Insurance company tricks: a round-up of what you need to know

You pay for an insurance policy. In return, the insurance company is supposed to protect you and your property from loss or damage.

That doesn’t always happen.

Insurance company tricks and tactics

Allstate Insurance Company logo

One insurance company created a full “3D” strategy

There’s a strategy insurance companies use to try to keep your money: deny your claim, delay payment, and then put up a defense against your case.

If you need to file an insurance claim, you need to know about this insurance company tactic: Delay. Deny. Defend.


Did the insurance company send you to a “preferred service provider” for post-accident repairs?

Insurance companies may direct to mechanics who will use cheap, off-brand parts to repair your car after a wreck.

You could be driving a very dangerous car: How insurance companies sell you “aftermarket” car parts.

Will your car accident claim affect your insurance cost?

If you pay your auto insurance premiums, you shouldn’t be charged more to actually use the service for which you paid.

Some companies claim “accident forgiveness”: but one car wreck can have a big affect on your insurance bill.

Medical bills and liens: how insurance companies try to make you pay

Your health insurance will cover your medical expenses after an accident.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will kick in when you file an accident claim.

Those insurance companies may file a lien against your injury claim: will you need to pay them back? How to handle the medical bills after a car accident.

It will save you $25 or so on your insurance payment, but it could cost you a lot more. Opting out of some insurance policy provisions is a bad idea: here’s why.

Denial of claims and bad faith

“Bad faith” means the insurance company is denying coverage or benefits to a policyholder who is rightfully owed that insurance coverage.

When your accident claim is unfairly denied, the insurance company could be “acting in bad faith”.  Insurance company denials, bad faith, and what you can do about it.

They could have just done the right thing, and paid out a $250,000 insurance policy five years ago. Allstate refused. Here’s what happened: A $22 million-dollar bad faith lesson for Allstate.

Remember, it is your right to talk to an attorney before you sign any insurance company documents.


Share Oregon’s (surprisingly effective) distracted driving videos

  • One quick text message can take your attention for 4.2 seconds. That’s long enough to drive 100 yards – the full length of a football field – without looking at the road.
  • Using a phone while driving has been against the law in Oregon since 2010. The Oregon DMV reports 9,607 convictions for the violation, just from January 1 – August 28, 2014.
  • The fine for violating the law is now $160 minimum, and as much as $500.

It’s dangerous. It’s against the law. It’s very expensive to get caught—either by the police, or because you cause a distracted driving crash.

But none of these facts are as powerful as these 30-second public service announcements from the Department of Transportation.

Share these videos—and remind the people you care about that distracted driving kills.


You might also be interested in …

Distracted Driving: Multi-Tasking Is a Myth

It’s worse than we thought: terrifying video study of teen distracted driving crashes

D’Amore Law Group volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland. Here’s what we learned…

Last week, attorneys and staff from D’Amore Law Group purchased and prepared dinner for families staying at the Ronald McDonald East House in Portland, Oregon.

These families are staying with children receiving medical care for a serious illness or injury at Portland’s Legacy Emmanuel.

D'Amore Law Group Attorneys and Staff, Portland Oregon Ronald McDonald House

Our firm’s volunteer attorneys and staff outside of the Ronald McDonald East House in Portland, Oregon

When your child is seriously ill, it affects your whole family.

A sick child changes a parent’s priorities. Getting your child the best possible medical care becomes your main job: everything else is secondary.

But regular tasks of family life don’t stop because a child is sick. 

Your kids still need help with homework.

Your house still needs to be cleaned.

Your family still needs to eat.

D'Amore Law Group Attorney Nick Kahl, Attorney S. Michael Rose, Paralegal Dan Doede, cooking at Ronald McDonald House

The evening’s volunteer chefs included Attorney Nick Kahl, Attorney S. Michael Rose, and Paralegal Dan Doede

The Ronald McDonald House is set up to take some of this burden off of the parents’ shoulders.

There is homework help, shuttles to the hospital, fun family activities—and meals prepared by volunteers.

Parents can focus on the care and health of their child, instead of cooking, cleaning and doing chores.

A happy, supportive environment is really meaningful.

The Ronald McDonald House in Portland is a surprisingly cheerful place.

Big, bright murals cover the walls.

The common rooms are open and comfortable. The whole house is spotlessly clean … making it safe for small children with compromised immune systems.

D'Amore Law Group volunteer cleans toys, Ronald McDonald House, Portland Oregon

After finding too many lawyers in the real kitchen, Taylor offered to clean the playroom kitchen .

There are computers, books, toys, and a brand-new playground.

It is especially striking when you consider the alternative.

You can imagine how hard it would be to spend months away from home, caring for a sick child.

Hotels are expensive, and the rooms are small. Healthy food is costly, and options are limited. There are no resources for entertaining young children. There is no one to lend a hand.

In contrast, the Ronald McDonald House feels safe, supportive—and fun.

The staff is friendly and knowledgable, eager to help parents manage resources. Kids get to know other kids with similar health experiences.

Everyone gets support—and everyone gets to have a sense of normalcy during a chaotic time.

Every gesture means something.

We used our combined culinary skills to prepare salads, made-to-order pizzas, and fresh cookies.

It was a simple dinner.

But when families are struggling to fight a child’s serious illness or injury, a small gesture—like a home-cooked meal—can help.

It means a night off from cooking. An extra hour at the hospital. A day that ends with a family dinner.

D'Amore Law Group Attorneys Tom D'Amore, Michael Rose, Nick Kahl, and Doug Oh-Keith preparing dinner

Attorneys Tom D’Amore, Michael Rose, Nick Kahl, and Doug Oh-Keith preparing dinner

On September 17th, lawyers and staff from plaintiff’s law firms across the country volunteered at Ronald McDonald House Charities as part of The Injury Board Day of Action.

Each person volunteered a few hours. Each firm donated the cost of the meal.

Alone, we all made small gestures of kindness.

Together, we helped hundreds of families struggling with childhood illness.

We wish all of these families good luck, and good health.

 Injury Board Members D'Amore Law Group Portland Oregon

The lawyers and staff at D’Amore Law Group believe that a healthy and safe community benefits all of us, and commit time and resources to strengthening and improving their extended community.

Do you have a volunteer project for us?  Contact Sara Wold at 5o3-222-6333. 



D’Amore Law Group volunteering to help children and families through a difficult time

A seriously ill or injured child is every parent’s nightmare.

Many of us at D’Amore Law Group are parents—but all of us have worked on claims for traumatically injured children.

We have seen first-hand how families struggle to provide for a child’s care. Parents often face difficult choices between working and paying the bills … or staying with a child receiving medical treatment.

Kyler's family stayed at a Ronald McDonald House

Kyler’s family stayed at a Ronald McDonald House during his kidney treatments.

Organizations like Ronald McDonald House Charities have a special role: they help these families by providing safe, temporary housing near hospitals.

Helping out at Ronald McDonald House in Portland

When families are struggling to fight a child’s serious illness or injury, something as simple as a home-cooked meal can help keep them going.

On Thursday, September 17th, attorneys and staff from D’Amore Law Group are volunteering to provide and prepare a meal for the families staying at Ronald McDonald East House in Portland, Oregon.

These families are staying with children receiving treatment at the renowned Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emmanuel in Portland.

“As a firm, we are dedicated to giving back to the local community and helping those in need of assistance.” – Tom D’Amore.

The 2nd Annual Injury Board Day of Action


See what happens – follow #IBDayofAction on Twitter!

D’Amore Law Group is one of dozens of law firms volunteering at Ronald McDonald House Charities as part of The Injury Board Day of Action.

On September 17th,  plaintiffs’ law firms and members of the Injury Board will all be working for the same cause, on the same day, all across the U.S.

We are truly excited be a part of the Day of Action!

Check in with us on Facebook for event updates!

Safety at home: a guide to preventing baby and child injuries

You know that the statistics for child injuries are alarming. About 8.7 million children are treated in emergency rooms for unintentional injuries, every year. 9,000 of those kids die—from injuries that are largely preventable.

As a parent, you want to protect your children from unnecessary harm at home.

But for so many, child-proofing a house can feel like a huge and overwhelming task.

Read and share this comprehensive guide to making a home as safe as possible for babies and young children.


Baby Proofing and Child Safety at Home: A Complete Guide covers electrical safety, kitchen safety, poison control—and gives useful, practical tips for parents.

More Child Safety Information:

Massive backlog of sexual assault kits shows justice system failing rape victims

A sexual assault is a hugely traumatic experience. Sadly, it’s an experience shared by an estimated 1 in 6 Americans—mostly women.

The aftermath of a rape or sexual assault can be nearly as traumatic as the event itself.

Completing a sexual assault forensic exam (or “rape kit”) can be very difficult. Victims are instructed to avoid showering, using the restroom, or changing clothes. They spend hours at the hospital to complete a head-to-toe medical exam, and get treated for any injuries. They are scraped and swabbed for DNA evidence; blood, hair and urine samples are taken. Then, the rape kit evidence is turned over to police.

The good news: the process preserves evidence, and gives the victim the hope of justice.

The bad news: it’s probably a false hope.

There are 400,000 untested sexual assault kits in the U.S, according to estimates from the Department of Justice.

This is a big problem for two reasons.


Justice system is failing rape victims

One big problem with the rape kit backlog: it shows that there was no chance of justice or resolution for many, many victims.

Imagine that you are experienced a terrifying, damaging sexual assault: your life is irrevocably changed. When your attacker isn’t punished—or maybe isn’t even identified—that lack of resolution compounds the trauma for many sexual assault survivors.
68% of sexual assault victims don’t report the crime. That means barely 30% of assaults even have the potential to be investigated.

97% of rapists never go to jail for their crimes.

Victims see that as an ongoing failure to identify, prosecute and punish rapists. This does not inspire confidence in the justice system.

The low reporting rate contributes to the absurdly low rate of punishment for sex crimes.

Conversely, the low punishment rate makes it much harder to convince victims to report to police—and submit to invasive examinations and rape kits.

Worse, the existing rape kit backlog means that it can be many months—sometimes, years—for a newly submitted kit to be tested. That is a very long time for a victim to wait, and even more disincentive for victims to report to police.

Failure of prevention

Justice for sexual abuse victims is a very serious issue. However, there’s a bigger problem with the rape kit backlog: many rapists are repeat offenders.

Different studies have found as many as two-thirds of rapists admit to multiple sexual assaults. The underreporting of rape and sexual assault complicates the statistics, but the average is somewhere between 5-6 victims per rapist.

Some of those 400,000 untested rape kits are decades old. There are potentially tens of thousands of serial rapists who were never identified or caught. There are likely thousands of others who were never connected to all of their crimes.

If even half of those rape kits had been tested and catalogued, they would be an enormous contribution to the national DNA database.

How many sexual assault crimes might have been prevented?

We cannot break the dangerous cycle without clearing the backlog of untested rape kits, and giving hundreds of thousands of sexual assault victims the chance for justice.


Oregon has a backlog of 5,000 untested sexual assault kits- and it’s a huge problem

Reporting a sexual assault can be nearly as traumatic as the event itself.

Victims are advised to seek immediate medical help. They spend hours after the assault at the hospital, completing an invasive medical examination and a sexual assault kit (commonly known as a rape kit). The rape kit is sent to police.

Earlier this year, Oregon State Police asked every local police department to count the number of sexual assault kits being held in police evidence rooms.

What they found is shocking: more than 5,000 sexual assault kits were never sent to a lab for testing.

The Portland Police Bureau holds almost half of those kits. Washington County, Gresham and Salem police departments all have hundreds of untested kits.


KGW News found that 61% of the rape kits collected in Portland were never sent to a lab.

Even when rape kits do get sent to the Oregon Crime Lab, there’s a huge backlog.

More than 1,150 DNA samples, from both violent crimes and property offenses, are already at the lab, waiting to be processed by the state’s forensic scientists. Oregon State Police Superintendent Richard Evans, Jr. says the state crime lab in Clackamas is already working at capacity.

How did the rape kit backlog happen?

Quite simply, there are very few laws or rules about when or how rape kits should be tested.

In most police departments, it’s up to the sexual assault detective or police officers. They can decide to send a rape kit to the lab for processing—or they can let it sit in the evidence room indefinitely.

An officer might not send the kit to the lab if a sexual assault suspect has already been identified and confessed. The victim might decide against pressing charges. The prosecutor might not think the lab results necessary for a criminal case.

Or the officer just doesn’t believe the victim.

Sometimes we let our personal opinions get in the way, ” –Salem Deputy Police Chief Steve Bellshaw at Oregon Senate hearing

And if that discretion given to individual police officers is troubling, then the utter failure of basic investigation is truly disturbing.

Because most rapists are repeat offenders.

Studies have shown that rape is rarely an isolated incident. More than half of rapists have multiple victims: on average, 5.8 victims per rapist.

When a rape kit isn’t tested, the DNA evidence doesn’t get entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

If Oregon had tested even half of the 5,000 rape kits, thousands of potential attackers would have been entered into CODIS.

How many sexual assaults might have been prevented?

Even in cases where the rapist was already identified, or confessed, entering the DNA evidence in the database might have solved a previous crime.

I probably in 1993 should have sent those kits in to be tested (even if a suspect confessed) because my kit could have solved an unknown kit in another jurisdiction.” – Salem Deputy Police Chief Bellshaw

Yet, Oregon has failed to make rape kit testing a priority.

How can Oregon solve this problem?

Funding is the biggest issue most jurisdictions face in breaking through the rape kit backlog. Oregon, and specifically Portland, will likely need more resources to test 5,000 sexual assault kits.

Oregon state legislature approved funding for adding two more forensic scientists at the state lab to help address the backlog. Police, prosecutors, and victim advocates are forming a work group to establish a model policy for getting the rape kits tested, and notifying victims of DNA matches.

While the Oregon State police voluntarily started a count of untested kits, there is no legislation to force them to do so, and no provisions for future rape kit testing.

Progress is being made— but the plans are vague, and no deadlines have been set.

This is cold comfort for survivors whose sexual assaults might have been prevented. But perhaps it’s the start of changes we need to break the cycle—and give rape survivors the justice they deserve.


New Oregon law allows speed cameras on Portland’s High Crash Corridors

Starting in January 2016, speeding drivers may be more likely to get a ticket in Portland, Oregon.

Traffic cameras are set up along streets to catch drivers breaking traffic laws: usually running red lights, or the exceeding speed limits. Radar detects the violation, and uses automatic number plate recognition to send a traffic ticket to the vehicle’s registered owner.


Streets with speed cameras must have enforcement signs, and show you car’s current rate of speed according to the radar.

Last week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Oregon House Bill 2621 into law. The new law allows the city of Portland to use traffic cameras for speed enforcement on streets with high rates of crashes resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.

Nearly a dozen Oregon cities, including Portland, already use photo radar for speed limit enforcement. But as of January, Portland will be exempt from the restrictions of the current law.

Current law:  Speed cameras can only operate for four hours per day in one location. A police officer must be present.

New law: Portland’s speed cameras can run 24 hours a day in fixed locations. Police do NOT need to be present.

Radar aimed at high-crash corridors

If it works as planned, the speed camera program could have a real effect on Portland’s traffic safety problems.

Under the current law, Portland’s radar vans have been issuing record numbers of traffic tickets. Last year, they sent out 33,486 speeding tickets—all of them to drivers travelling at least 11 mph over the speed limit.

Under the new law, cameras will be used on Portland’s “high-crash corridors”: the 10 streets that account for 50% of pedestrian deaths, and 36% of all of traffic deaths in the city.  Vehicle speed is one of the biggest indicators of the likelihood of injury or death in a crash.


Division Street, Burnside Street, and SE Powell are among the most dangerous streets for cyclists and pedestrians.

Police intend to start with 10-20 speed cameras along the high-crash corridors. Drivers will either slow down to avoid a citation – or more speeding tickets will be issued, generating more revenue for the city to improve traffic safety.

The new law correlates to Portland’s adoption of “Vision Zero,” a traffic safety project with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities down to zero. See  “Vision Zero”: there’s a big hole in the plan to eliminate Portland traffic deaths.


Long road to justice: a jury trial verdict for client injured on construction site

It’s been nearly five years since Charles Pamplin’s foot was crushed in a construction site accident.

Charles was a welder with 30 years experience when he was contracted to work on a Clark County, Washington construction site. The project was massive: assembling a new oil rig for BP.


Scaffolding covered the oil rig construction site. Our client was seriously injured when a dangerous, unsecured scaffold collapsed under his feet.

A dangerous construction site and a scaffold failure

Charles had been working on the Vancouver, Washington construction site for a month when the scaffolding he was working on toppled over.

He tried to jump from the falling scaffold, and landed on his heel. Charles’ foot was shattered. He laid on the ground for over an hour before anyone on the job site called 9-1-1.


The 11-foot unsecured scaffold collapsed on the Vancouver, Washington construction site.

Safway Corporation had just a few workers in charge of erecting, inspecting and dismantling nearly 100 scaffolds.

No one had secured the scaffolding to the structure.

There were no safety or warning signs to prevent workers from using it.

The handful of construction site workers who managed the scaffolding had left for the day without completing their jobs.

Incomplete scaffolding – or any other short-cut taken on a construction site – puts workers in danger.”

This was an enormous construction project. There is absolutely no excuse for a safety lapse of this magnitude.

Justice from the jury

Charles is now 51 years old. His foot injury is permanent and debilitating. His welding career is over. His entire life has changed—and all of this could have been prevented if scaffolding had simply been built and secured correctly.

Still, the companies in charge of the work site refused to take responsibility.

Charles chose to go to trial.

After the six-day trial in Clark County, the jury deliberated for just a few hours. They awarded Charles $947,180 for the construction site accident.

Charles hopes that the verdict will send a message to huge construction companies: there are real consequences to endangering your workers’ lives and livelihoods.

Thanks to D’Amore Law Group attorney Doug Oh-Keith and paralegal Dan Doede, as well as co-counsel attorney Greg Price, for their hard work on Pamplin v. Safway et al.


See more photos and additional coverage of this case in the Oregonian: Clark County jury awards Louisiana welder $950,000 after scaffold collapse



One of the worst cases of medical malpractice in U.S. history – Part 2

This is a continuation from the most recent blog post below…

What about the hospital system that he worked for, or the drug companies that sourced his practice?

The volume of patients was beyond excessive. Fata reportedly lined up 50-60 patients a day, whom he would hand off to unlicensed doctors before spending a few minutes with each at the end of the appointment.

One medical journal editorial posited this theory: Fata was simply so profitable that no one wanted to ask questions.

By the time Fata was arrested, his practice was purchasing about $45 million worth of drugs annually for a staff of three doctors. The average drug buy for one full-time oncologist is between $1.5 and 1.9 million a year.

As of now, there are no reports that any other person in Fata’s practice or hospital system has been charged with a crime.

What about the patients? Did anyone seek a second opinion, or question the treatment?

Most ethical medical professionals would urge anyone diagnosed with a fatal illness to seek a second opinion … unless there is dire urgency.

At least some Fata patients who asked for a referral for a second opinion were told that it was imperative to begin aggressive treatments immediately. Second opinions would cause delay, hurting the chances of recovery.

The daughter of one of Fata’s deceased patients stated at the sentencing hearing:

Several times when I had researched and questioned his treatment, he asked if I had fellowshipped at Sloan Kettering like he had.”

This cringing statement shows how Fata used his position to degrade or belittle anyone who questioned his treatments.

The harsh reality of medical malpractice lawsuits 

My firm, D’Amore Law Group, gets dozens of questions every week about potential medical malpractice claims. 

Any one of these patients, individually, would have a hard time proving a case against Fata.

Cancer treatments are based on medical opinions, which are often just that: opinions.

While there are accepted best practices for treatments, a doctor deviating from those practices may not, by itself, be considered “medical malpractice.”

No one patient, alone, could have stopped him.

The good news, if there is any in this case, is that the civil justice system may help get justice for the victims. There are at least 40 civil cases for medical malpractice pending against Fata—and probably against the hospital that enabled his crimes.

However, lawyers representing Fata’s victims say that the potential recovery available for these people, some of whom endured years of unnecessary and painful chemotherapy, is relatively low. Michigan has a medical malpractice cap of $450,000 for punitive damages such as pain and suffering.

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