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How Is Child Custody Determined in an Oregon Divorce?

Child custody is not a decision that any court takes lightly. The specifics of custody law vary by state, but the child’s best interest is always the most important thing. How does Oregon law determine which custody is in the best interest of the child or children? Ultimately, it’s whatever will best benefit the child and where they will be most safe, stable, happy, and healthy. But what factors help the court determine this? Read on below to find out more.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan establishes how divorced or separated (if never married) parents will handle the decisions involved in child-rearing for a child they share, which the court will then confirm. These plans usually include outlines of holidays and vacation schedules, how information is shared between parents, when a child resides with each parent, and how disputes will be resolved.

In Oregon, most parenting plans must also include a requirement about moving. Per this requirement, a parent can only move up to 60 miles away without informing the other parent and the courts first. 

In some cases, parents agree on the details of the parenting plan, and the court only needs to get involved in ratifying the plan. In other cases, parents can not work together on the parenting plan, and the court needs to get more involved.

How is Custody Determined?

While physical custody is a significant part of parenting plan cases, it’s not the only part. Legal custody is another portion, referring to decision-making regarding education, primary care physicians, and other major choices that arise while raising a child.

When it comes to legal custody, joint custody is where both parents share the decision-making. In Oregon, a judge will only sign off on joint custody if both parents agree. If either parent objects to joint custody, the court will determine which parent gets sole custody.

Sole custody gives one parent the power to make decisions, but this arrangement usually still includes a split of time each parent spends with the child. Both parents would usually still have access to the child’s health, education, and government records and be able to make emergency medical calls. 

If the court deems it necessary, the parent without custody may have specific limitations placed. These could include court-supervised visits only or no visitation at all.

What are the Determining Factors for Custody in Oregon?

A Portland, Oregon, divorce lawyer will guide you through the ins and outs of the state’s laws, including factors that determine custody decisions in Oregon specifically. Here’s a breakdown of factors the court considers, as stated in Oregon Statue 107.137

  • The emotional bond between the child and family members. The child’s relationship with other family members, such as grandparents, will be a factor in determining custody. Oregon judges are typically reluctant to separate siblings.
  • The interest of the parties in/attitude towards the child. Your divorce lawyer must effectively show that the child is the number one priority in a parent’s life.
  • Which parent is the primary caregiver of the child. The primary caregiver can be determined by who takes the child to activities, who regularly attends physician and dental appointments, who bathes and feeds the child, etc.
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a continuing relationship between the other parent and the child. The health and safety of the child is always the most important deciding factor. 
  • If one of the parents committed abuse. In this case, custody will not be awarded to that parent for the child’s safety, health, and emotional well-being. Also, the courts will consider if one parent has a history of violence, drug abuse, criminal activity, or neglect. 

 Some other factors may include:

  • The child’s preference. Children can communicate their wishes, but because they are under 18, they will not have a legal say. 
  • Child’s age and gender.
  • Access to education options, opportunities, and resources.
  • Stability of each parent’s home. 
  • How much of an adjustment the child would have to make to shuttle back and forth to each parent’s house.
  • The testimony of expert witnesses, including psychologists, social workers, and physicians. 

What are some exceptions?

  • The parent’s income, social environment, and lifestyle will only be considered if it negatively impacts the child’s well-being.
  • There is no preference or bias based on the parent’s gender. 
  • A parent’s disability, unless it directly affects the child’s care. Mental disabilities or a disability that prevents a parent from being able to care for the child will be considered appropriately.

How Can a Portland, Oregon Divorce Lawyer Help with Child Custody?

Child custody has many aspects, so it will only help to have legal expertise in your corner. By consulting with a lawyer, you can discuss and figure out what you hope the custody arrangement’s outcome will be. Lawyers can also represent you in determining child support. Together, you’ll create a plan to achieve those goals.

If you don’t want to go to court, your lawyer can work to do everything possible to come to a resolution. If you must go to court, your lawyer can prepare you for the process. Even if both parents agree on a parenting plan, you should have a lawyer review the documents before anything is officially filed. Family law attorneys have experience creating these plans and will include what’s necessary, and help you avoid any pitfalls.

You’ll want to work with family law experts when navigating child custody cases. Our Warren Allen family law attorneys are some of the top-rated and most experienced divorce lawyers in Portland, Oregon. We’ll work hard for you to ensure the court determines the best custody arrangement for your child. Visit our website for more information about our Portland, Oregon divorce lawyers at Warren Allen LLP. If you have any questions or are interested in scheduling a consult, call or contact us via the website.

How Does the Legal Process for Personal Injury Cases Work?

Personal injury cases can feel overwhelming, especially when dealing with the aftermath of an accident that has caused you physical or psychological harm. Understanding the legal process for personal injury cases is vital, particularly in Oregon, where specific timelines and procedures must be followed for a successful outcome. 

This article will walk you through the legal process of filing a personal injury case, from the initial consultation with a lawyer to a potential trial.

Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation

The journey towards seeking redress for a personal injury should begin with an initial consultation with a knowledgeable attorney specializing in personal injury law. The legal framework surrounding personal injury cases offers several unique provisions important for anyone involved in an accident to understand. Working with an experienced law firm can eliminate any questions. At Warren Allen LLC, our experienced personal injury attorneys will work with you every step of the way, providing the knowledge needed to empower you to make informed decisions and seek rightful compensation.

During this pivotal first meeting, your attorney will delve into the details of the incident, assess the extent of injuries, and evaluate potential liability under Oregon law. This initial consultation sets the foundation for the legal strategy moving forward, guiding the injured party on the next steps to pursue their claim effectively.

Insurance and Liability

Following the initial consultation, the attorney initiates a thorough investigation to gather pertinent evidence following Oregon’s legal standards. This investigation may include obtaining medical records, scrutinizing accident reports, interviewing witnesses, and securing available surveillance footage.

Insurance plays a fundamental role in personal injury cases, often covering the defendant’s liability or offering a settlement to the plaintiff. Understanding the intricacies of insurance policies is crucial for both parties involved.

Auto insurance sometimes includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Uninsured Motorist (UM), and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. PIP helps cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other related cost, regardless of who is at fault. UM and UIM come into play when the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance or does not have insurance.

When injuries occur on someone else’s property, claims may be filed under business or homeowner’s insurance. These policies cover incidents like slips, falls, or other hazards-related injuries. 

Worker’s Compensation Insurance provides essential benefits for employees injured on the job, covering medical bills and a portion of lost wages. Medical Malpractice Insurance, on the other hand, addresses negligence by healthcare professionals, covering costs from legal actions due to medical errors or faulty products.

Insurance companies use a formula to determine settlement offers, but initial offers may be lower than the claim’s actual value. Claimants must understand these dynamics to negotiate effectively, as insurers often propose a figure below what they are prepared to pay.

Insurance adjusters gather information to aid the company’s investigation but represent the insurer’s interests, not the claimant’s. Their goal is to settle claims at the minimum possible cost to the company, which might not align with the claimant’s needs for fair compensation. Working with a lawyer can help avoid pitfalls or errors when dealing with an insurance company.

What Happens Next?

Armed with compelling evidence, your attorney may draft a demand letter outlining the specifics of the case and the damages sought under Oregon law. This letter serves as a formal communication to the at-fault party or their insurance company, initiating the negotiation process. 

In Oregon, negotiations aim to reach a fair settlement that adequately compensates the injured party for their losses while adhering to the state’s legal guidelines and precedents regarding negligence and fault.

Negligence is a fundamental concept in personal injury law, requiring proof that someone failed to exercise the care a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances. In Oregon, establishing negligence involves demonstrating four key elements:

  1. Duty of Care: Establishing that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to act with care.
  2. Breach of Duty: Showing that the defendant failed to fulfill their duty of care.
  3. Causation: Linking the breach directly to the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.
  4. Damages: Proving that the plaintiff suffered actual damages due to the breach.

Oregon adheres to a modified comparative negligence rule, which impacts the compensation you can recover in personal injury cases. If you are found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, you are barred from receiving any compensation. If your responsibility is less than 50%, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 30% at fault and your damages amount to $100,000, you would receive $70,000.

Proving negligence requires substantial evidence. Essential documentation includes accident reports, witness statements, medical records, photographic evidence, and personal documentation (such as maintaining a journal detailing the impact of your injuries on your daily life). Understanding these principles can significantly influence the outcome of your personal injury case.

Litigation

The legal process formally begins with filing a complaint in court, marking your transition from an injured party to a plaintiff. The discovery phase of the court process involves exchanging information between the parties and can include depositions, document requests, and third-party interviews.

Before trial, mediation may be attempted to settle the dispute out of court. If mediation fails, the case will move to trial, where evidence is presented before a judge or jury. If the verdict is in your favor, the recovery process for damages begins.

Categories of damages are as follows:

  • Nominal Damages: These are symbolic and awarded when no actual damage has occurred, but the principle of the matter is recognized.
  • Compensatory Damages: These are intended to cover both economic losses (like medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic losses (such as pain and suffering).
  • Punitive Damages: Awarded in cases of egregious wrongdoing, these are meant to punish the defendant and deter similar actions in the future.

Personal injury cases are fraught with complexities and demand meticulous attention to detail, highlighting the immense value of hiring professional legal assistance. Consider reaching out to Warren Allen LLC today for your free consultation; we have extensive experience and the knowledge to help you find the best outcome for your personal injury claim.

Explore Your Rights After a Slip-and-Fall Accident

Suppose you believe you have sustained a personal injury resulting from the possible negligence of a business or property owner in Portland. In that case, you should contact a Portland slip-and-fall accident lawyer as soon as possible. At Warren Allan LLC, our Portland slip-and-fall accident lawyers (also known as personal injury attorneys) will help you build a case to prove that the business or property owner involved failed to exercise reasonable care toward you and that negligence resulted in your injuries.

After experiencing a slip-and-fall accident, you have several rights to ensure your well-being, recovery, and protection under the law.

  • You have the right to seek immediate medical attention for injuries sustained in the slip-and-fall accident. Your health and safety are paramount, so medical care must be prioritized, even if injuries initially seem minor.
  • You have the right to document the incident. It’s crucial to record the details of the slip-and-fall accident as accurately as possible. This documentation may include photographing the scene, noting the conditions that led to the fall, and obtaining contact information from any witnesses present. If you choose to seek medical attention, medical documentation could also help your claim.
  •  You have the right to report the accident. Depending on where the accident occurred, you can report it to the property owner, property manager, or relevant authorities. Reporting the accident helps create an official record of the incident, ensuring that appropriate actions are taken to prevent similar accidents in the future.
  • If you believe that negligence on the part of the property owner, manager, or another party contributed to the slip-and-fall accident, you have the right to seek legal counsel. An experienced Portland slip-and-fall accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, navigate the courts or claims process, and pursue compensation for your injuries and damages.
  • If negligence is established, you have the right to seek compensation for various damages resulting from the slip-and-fall accident. These damages may include lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other related costs incurred as a direct result of the accident.
  • You have the right to fair treatment throughout the claims process. All parties involved, including insurance companies, legal representatives, and other relevant entities, should treat you fairly and respectfully. Your rights should be upheld as you seek resolution for the consequences of the slip-and-fall accident.

What Does Negligence Look Like in a Slip-and-Fall Claim?

According to Cornell Law School, the legal definition of negligence is “the failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. Either a person’s actions or omissions of actions can be found negligent. The omission of actions is considered negligent only when the person had a duty to act”.

In short, negligence in a slip-and-fall accident claim includes failure to keep premises safe, address known hazards, warn visitors, follow regulations, and maintain the property. When these failures lead to harm, the responsible party may be liable for negligence. Here are a few examples of negligence as it relates to slip-and-fall accidents:

Unsafe Premises

Property owners are responsible for ensuring their property is safe for visitors. Negligence can occur when they don’t address hazards like wet floors, uneven surfaces, loose rugs, or poorly maintained walkways.

Ignoring Hazards

If a property owner is aware of hazards but does nothing to address, fix, or warn visitors about them, they could be considered negligent. For example, if a spill in a grocery store is not properly cleaned up or marked with warning signs, it raises the risk of a slip-and-fall accident and can be considered negligent.

Lack of Appropriate Signage

The property owner must warn visitors even if a hazard cannot be fixed immediately. Negligence can occur if signs or barriers are not in place to alert people to dangers like wet floors or construction zones.

Violating Regulations

Building codes and rules exist to keep premises safe. Negligence might happen if a property owner doesn’t follow these standards, leading to unsafe conditions that cause a slip-and-fall accident.

Poor Maintenance

Regular checks and maintenance are vital for preventing, spotting, and fixing hazards. Negligence could be shown if a property owner doesn’t inspect and maintain their property correctly, allowing dangerous conditions to linger unnoticed.

Contributing Behavior

It’s worth noting that negligence can also involve the injured person’s actions. For instance, if someone ignores warning signs or behaves recklessly, their own negligence might reduce or remove the property owner’s liability.

What Are The Most Common Slip-and-Fall Injuries?

While every slip-and-fall accident is different and can vary in severity based on several factors, the most common slip-and-fall injuries are as follows:

Sprains and Strains

These injuries occur when ligaments or tendons are stretched or torn, often affecting joints such as the ankles, wrists, and knees.

Fractures/Broken Bones

Falls can fracture or break bones throughout the body, including the wrists, arms, hips, and ankles.

Head Injuries

Trauma to the head during a fall can lead to various injuries, ranging from minor bumps and bruises to more severe concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Monitoring for symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and changes in cognitive function is essential for proper management and treatment of head injuries.

Back and Spinal Cord Injuries

Falls can cause damage to the back or spinal cord, resulting in conditions like herniated discs, fractures, or spinal cord compression. 

Soft Tissue Injuries

Falls can cause damage to soft tissues like skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, resulting in bruises, contusions, or abrasions.

Cuts and Lacerations

Sharp objects or uneven surfaces can cause cuts or lacerations, which may require cleaning, suturing, or other forms of wound management.

Emotional Trauma

In addition to physical injuries, slip-and-fall accidents can also result in emotional trauma. Emotional trauma can manifest itself in many ways, including anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seeking support from mental health professionals could be very beneficial for individuals experiencing emotional distress after a fall. Overall, it’s essential to understand and assert your rights after a slip-and-fall accident. Contact Warren Allan LLC to schedule a free consult with one of our Portland slip-and-fall accident lawyers to ensure you receive the necessary support, care, and compensation to aid your recovery and well-being.

Fast Facts: Everything You Need to Know About Oregon Dog Bite Laws

According to the most current statistics in the United States, over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually, with 800,000 or more receiving medical attention. In some cases, a dog bite can result in a personal injury claim, in which the dog’s owner must provide financial compensation for hospital bills, medical treatment, or emotional damages. 

Most states have specific laws and local ordinances outlining when a dog owner is liable for a dog bite. These laws, known as “dog bite laws,” vary slightly from state to state

If you live in Oregon and have suffered a dog bite, you might be looking for a personal injury lawyer familiar with Oregon dog bite law. The attorneys at Warren Allen LLP specialize in a range of personal injury cases, including dog bite claims, across the Pacific Northwest. Before you call them to schedule your consultation, read through the comprehensive summary below to learn more about Oregon’s dog bite laws and your legal rights regarding those laws.

Who is Legally Responsible?

First, it’s essential to understand who is legally responsible for the dog’s actions. An “owner” usually owns the dog as property or is the regular custodian caring for it. However, the term can also extend to someone who knowingly allows the animal to stay on or near their premises

An exception to this rule, veterinarians and those who run kennels or boarding facilities might have temporary custody of the dog but are not considered “owners” since their care is usually less than 30 days at a time.

When to Report a Dog Bite

Any time that a dog bite breaks the skin, you suspect the dog might have rabies, or you know the dog has been in close contact with a rabid animal (or an animal suspected of having rabies), you must report the incident to the local health authority. 

Statute of Limitations

Although you do not need to take legal action against the dog owner immediately, you have a limited time to file a personal injury claim in court. Oregon does not have a specific statute of limitations on filing dog bite civil lawsuits, but these cases fall under the “personal injury.” Oregon’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of the initial encounter, so you must file your case within two years of a dog bite. 

Even if you do not initially plan on pursuing legal action after a dog bite injury, taking detailed notes about what occurred is always a good idea. Get the dog owner’s information, including name and contact information, proof of the dog’s rabies vaccination status, and the dog’s veterinarian’s contact information. Take pictures of your injury as soon as possible and continue taking pictures throughout the various healing stages. Keep all written notes, records, and photographic evidence of anything related to your injury in a file together.

What Financial Compensation Might Be Covered?

In general, when you file a personal injury claim, you might be eligible to receive financial compensation to cover medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. To support your claim, collect as much evidence as you can. 

  • If you receive medical care, ask for copies of doctor’s notes, pictures, prescriptions, and anything related to your care and recovery from the bite. 
  • If you need to take time off work due to your injury, this time could be considered a loss of income, so be sure to document it.
  • If you cannot perform specific domestic duties (e.g., cooking, driving, childcare, etc.) because of your injuries and need to hire outside help, retain all receipts, invoices, and communication with the service provider. 

Around half of dog bite victims are children who might be more prone to the after-effects of fear and anxiety from a traumatic dog encounter and injury. It’s important to remember that personal injury cases are not limited to physical damages, so if you or your child suffer mental or emotional anguish in the wake of a dog bite and seek professional mental health care or counseling services, keep detailed records of this medical treatment as well.

Strict Liability vs One-Bite 

Washington State is known as a strict liability state (rather than a “one-bite state”) regarding dog bite laws. Strict liability laws hold the dog owner responsible for any bite occurring on public property (unless the victim provoked the dog or assaulted the dog owner) or private property (unless the victim was trespassing). 

Even if the dog has never displayed aggression or bitten anyone, the dog owner will still be held liable and might be responsible for providing financial compensation to the victim. In contrast, a one-bite state does not allow liability to be applied until a history of aggression is established. Oregon is a mixed-liability state. Per Westberry v. Blackwell, an Oregon dog owner is liable for a dog bite injury if they knew or should have known the dog’s dangerous behavior.

Additional Local Ordinances

Certain Oregon cities or counties might have other dog ownership regulations that could affect your personal injury case. For instance, in some counties and all Oregon state parks, dog owners must always keep their dogs on leash in public unless in a designated off-leash area. 

Other laws apply to dogs legally designated as “dangerous” after previously showing aggression or having bitten someone. Owners of dangerous dogs often must meet specific additional requirements, such as confining the dog securely or keeping it muzzled in public.

Get an Expert Opinion on Your Dog Bite Case

Talking to an attorney familiar with Oregon dog bite law is essential if you’re wondering whether you’re eligible for financial compensation due to a dog bite injury. Laws are subject to change, and you need someone up-to-date and aware of local ordinances and regulations that might apply to your case. The personal injury team at Warren Allen LLP would be happy to discuss your case with you and provide legal advice and representation if you live in southwestern Washington, Portland, or other areas across Oregon. Let our team be your team. Contact us to get started today!

What Factors Should I Consider When Hiring Attorneys in Portland?

How do you find the right attorney when you need legal advice or representation? Your first step might be to ask family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for recommendations. First-hand experience with a law firm or attorney can provide valuable information about how they approach cases, treat clients, communicate, and more. 

You might also do a quick internet search to see what attorneys are in your area. It’s important to find a local law firm for a few reasons. Since laws vary from state to state and in different jurisdictions, a local firm will be the most familiar with the laws and local court system that might affect your case. Secondly, depending on the type and complexity of your case, you might need to consult with their team more than once, which will be easier with a local attorney. 

If you’re looking for attorneys in Portland, Oregon, for instance, the expert team at Warren Allen, LLP, has a wealth of experience representing clients across Washington and Oregon in a range of legal areas. Specialties include personal injury, family law, landlords’ rights, condominiums, estate planning and probate, and wildfire recovery.

Besides location, though, there are several other factors to consider when hiring attorneys in Portland or any other city. The following guide outlines some things to think about in your search.

Area of Expertise

First and foremost, you want an attorney familiar with your type of case. When attorneys specialize in a particular area of law, they are better equipped to provide sound legal advice and represent you in court should that become necessary. Familiarity with your type of case ensures the attorney can:

  • Develop effective legal strategies. They stay updated on changes in the related laws and are familiar with relevant case precedents and rulings, so they know what approach works best, what type of evidence is needed, etc.
  • Capitalize on established relationships. They will likely have established relationships with judges, other attorneys, and experts in the area who can help with your case. For example, in personal injury cases, you need an expert to establish negligence, gather evidence, and assess damages.
  • Work efficiently and confidently. Because these attorneys have already spent a lot of time working with similar cases, they won’t need extra research time, which will be more cost-effective for you. Knowing what paperwork is needed and which steps you need to take can also significantly reduce the risk of missing important deadlines or leaving out pertinent information.

Level of Experience and Reputation

Of course, you would like an experienced attorney with a high success rate, but how can you check? The first step is to contact your state’s bar association or use their online search function to verify the attorney’s credentials. Their online entry should also indicate whether they have faced any disciplinary actions or if there have been complaints filed against them. State bar associations should also have information about the attorney’s track record of cases.

You can also ask the attorney for references or case studies from some of their previous clients. These references can help you gauge client satisfaction and success rate. Read any reviews or testimonials you can find online. Do they have a good reputation?

Professionalism

Another important factor to consider is the level of professionalism of the attorney and the law firm. You want to feel confident that you and your case are in capable hands. When a law office, the attorney, or their team is disorganized, chaotic, or perpetually late, they will likely handle your case the same way. 

Communication

Maintaining professionalism in communication covers a few different areas. When you call or email, do they answer quickly, or do you have to follow up on communication attempts to get a response? Do they listen to you and answer your questions, or are they dismissive? Are they clear in their communication, or do they use many legal terms you might need help understanding? Do they seem genuinely interested in your welfare and your case?

Another thing that communication might clarify is whether or not the attorney has the time and resources to dedicate to your case and focus on your needs. Even if their communication is professional, delays in responses indicate that your attorney is very busy with a heavy workload and may be unable to give your case the necessary attention for success.

Presentation

If your attorney might eventually represent you in court, you want them to have a professional appearance and presentation, which will inspire confidence. You can begin to gauge their level of professionalism by looking at their website and office. Do they have typos on their website? Is the office messy or dirty? Are they dressed appropriately for a business atmosphere? 

Although these issues might be minor, they can give you a better sense overall of how seriously the attorney takes their job and, in turn, how much effort they will put toward your case.

Fee Structure

Some attorneys charge by the hour. Others work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you are only required to pay them if you win the case. Some charge flat fees for specific services. Discuss fees upfront and make sure you have a clear understanding of the billing structure. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any law firm that: 

  • Makes you feel uncomfortable asking questions about the fee structure
  • Cannot provide you with specific information about fees and costs
  • Guarantees you will win your case or will receive a certain amount of financial compensation

Compatibility

Even for a relatively simple case, you will work closely with your attorney and need to trust them. Feeling compatible and comfortable with your attorney is especially important if your case is sensitive (as in many family law or personal injury cases) or complicated. Trust your gut. Considering the above tips, you are in the best position to know whether the attorney you’re consulting with is the right fit for you.

Many reputable law firms offer free initial consultations for potential clients. These consultations are both to make sure you have a strong case and also to allow you to get a feel for the attorney. Take advantage of this service to ask questions and assess your comfort level.

Experienced Attorneys in Portland

Finding the right attorney might take some time. Don’t be afraid to interview multiple candidates before making a final decision. Ultimately, it’s worth the effort to make sure you have the right team on your side. If you are looking for experienced, professional, caring attorneys in Portland and the Pacific Northwest, contact the team at Warren Allen LLP. We would love to discuss your case with you.

Alimony, Child Support, and More: Family Law Terms Explained

As the name suggests, family law deals with familial relationships and related legal issues that may arise, such as annulment and divorce, child custody, adoption, guardianship, paternity, and more. Because these issues involve family members, there is often a lot of emotion involved, and cases can be complicated and sensitive. 

Seeking out an attorney familiar with the area of family law can be helpful as you navigate the family court system. Many law firms have attorneys who specialize in family law who can provide sound advice and legal representation when you need it. 

If you are looking for a family law attorney in Portland, OR, for instance, the law firm of Warren Allen LLP has experienced attorneys who have handled many cases involving prenuptial agreements, separations, divorces, establishing paternity, settling child custody issues, and other related issues. 

To better understand the issues covered by family law, the following guide provides brief definitions and descriptions of some of the most common family law terms.

Legal Issues Related to Marriage

At its best, marriage is a lifetime partnership between two people who love and support each other. It is also a legal contract with shared rights and responsibilities. Below are some legal issues relating to marriage or the dissolution of one:

Prenuptial Agreement

Sometimes referred to as a “prenup,” a prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that a couple agrees to before marriage. Prenuptial agreements usually outline the couple’s wishes for the distribution of assets, debts, and alimony or spousal support should the marriage end in divorce, separation, or the death of one of the spouses.

Annulment

Although most people think about divorce (see below) as the only way to legally end a marriage, under certain circumstances, a court may grant an annulment. An annulment is a legal declaration that a marriage contract is void, meaning the marriage never existed legally. Grounds for an annulment are situations that would challenge the validity of the marriage (e.g., fraud, bigamy, lack of mental capacity, legal age issues, undue influence, impotence, and more.).

Separation

Some married couples choose to live apart but remain legally married for financial, religious, or other reasons. This type of arrangement is known as legal separation. While separation sometimes ends in divorce, that is not always the case. In most cases, couples sign a separation agreement that formally outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse, especially if there are child custody (see below) or visitation issues.

Domestic Violence

Unfortunately, some family relationships involve abuse or violence within a domestic setting. Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse but also encompasses emotional and psychological abuse. Partners who are dating, spouses, children, and elders can all experience domestic violence and might require legal intervention such as getting a protective order or pursuing criminal charges.

Divorce 

When a couple chooses to terminate their marriage contract legally, it is known as divorce. Divorce legally dissolves the marital relationship, and the involved parties must agree on several issues, such as the division of assets and debts, spousal support, child support, and child custody. 

Mediation

Although many divorces are amicable, if a couple has difficulty reaching a mutually acceptable agreement, involving a neutral third party known as a mediator can be helpful. The mediator can facilitate communication and can negotiate solutions to resolve disputes. Mediation can be especially beneficial in contentious or complicated divorces.

Alimony or Spousal Support

When one spouse earns less than the other, the higher-earning spouse may be required to provide financial support to the lower-earning spouse to help them maintain their standard of living after a divorce. This financial assistance, known as alimony or spousal support, may be permanent or just until the lower-earning spouse can support themselves financially.

Legal Issues Related to Children

When children are involved in family law cases, the child’s best interests should always be considered. The following legal issues might arise in cases of separation or divorce (see above) for spouses who share children:

Child Custody

In the eyes of the law, child custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of each parent to care for their child. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with, and courts grant either joint or sole physical custody. If one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent usually has visitation rights. Legal custody refers to which parent has the right to make important decisions about the child’s healthcare, education, religious upbringing, and more. Joint legal custody requires both parents to be involved in the decision-making.

Child Support 

As with spousal support (see above), child support is the legal obligation of one party to contribute financially to the needs of another. In this case, one parent makes court-ordered payments to cover costs related to basic needs like housing, food, education, healthcare, clothes, school supplies, etc.

Guardianship

Sometimes, a court may grant legal authority to someone to care for another person (often a minor) who cannot care for themselves. Known as a guardian, the individual then bears the legal responsibility to make decisions on that person’s behalf and provide them with care.

Guardianship is sometimes necessary to help aging parents or adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. When it comes to children specifically, guardianship of a minor might be granted to someone if the minor’s parents have abandoned them or died or when the minor’s parents are not capable of providing adequate care. 

Family Law Attorneys in Portland

The descriptions above provide a general overview of common family law terms. Laws can vary by state and jurisdiction, so getting legal advice from a local attorney well-versed in your area’s family court system is essential. If you’re looking for a family law attorney in Portland, OR, or the surrounding areas of the Pacific Northwest, Warren Allen LLP offers top-quality legal services to clients in Portland, Southwest Washington, and all across Oregon and Washington. Contact us today to discuss your case.

What Is the Role of Insurance in Personal Injury Cases?

Personal injury cases are common and can include car accidents, slip-and-fall incidents, workplace injuries, and dog bites. If you have been involved in an accident that caused you physical, mental, or emotional harm because of someone else’s actions or negligence, you might be entitled to financial compensation from the party at fault. 

Insurance companies and their representatives usually work to settle personal injury claims. Depending on the type of personal injury case, different types of insurance policies and companies might be involved. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer in Portland, like the Warren Allen LLP team, who specializes in these types of cases, is often a good idea since they can help you navigate the claims process, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and represent you in court if you are unable to reach a fair settlement. 

For instance, if you are looking for a personal injury lawyer, ensure they are well-versed in providing solid legal advice and working on all types of personal injury cases, which should include: 

  • Vehicular accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents (also known as premises liability)
  • Product liability
  • Animal bites
  • Medical malpractice
  • Workplace accidents

It’s important to remember that the insurance company of the other party involved in the accident will likely try to settle the claim as quickly as possible while minimizing the financial impact on their client. Understanding the different types of insurance policies and companies you might encounter and their role in personal injury claims might help you be more prepared to ensure the best outcome for yourself. The information below provides an overview of insurance in personal injury cases, including things to watch out for.

Common Types of Insurance Policies Involved In Personal Injury Cases

Many insurance policies offer some coverage for personal injury claims. The following are a few different kinds of insurance and the costs they might cover.

Automobile Insurance

Most drivers have car insurance that provides liability coverage that helps pay for bodily injury or physical damage you might cause in an accident. Depending on the policy, medical bills, car repairs, pain and suffering, and lost wages might be covered. Some states also require personal injury protection or no-fault insurance as part of your plan. This protection might help pay for medical costs and sometimes lost wages not covered by your regular health insurance, no matter who was at fault in the accident. 

Insurance companies generally use a specific formula and minimum amounts the state sets to determine the settlement amount they offer you.

Business Owner’s Policy And Homeowners’ Insurance

Slip-and-fall incidents most often occur at businesses or on private property. Business owner’s policies combine liability coverage and property insurance; some homeowners’ insurance policies can include personal liability coverage. In both cases, the insurance policy could cover the medical bills of a third party who is injured on the property of the business or home due to negligence, like an icy sidewalk, slippery floor, or a loose board on the porch. 

The insurance company sets coverage limits depending on the plan purchased by the business or homeowner. Any settlement beyond those limits would be paid out-of-pocket by the policyholder. Also, it’s important to remember that claims against insurance policies often raise rates for the policyholder, making them more likely to challenge these claims. An experienced personal injury lawyer on your side is especially helpful if the situation becomes contentious.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Any time you are injured while on the job, your employer should have workers’ compensation insurance coverage to help cover any medical treatment or lost wages as you recover. Many workers’ compensation claims are paid in full, even if you are at fault. Typically, when you accept payment, you give up any rights to sue your employer for the incident, including for financial compensation for pain and suffering in the future.

Medical Malpractice Insurance

In the United States, all hospitals have medical malpractice insurance, and many healthcare professionals do as well. These insurance policies provide liability coverage related to claims of medical negligence, products, or services that result in a patient’s injury or death. Medical malpractice cases are complicated, and it’s usually best to consult with professionals before pursuing one. 

What Do Insurance Companies Do In Personal Injury Claims?

As a general rule, when an accident is reported to an insurance company, they assign a claims adjuster who will be responsible for the following:

  • Investigate the accident
  • Gather information and evidence through eyewitness accounts, pictures, police reports, medical records, etc.
  • Assess the extent of damages and injuries
  • Interview and determine the liability of their policyholder
  • Calculate the amount of compensation to be offered
  • Negotiate with you or your representative to settle the claim

Insurance Company Tactics To Be Aware Of

Remember that the insurance adjusters work for the insurance company of the other party involved in your accident, not you. They most likely do not have your best interests in mind. To minimize the financial impact on their employer (the insurance company) and their client (the policyholder), they might employ a few different tactics you should be aware of, including:

  • Offering a low initial settlement amount
  • Pressuring you to settle early, before your medical treatment or car repairs are complete
  • Attempting to shift liability from their client to you
  • Requesting records, reports, or personal recorded statements from you that might be used against you (such as information about pre-existing medical conditions or prior personal injury claims) 
  • Trying to settle your claim before you’ve consulted with a lawyer or pursue litigation

When To Talk To A Personal Injury Lawyer

It’s always a good idea to consult with a personal injury lawyer in Portland before providing recorded statements to an insurance claims adjuster or accepting any settlement offers outright. Many attorneys provide free initial consultations to offer legal advice on protecting your rights. They can also help you assess any settlement offers you might receive and whether you should pursue litigation. 

Negotiating with insurance companies can take time and effort. If you cannot reach a fair settlement agreement with an insurance company, it is in your best interests to work with a personal injury lawyer who can help you file a personal injury lawsuit and represent you in court. When you contact the team at Warren Allen LLP, you will have access to a personal injury lawyer in Portland with a wealth of knowledge and experience representing clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be challenging. It helps to have a team on your side. Call today to discuss how Warren Allen LLP can help you!

Misdiagnosis & Medical Negligence Law: What You Should Know

Medical negligence is a grave concern that affects numerous individuals worldwide. Within the broader scope of medical malpractice, misdiagnosis emerges as a significant issue that can lead to severe consequences for patients. 

This article will explore the complex world of medical negligence law. We will focus on misdiagnosis, its implications, and the options available to individuals who have been harmed by negligent or inattentive medical professionals.

Understanding Medical Negligence and Misdiagnosis

Medical negligence, which falls under the umbrella of medical malpractice, occurs when healthcare professionals deviate from the standard of care expected in their field and thereby harm the patient. Misdiagnosis is a specific form of medical negligence in which a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a medical condition accurately or provides an incorrect diagnosis. This type of malpractice tends not to be malicious.

Misdiagnosis can stem from various factors, including inadequate examination, misinterpretation of test results, failure to order necessary tests or simply human error. Regardless of the cause, the consequences can be severe, leading to delayed or inappropriate treatment, worsening of the patient’s condition, and sometimes irreversible harm.

Legal Implications of Misdiagnosis

When a patient is misdiagnosed, they may have legal recourse under medical negligence law. To establish a case of medical negligence, the plaintiff must generally prove four key elements: the healthcare provider’s duty, any breach of that duty, the causation of harm, and the damages accrued.

In simple terms, this means that the plaintiff and their lawyer must prove that the healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient, generally through an agreement to treat a patient who has asked for assistance or treatment. Once this is proven, they must show that the provider failed to meet the standard of care expected of them in the medical field, thus breaching that duty of care and that duty caused direct harm or injury to the patient. 

Once harm is established, one must draw up a list of quantifiable damages, both bodily and financial, that came about specifically due to the stated medical negligence. In the context of misdiagnosis, proving each of these elements can be a complex process, with the need for many things like expert testimony, a showcase of medical records, and a thorough understanding of the specific circumstances surrounding the case. Misdiagnosis as a legally liable branch of medical negligence is uniquely challenging to prove, as all four of the key elements we named above must be provable and verifiable.

Jurisdictions seem to be more receptive towards claims explicitly based on the idea of informed consent, where an individual thought themselves to be informed when giving consent but later found that they were unaware of the specific risks associated with a medical procedure or prescribed drug. The medical professionals who may find themselves guilty of medical malpractice and misdiagnosis include physicians, surgeons, psychiatrists, and dentists, but can also include nurses, midwives, medical assistants, and a wide range of allied health professionals. 

Those who claim to be particularly skilled or specialists will find themselves operating under a higher duty of care based on the acceptable skill level and the idea of informed consent.

Options for Individuals Facing Misdiagnosis

When facing a misdiagnosis, seeking a second opinion from another healthcare professional is often the first step. Different perspectives may provide alternative diagnoses that better fit or alleviate the pain and symptoms of the previous errors. Often, a misdiagnosis can be remedied with a second opinion, and no further steps must be taken. 

Complaints can be filed with the relevant medical board for individuals who believe they have experienced medical negligence past repair of a second opinion. While this might not result in immediate compensation, it can prompt investigations and any necessary disciplinary actions against the healthcare provider. If the wronged individual and the healthcare provider cannot reach an agreement, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit.

Before resorting to a lawsuit, any parties involved may opt for negotiations or mediation to settle the matter outside of court, which can be quicker and less adversarial. Though maliciousness should not be assumed or unassumed, an unintentional but clearly harmful misdiagnosis may find restitution early during these negotiations. 

If negotiations fail, individuals may pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit with the help of the experts at Warren Allen Attorneys at Law. If necessary, this process would involve filing a complaint against the responsible healthcare provider or any governing board and seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

It is important to find out and keep in mind the statute of limitations, which will vary by jurisdiction or state. Failing to file a lawsuit within the allotted time frame may bar you or the injured individual from seeking compensation for damages, either caused or perceived.

In a successful medical malpractice lawsuit related to misdiagnosis and medical negligence, compensation may be awarded to the plaintiff for a variety of damages. These include reimbursement for medical bills associated with the misdiagnosis and subsequent treatment, any compensation for income lost due to the inability to work caused by the misdiagnosis, and any pain and suffering caused or experienced throughout the misdiagnosis. Damages can be awarded for the physical and emotional distress experienced as a result of the misdiagnosis. If it leads to long-term consequences, compensation may cover future medical expenses.

Misdiagnosis is a distressing experience that can have profound implications for an individual’s health and well-being. Understanding one’s rights and options within the framework of medical negligence law is crucial when seeking justice and compensation for the harm caused by a healthcare provider’s negligence. By knowing the available legal avenues and utilizing the resources of accomplished law firms like our team here at Warren Allen LLP, individuals can navigate the complex terrain of medical malpractice and work towards holding accountable those responsible for misdiagnosis. Call us, and let us walk you through the process of filing your medical negligence case.

How Do You Know Who’s At Fault in a Car Accident in Oregon?

Getting into a car accident is never a pleasant experience, and when it happens in Oregon, understanding the nuances of determining fault becomes crucial. Oregon follows a no-fault insurance system and at first glance, that system may seem straightforward. However, the intricacies of this system, coupled with exceptions and legal considerations, demand a closer examination. 

This article will break down the fault determination process in Oregon car accidents, shedding light on the state’s no-fault system and the pivotal role of a Portland personal injury lawyer.

The Basics of Oregon’s No-Fault System

The no-fault system in Oregon operates on the fundamental principle that each party involved in a car accident is responsible for their own injuries and damages, regardless of who caused the accident. This particular approach is designed to simplify the claims process, with each driver’s insurance covering their related medical expenses and losses. 

However, this is not a one-size-fits-all scenario, as there are exceptions to the no-fault rule.

Exceptions to the no-fault system come into play when medical expenses exceed a predefined threshold or when injuries are deemed severe. An injured party may be eligible to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver in such cases. At this point, it is in their best interest to contact a lawyer like Warren Allen LLP and schedule a free consultation with one of our Portland personal injury lawyers.

These exceptions acknowledge the limitations of a strict, no-fault approach and ensure that individuals with significant damages have avenues for appropriate compensation.

Deciphering Fault In Oregon Auto Accidents

Understanding the foundations of fault determination is crucial for those navigating the aftermath of a car accident in Oregon. Thre are several factors that come into play with fault determination: 

  • Foundations In Traffic Laws: The cornerstone of finding fault lies in carefully examining Oregon’s traffic laws and regulations. Rules regarding speed limits, right-of-way, and other traffic norms provide the framework for assessing liability. If any party involved in the accident violated these regulations, it can become a critical factor in determining fault.
  • Role Of Police Reports & Witness Statements: Law enforcement officers play a pivotal role in the post-accident scenario by creating detailed reports. These reports encompass the officer’s observations, statements from involved parties, and any observed violations of traffic laws. Additionally, witness statements can either corroborate or challenge the events leading up to the collision. The combination of police reports and witness statements aids in constructing an accurate narrative of the accident.
  • Insurance Adjuster Investigations: Insurance adjusters undertake thorough investigations to determine fault, utilizing resources such as police reports and witness statements. However, individuals involved in an accident must approach these investigations cautiously, recognizing the potential for biases. Seeking guidance from a Portland personal injury lawyer at Warren Allen, LLP will provide valuable assistance in navigating these complexities.
  • The Crucial Role Of A Portland Personal Injury Lawyer: The legal professionals at Warren Allen specialize in deciphering the nuances of Oregon’s no-fault system, ensuring that individuals receive fair compensation for their losses. A Portland personal injury lawyer emerges as an indispensable asset in the intricate landscape of fault determination.

Warren Allen LLC’s Portland personal injury lawyers serve as seasoned guides, steering clients through the legal complexities associated with fault determination. Their expertise in understanding the intricacies of Oregon’s no-fault system is instrumental in ensuring that individuals are treated fairly in the aftermath of an accident.

Assessing Damages & Negotiating Compensation

Beyond navigating legal complexities, Portland personal injury lawyers play a crucial role in assessing the full extent of damages incurred by their clients. From medical expenses to property damage, these attorneys meticulously quantify losses, enabling them to negotiate with insurance companies effectively and secure just compensation for their clients.

While the no-fault system streamlines the claims process, exceptions allow for litigation against the at-fault driver. In such scenarios, a Portland personal injury lawyer becomes an advocate, building a compelling case to demonstrate the opposing party’s liability. Their expertise in litigation ensures that clients receive due compensation for the damages suffered.

Prompt Reporting & Documentation

Prompt reporting of the accident to law enforcement and insurance companies is crucial. Documenting the scene through photographs and collecting witness contact information provides essential evidence for fault determination and subsequent claims. 

Avoid Statements That Admit Fault

In the aftermath of an accident, individuals should exercise caution and refrain from making statements that may be construed as admissions of fault. Consulting with a Portland personal injury lawyer before providing statements to insurance companies is a prudent step to safeguard legal interests.

Securing Legal Representation Early

Engaging the services of a Portland personal injury lawyer early in the process significantly influences the trajectory of a case. These attorneys bring a wealth of experience to the table, ensuring that clients’ rights are protected and that they receive fair compensation for their damages.

In conclusion, determining fault in a car accident in Oregon involves a comprehensive understanding of the state’s unique no-fault system. From traffic laws and police reports to the indispensable role of a Portland personal injury lawyer, various factors contribute to this intricate process. By adhering to best practices, promptly reporting accidents, and securing legal representation when needed, individuals can navigate the aftermath with greater clarity and confidence.

The expertise of a Portland personal injury lawyer emerges as a crucial asset in unraveling the legal complexities and ensuring a fair resolution for those affected. As individuals seek to recover from the physical, emotional, and financial toll of an auto accident, the guidance of a Portland personal injury lawyer becomes paramount, providing a sense of justice and a pathway to fair compensation. With the right approach and support, individuals can navigate the complexities of fault determination and emerge with a fair resolution in the aftermath of a car accident in Oregon. If you’ve been in an accident and need legal help, reach out to us at Warren Allen today.

Navigating Legalities of Child Custody in Family Law

Protecting the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of a child is the most important part of establishing child custody. For Pacific Northwest family law, several complex factors can contribute to the custody decision. Our experienced attorneys at Warren Allen can help navigate the legal requirements for a child custody agreement. 

Below is a helpful guide on the types of child custody arrangements, the factors that affect custody decisions, and how an attorney can help you determine the right action plan.

Types of Child Custody

There are two types of custody arrangements established in Oregon law. The first is called joint custody, which can be a confusing term. Joint custody simply means that both parents share equal responsibility for the decisions made for a child, even when the child lives primarily with one parent. 

Joint custody might look like a child lives with one parent during the school year and the other during summer. It might also mean that a child lives with a parent one week and the other during the opposite week. Some agreements might have the child with one parent during the week, and the other on weekends and holidays. For the courts to grant a joint custody arrangement, both parties need to agree on the arrangement’s terms. 

The second is called sole custody. This means that one parent will be the designated primary parent and make all the decisions regarding the care of the child. Sole custody can happen when parents don’t agree to a joint custody plan or the court determines it is better for a child to remain with one parent. 

Both parents will almost always have the right to access the child’s school, medical, dental, police, and counseling records and authorize emergency medical care if necessary. However, certain factors affect the court’s decision on what type of child custody is awarded and if there are any restrictions on the parents.

Factors that Affect Child Custody 

The primary factor that affects most child custody scenarios is the parents themselves. If parents are already agreeable to an arrangement, this eases the process immensely. If that is not an option, the court will consider several factors to develop a custody agreement. 

The judge will use the information presented to determine what is in the best interest of the child. They will consider things like who the primary caregiver has been. If the child needs physical and mental accommodations, that is another consideration. The court will also consider the child’s preference of which parent they want to live with. The strength of family relationships with other family members is also another consideration. 

The fitness of each parent and their ability to offer a safe and stable home is considered. Whether or not each parent has taken an interest in the child or children, their attitude towards the child and maintaining a relationship is another factor. Whether each parent is encouraging and facilitating a close relationship with the other parent can affect the outcome of a custody agreement.

The court will also consider if there has been abuse by the parent to either the child or the other parent. The court also considers any evidence of a history of substance abuse, crime, or violence. The court will also look at a parent’s lifestyle, marital status, income, or social environment and consider if adequate child care is in place when the parent is at work. 

If any of these is determined to be harmful to the child, they can be factors in determining custody. The court may order supervised visits and potentially give sole custody to one of the parents if it feels it’s in the child’s best interest. 

How An Attorney Can Find the Right Plan

It’s essential to have a Pacific Northwest family law attorney to help you navigate the legal complexities the court requires while coming up with a plan that works for you and your child. Even if both parties agree, it’s important to have an experienced attorney look for potential issues that may come up. When the parties don’t agree, you’ll need an attorney to ensure your rights and your child’s rights aren’t violated. 

The courts require a parenting plan to be a part of the process for determining child custody. The parenting plan helps parents determine the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the child or children. It will also outline the time each parent will spend with their child, known as “parenting time.” 

Parenting time is also used to determine any child support. The plan outlines who makes decisions, the weekly schedule, vacation and holiday schedules, how parents will exchange their children from one home to the other, and will clearly delineate other decisions and obligations both parents agree to. 

Having an attorney oversee this process can help ensure you’re not missing vital information the court will require or mistakingly agreeing to something you didn’t have to agree to. 

Unfortunately, there are too many instances where this situation is tense and strenuous. Having an attorney will help you know your rights, file for temporary parenting plans if necessary, and help ensure that you are not breaking any laws. If the situation is unsafe for you or your child, knowing what protections are available to you and how to access them is important. A good family law attorney is there to help you gather the information that the court will need, navigate these difficult situations, and develop the right action plan. Navigating a child custody agreement can be one of the most challenging and emotional times for parents and children. Our experienced family law attorneys at Warren Allen are here to help and guide you with our extensive knowledge and solid experience. Schedule a consultation with us today to help you navigate the best outcome for you and your child.

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