. If passed, the bill would strike all references to ‘vehicle accident’ under the Oregon Statutes and replace it with the term ‘vehicle crash’. He testified before the Joint Committee on Transportation, of which he is a member, in the first hearing on the matter in mid-March 2023. He claimed that both in his experience and as historically reflected in traffic incident reports, motor vehicle accidents do not just happen. They typically occur due to one of the following: 

  • Aggressive driving, such as tailgating, improper passing, and failing to yield;
  • Running red lights and stop signs;
  • Speeding and going too fast for conditions;
  • Distracted driving, such as using cell phones or texting while behind the wheel;
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or mood-altering medications. 

Helfrich’s claim is not merely a matter of semantics. The word ‘crash’ does reflect the situation better than calling these incidents ‘accidents’ but he says the main point in making the change is putting responsibility where it belongs-on the at-fault party. It also reinforces the fact that motor vehicle crashes are often preventable. Hopefully, by increasing awareness, changes in the wording may play a role in helping to prevent some from engaging in dangerous driving behavior. 

The Role Of Negligence In Motor Vehicle Crashes

Negligence is a legal term that is often referred to in motor vehicle crashes and other types of personal injury claims. Generally, it means one of two things: 

  • Taking willful and reckless actions that put others at risk;
  •  Failing to take reasonable precautions that could have otherwise prevented ‘accidents’ and the personal injuries they result in. 

Under the Oregon Statutes, you have the right to hold other motorists liable for damages you suffer if you are involved in any type of motor vehicle crash and negligence is to blame. This includes coverage of medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, and any pain and suffering you experience as a result. 

How Do I Prove The Other Driver Is Negligent? 

When a motor vehicle crash happens and the other driver is at fault, insurance policies they have in place may help offset your expenses. However, you will need to prove the other driver was negligent. Evidence that can be used to support your claim includes: 

  • Accident reports filed by police officers at the scene;
  • Photos or videos you take in the immediate aftermath;
  • Testimony from witnesses, who may have seen the crash or the moments leading up to it;
  • Surveillance videos or images from nearby businesses or traffic signals;
  • Medical records, showing the type and severity of your injuries;
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts, who may be called in to consult on the case. 

Even with this evidence, insurers may deny or downplay your claim. In this situation, your best course of accident may be to file a motor vehicle accident lawsuit through the Oregon Civil Court system. This can entitle you to additional amounts of compensation, even if you were partially at fault for a crash. 

Get Professional Legal Help From Our Oregon Car Accident Attorneys 

If you or someone you love is involved in any type of motor vehicle crash in Oregon, reach out to the Johnston Law Firm. We provide the professional legal help needed to get compensation in a claim. To request a consultation, call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Oregon car accident attorneys online today.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.