Choosing an Oregon Personal Injury Attorney

How Do I Pick a Personal Injury Attorney? Tips and Traps to Avoid

Lawyer jokes and the stereotype of "ambulance chasers" exist for a reason. Annoying television ads and stories about personal injury lawyers acting badly seem to be everywhere. However, most personal injury attorneys are hard working, caring members of society who believe in fairness, honesty and making life better for others. We are fortunate that here in the Portland area and elsewhere in Oregon the legal community has a well earned reputation for being more congenial and ethical than elsewhere.

Regardless, before you decide who you want as your personal injury lawyer be sure that they are the right fit for your personality and your case. Carefully consider who will represent you. Ask yourself if this is the person you want speaking on your behalf in front of a judge and jury. There is nothing wrong with interviewing more than one personal injury lawyer to decide who the best fit is for you.

It is also important to seek an injury lawyer that has jury trial experience. There are many lawyers that claim to be experienced in prosecuting injury claims. However, relatively few actually have any injury trial experience before judge and jury. If there is no threat of the possibility that you can have your case effectively tried before a jury you will not receive the compensation that you otherwise would. Seek an experienced trial lawyer.

Here are some tips and traps to avoid when considering how to choose your personal injury lawyer.
Regardless of whom you speak with, beware of the following "red flags". If these issues pop up when you are speaking with a lawyer that you are considering hiring, be careful going forward.
  • Contact shortly after your injury Be very wary of any law firm or lawyer that sends you mail or calls you shortly after your injury. They likely monitor news media and buy police reports just to solicit injury cases. Ask about their reputation in the legal community before working with such lawyers. Make sure they are more interested in helping their clients recover for their injury than just turning a quick buck.
  • Fee for initial consultation Most reputable personal injury lawyers in Oregon do not charge a fee for an initial consultation. If a lawyer asks for money just to talk to you about your case consider interviewing other lawyers who do not.
  • Pressure to sign agreement An attorney should never insist that you sign a representation agreement before leaving their office after an initial consultation. If you choose to do so on your own accord - fine. However, you should never feel pressured to enter into an agreement.
  • Should always explain terms as well as answer any questions The injury attorney you hire should always explain the terms of your representation agreement to you and be willing to answer any questions you have.
  • Guarantee of results If the attorney you are speaking with guarantees a certain result for your injury, you should speak with someone else to be sure of the risks involved and whether such a result is realistic.
  • Contingency fee greater than benefits Your attorney should not charge a contingency fee in an amount greater than the benefits they obtain for you.
After speaking with a few personal injury lawyers you are still having trouble finding the right one for you, contact the Oregon State Bar's free Lawyer Referral Service at 503-684-3763 (or toll-free in Oregon at 800-452-7636). They will provide you with the contact information for an attorney from a list of those that handle your kind of case.
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