Personal Injury and Consumer Claims, Lawsuits and Settlement FAQ
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about personal injury and consumer claims, lawsuits, and settlement. This is not intended as a replacement to talking to a lawyer, as each client and case is different. Feel free to contact us at (541) 476-2110 or using our Contact Form.
PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS
Q: How do I determine if I have a claim for personal injury?
A: Our goal is to recover a fair verdict at trial or settlement for clients injured through the fault of another person or company. A person can still recover for injuries even if they were partially at fault so long as their fault is equal to or less than 50%. Some other claims may include someone who is injured when:
- A driver causes a car wreck by running a red light or speeding
- A driver causes a car wreck by texting or driving drunk
- A doctor fails to diagnose a condition, prescribes an excessive amount of opiates, or commits medical malpractice during surgery
- Equipment or other products malfunction or break, such as a deck at a home, or an exercise machine
- On the job
- An insurance company denies a claim for medical treatment, or does not adequately compensate a homeowner for losses caused by fire
- A coworker, stranger, or family member commits assault, sexual assault, or rape
- A nursing home or assisted living facility fails to take care of a family member or takes advantage of their age to steal from them or improperly change their will
- A restaurant or store fails to protect their customers or patrons by not making their premises, building, decks, staircases, or floors reasonably safe
We have successfully handled cases similar to all of these situations. In general, if caused by the fault of someone else, an injured person should speak up and ask a professional if there is a possibility for personal injury and consumer claims, lawsuits, and settlement. Initial consultations in personal injury cases are free and everything discussed is confidential and privileged. We especially respect our clients’ privacy and comfort in sensitive matters, and we try our very best to understand our clients’ vulnerabilities and needs.
Q: What is my case worth?
A: We consider many aspects of a claim in order to determine what is a fair settlement of our clients’ injury claims.
We know our clients often experience significant loss of good health as a result of car wrecks or other injuries. That loss of good health affects them every day and often will for the rest of their lives. Certain activities that make up an enjoyable life are compromised. Our community enjoys a large senior population. Many of our clients already may have some arthritis in their spines or joints which gets substantially worse with a motor vehicle impact or other injury. Sometimes the person’s arthritis was initially caused by some car wreck, fall, or other injury many years ago. With that worsening comes limitations and reduced activity.
When a person is harmed by the wrongful conduct of another, the law seeks to “balance the scales of justice” by allowing the injured person money damages based on the amount of harm done. We tell clients and jurors to consider the amount of money we all spend on pleasurable activities over a life span: vacations, golf clubs, boats, fishing gear. With a permanent injury, we seek a fair amount of damages considering limitations in those pleasurable activities for the rest of a client’s life span. That is a part of what are called noneconomic damages. Or damages for “pain and suffering”.
Lost earnings up to time of trial or settlement and projected out into the future for permanent injuries are also an important component. Past and expected future medical bills are a consideration. Only when our clients are finished with curative medical care can we fairly assess the value of a case and begin settlement discussions with the insurance company. This is because in order to get fair value, we need to know all the facts. Personal injury and consumer claims, lawsuits, and settlement are usually premature prior to this point, but it is important to have an attorney involved as early as possible.
Insurance companies hire doctors who no longer treat patients and they tend to say the same thing in every case: our client’s injury is just a sprain/strain that will go away in 90-120 days. Usually the experience of our clients and many jurors is not consistent with that opinion. Many insurance companies only pay for reasonable damages if they are pressed in litigation or taken to trial.
Q: Do we make a claim against the at fault driver or the insurance company?
A: In the case of a careless driver, the insurance company for that driver is responsible to pay the claim. If the case is not settled a lawsuit may be filed against the driver but the insurance company hires a lawyer to defend their insured. The jury is not told that an insurance company is involved, but in almost all cases the recovery comes from the insurance company rather than the responsible driver.
Q: What if the person responsible for the injury does not have insurance?
A: In motor vehicle collision cases insurance is almost always available to pay the claim. Liability and uninsured motorist coverage is required by law. Your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is used to pay your claim if the person responsible does not have insurance or the person’s insurance is not adequate to fairly pay for your injuries. In non-motor vehicle cases, the search for insurance coverage is often more complicated and requires investigation. Sometimes it turns out that insurance does exist, or there are other assets available.
Q: How do I pay for my medical bills?
A: In motor vehicle collision cases a client’s no-fault personal injury protection (“PIP”) will pay for the medical bills for the two years following the wreck, up to the maximum limits of your policy. After this time or limit has expired, your health insurance plan or Medicare will take over paying the bills. If necessary we will help you navigate this process while we pursue the claim against the responsible driver and their insurance company.
Q: Will my case go to trial?
A: From the first meeting, we begin to prepare for a jury trial. With some insurance company representatives, a jury verdict is the only factor that will force them to pay what we believe is fair. If a settlement offer is made, the choice will be yours whether to accept the offer, but we will offer our professional advice and guidance. Some types of automobile wreck cases go through arbitration in front of one or three arbitrators, who are usually neutral attorneys. It is worth talking to an attorney even if you would could never imagine yourself going through a trial. Personal injury and consumer claims, lawsuits, and settlement can take a variety of paths.
Q: Can I just settle the claim myself?
A: We don’t take cases that we don’t feel we can add value to. Usually, merely having an attorney provides enough leverage to increase case value, but there are other considerations. Part of our job is to take care of our clients’ legal needs when they should be focused on recovering or, if doing better, returning to their normal activities. We take care of collecting medical records, communicating with adjusters, and other tasks that we can do more efficiently than our clients. We are also in a much better position to decide what a fair offer is, and when and where to file a lawsuit. That said, if we think a potential client can try to resolve the case on their own, or if we have some other advice, we will tell the truth. And feel free to ask us, by phone at (541) 476-2110 or use our Contact Form.
WORKER’S COMPENSATION CLAIMS
Q: My workers’ compensation claim has been denied. Can a lawyer help?
A: Our firm has substantial experience helping injured workers get the benefits they deserve. Workers’ compensation insurance companies often deny claims based on erroneous information. We will obtain a hearing in front of a judge who will hear your testimony, that of any witnesses as well as review medical records. We frequently meet with our clients’ doctors and get any necessary reports. When an insurance company refuses to take responsibility for work related injuries, they compound the injured workers’ problems. Our firm strives to work with injured workers in order to help them navigate through those problems and get the benefits they deserve such as disability benefits and medical coverage.
Q: How do I determine if I have a claim as a consumer?
A: Our goal is to recover a fair verdict at trial or settlement for clients who have been taken advantage of by sellers, renters, contractors, or others who have contracted with or advertised to a client. Oregon law provides recourse to consumers through the Unlawful Trade Practices Act (“UTPA”). Wrongdoers may be incentivized to resolve claims because the UTPA statute is consumer friendly and allows for the recovery of a client’s attorneys fees in some cases. Some other claims may include someone who is financially harmed when:
- A contractor or subcontractor fails to perform work they agreed or contracted to
- A rental company or other business wrongfully charges someone, charges excessively or more than the agreed upon price
- A company misleads, falsely advertises, or otherwise takes advantage of a customer or consumer of goods or services
- A product or service is not as advertised
- A company engages in unlawful debt practices by threatening, intimidating, or using other unlawful tactics in trying to collect on a debt or loan
In general, if someone feels financially wronged, they should speak up and ask a professional if there is any recourse. Initial consultations in most cases are free and everything discussed is confidential and privileged. We take all personal injury and consumer lawsuits, claims, and settlements on their own merits, so feel free to talk to us at (541) 476-2110 or using the Contact form on this website.
Q: Will my case go to trial?
A: Like in injury cases, from the first meeting, we begin to prepare for a jury trial. Also like in injury cases, there is the possibility of settlement, but that doesn’t stop us from treating each case seriously. It is worth talking to an attorney even if you would could never imagine yourself going through a trial. Personal injury and consumer claims, lawsuits, and settlement can take a variety of paths.
Q: Can I just handle the claim myself?
A: Consumer law cases have some special considerations. The Oregon Revised Statutes have special requirements and provisions for Unlawful Trade Practices Act claims, which are often key to being successful in this type of case. Some cases may also involve attorney fee shifting, which may increase the likelihood that the company, business, or person takes the claim seriously if a consumer victim is represented by a lawyer. There are other considerations including other complexities of these types of cases, the increased likelihood the other side will have a lawyer in a case involving a business, and the less frequent settling of these claims compared to injury claims. If we think a potential client can try to resolve the case on their own, or if we have some other advice, we will tell the truth.