Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Attorneys

Do I need a personal injury attorney?

This (of course) depends on the specific circumstances you are faced with.  As a general rule, however, insurance companies take claims much more seriously when the injured party is represented by a personal injury attorney. Having an attorney will allow you to obtain information about the best way to proceed with your claim and what you should do to avoid being taken advantage of.

If your legal claim cannot be settled you will need to file a lawsuit to recovery for your losses. Litigating a lawsuit without an attorney would be a very bad idea. The rules of civil procedure are complicated and require experience and study to ensure that mistakes are not made. It would be like trying to build a house without any training in carpentry. Most important, having a lawyer should allow you some peace of mind that your claim is being properly handled.

How Much Do Personal Injury Attorneys Cost?

In the Portland, Oregon area reputable personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation and do not charge hourly fees if you decide to hire them. Instead of paying hourly, fees are normally a percentage of any recovery that the lawyer is able to achieve for you. Fees range from 25 percent to 40 percent depending on the case and time required to achieve a recovery. If you do not get a recovery there are no attorney fees. Reputable personal injury lawyers also advance the costs of litigation. This is because the legal process is expensive and our clients cannot afford the out-of-pocket litigation costs.

Some claims may require that the other side pay your attorney fees or that they be assessed penalties or punitive damages if your claim is successful. It is worth noting that in Oregon punitive damages are taxed at a rate of over sixty percent. The State of Oregon uses their large portion of punitive damages awards to assist crime victims and to fund the judicial system. Punitive damages arising from federal law claims may not be subject to such a “split recovery statute”.

What Do Personal Injury Attorneys Do?

Your lawyer’s most important job is to ensure that you understand the legal process and make informed decisions about your personal injury claim and your future. Your lawyer should be available to discuss any concerns that you may have and to provide honest advice about what your best options are. They will be able to explain all of the potential forms of insurance benefits that may be available to you.

Your lawyer will handle discussions with insurance representatives, your doctors and other lawyers. If you hire a personal injury lawyer you will not have to bother taking calls from insurance representatives or other lawyers representing the other side. Your medical records and bills will be obtained and your lawyer will be able to determine what, if anything, you are required to reimburse to others (your health insurer, your auto insurer, etc.) if you obtain a recovery for your claim.

According to various laws and the terms of insurance contracts you are likely going to be required to reimburse your automobile or health insurers for benefits they have paid for your treatment related to your personal injury. If you received workers compensation benefits or benefits from the Oregon Crime Victims Assistance program you will have to reimburse the State of Oregon as well. Your personal injury attorney will be able to identify to whom you may owe reimbursement, provide the proper notice required by law, and negotiate your payments out of any personal injury recovery you received.

You should be careful to hire a lawyer with trial experience.  Some lawyers are simply in the business of taking on a lot of clients and settling their claims for small amounts to generate income for themselves. Instead, you should look for a lawyer that knows how to effectively take your case to trial if a reasonable settlement cannot be reached. This is the best way to ensure that your interests are being protected.

How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?

That is impossible to say without gathering all of the relevant information about your personal injury case. This includes obtaining your medical records, witness statements, information about the defendant(s), medical opinions regarding your prognosis, learning whether the at-fault party has insurance coverage and in what amounts, learning what the at-fault party has to say, etc.  Simply, there are many factors to consider.  A quick consultation with a lawyer should, however, let you know if you need help to obtain a reasonable recovery for your loss.

Depending on your situation you may be able to recover for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, diminished ability to earn income, damage to your vehicle, and the pain and inconvenience you experience as a result of your injury.

What Injury Insurance Is Available To Me?

This depends on the situation.  A consultation with an attorney should help to determine what insurance may be available.

As an example, if you are involved in a car crash in Oregon there are at least three forms of injury insurance that are likely at issue if you have been involved in a automobile accident. The first is Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) benefits that are used to pay medical bills and lost wages regardless of who was at fault for causing the crash.  The second is the Liability Coverage of the at-fault party – this is the other party’s insurance to cover your claim.  Last, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (“UM/UIM”) may be available to you if you have paid for coverage above what the other party has in liability insurance.

Other examples – If you are injured on the job you may be entitled to workers compensation insurance benefits and may have a claim against automobile or general liability insurance coverage for any non-employer that caused your injury. If your personal injury resulted becaue of a crime you may be abe to receive benefits from the Oregon Crime Victims Assistance program.

There are many other insurance-related issues, depending on the kind of injury you have suffered and how. The requirements and processes of obtaining benefits from the myriad of different kinds of insurance depends on various factors and are subject to numerous Oregon laws and contractual provisions.

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