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5 Questions to Ask When Choosing Personal Injury Attorneys in Portland Oregon

Most of us hope that we’ll never have reason to hire a personal injury attorney in our lives. By definition, you only need the services of a PI attorney when something has gone wrong and you (or someone you love) has suffered an injury or even death. However, not wanting to ever have to hire an attorney to represent you when seeking compensation for injury doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare for the possibility.

Here are some questions that you should ask when looking for personal injury attorneys in Portland, Oregon—or, really, anywhere.

What Does a Personal Injury Attorney Do?

Before you know what questions you should ask a hypothetical PI attorney in the Portland, OR, area, you should know what the purpose of a personal injury attorney is.

An attorney who specializes in matters of personal injury is an attorney who will help people who have suffered a wrong or an injury, typically in an accident of some kind. Given that medical expenses in the United States can often be dire, one of the most critical purposes of a personal injury lawyer is helping you recoup money that will help you pay these bills—so that you aren’t staring down the barrel of medical bankruptcy at a time when you should be focused on healing. The damages you and your attorney will seek can also go toward covering living expenses while off work, and so on.

Whether in Portland, Oregon, or elsewhere, personal injury attorneys will:

  • Explain your rights. The best lawyers will give an honest assessment of your case as they understand it. What rights do you have that might have been violated? Alternatively, were you doing anything at the time that might make seeking damages more difficult?
  • Assess and investigate the incident. Some law firms specializing in personal injury may carry out their own investigations of an accident, hiring professional investigators to do things like interview witnesses, take photos of the scene, and other activities to document what happened to you. Your attorney and their staff want to make sure they have a full understanding of the events that transpired.
  • Advise you as to how to proceed. The legal system can be a tricky, arcane beast even when you aren’t recovering from injury. It’s often tremendous help to have an objective voice that can give professional, experienced advice as to how you should proceed and what steps will make it more or less likely for you to receive the damages you deserve.
  • Represent you in court. The majority of personal injury claims are settled long before anyone ever steps into a courtroom, but should that step occur, you’ll be well served by having experienced legal counsel to handle the case for you. A trial requires expert knowledge not just of the law, but also of how it is applied—and how to argue it—and that’s why you want a seasoned personal injury attorney to argue your case, whether in a Portland courtroom or anywhere else.

Now that we know the role a personal injury attorney typically holds, what should you look for and what should you ask when you hire one?

5 Questions to Ask a Prospective Personal Injury Attorney

Hiring a personal injury attorney isn’t like hiring a painter or a web design firm, where if the result is subpar, you’re only out time and money and can easily try again. Many times, your first attempt to recover damages over an injury is the only attempt you get; judges frown on repeated attempts to file lawsuits over the same offense. (Setting aside appeals, but we’ll get to that later).

Because of this, you need to make sure your personal injury firm is the best in the business at what they do. Always ask at least these questions, and do your research to get to know the law firm and its staff.

1. Have You Handled Cases Like This Before?

The most brilliant attorney in Portland today might be a fresh-faced young lawyer hot off the bar exam, but that’s not a smart gamble to take. Even veteran attorneys might be fishes out of water when faced with a case that isn’t quite their expertise. Would you trust even an accomplished podiatrist with your eye surgery? Of course you wouldn’t.

Ask your prospective attorney whether they’ve represented clients like you before—and what the outcomes were. If the law firm has handled dozens of cases like yours but hasn’t won any, that might mean you should keep looking.

2. What Do You Think the Outcome Will Be?

On the other hand, a losing record might indicate that cases like yours rarely succeed. Lawyers aren’t psychics or fortune-tellers, but they do understand the law, and when you lay out the facts, they can often give an honest prognostication of where they think this case might go. This isn’t an ironclad guarantee, of course, but it might help you decide your next steps. For instance, if the attorney says you’ll be more likely to see money in arbitration, rather than in a courtroom, you can pursue that avenue.

3. How Will the Billing Be Handled? What Fees Do You Have?

Outside of pro bono lawyers—who may handle your case in certain circumstances—your attorney and their firm will, of course, expect to be paid for their hard work. It’s important to understand the fees that your representation will be seeking and to understand how and when they expect to be paid. Nobody likes talking about money, but it’s critical to ensure you’re all on the same page.

4. What Work Will You Need from Me?

When you sign the contract to officially hire a personal injury attorney, sometimes your work is done and you can leave it all up to your law firm. Other times, the attorney will need you to provide documents, other information, or anything else they can use to build your case. However, most of them will probably tell you not to do any work, like talking to witnesses, on your own—that can backfire.

5. What’s the Strategy for an Appeal?

If you lose a case, you’re usually allowed to appeal it to a higher court. (As are the defendants if the court rules in your favor). It’s important that you assess how prepared a law firm and its attorneys are when it comes to appellate courts. Ideally, you’ll win the case at the first level, but planning ahead is never a bad thing.

These are just some of the many questions you should ask a personal injury attorney when looking for representation in Portland or around Oregon—or the country. You should always consult multiple potential attorneys to ensure that you have the right personal injury firm to represent your case.

To find top-notch representation in the Portland area or for legal consultation, contact Warren Allen.

 

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What to Bring When You Meet Your Personal Injury Attorney

Experiencing an accident resulting in personal injury or in the injury of a loved one is stressful enough, without the added stress of having to learn how to proceed with a personal injury case. If you’re trying to receive compensation from an accident, legal representation can be a beneficial asset. Though this can initially feel overwhelming, getting all your proper documentation in order before meeting with your attorney can help streamline the entire process and minimize unnecessary stress. Equipped with the proper documents, they can best assist you and your case so you can focus on getting better.

But what documents do you need? To make the process more manageable, listed below are helpful documents to bring when meeting with your personal injury attorney for the first time.

Medical Records

Medical records pertaining to injuries sustained during the accident and any treatment received are critical information for a personal injury case. This documentation provides a record of the severity of the injury and how much treatment was required, as well as proof of treatment corresponding with the date of the accident. This information is foundational in establishing that the injury is real and required medical treatment and that the treatment is directly related to the accident.

Bring any bills or doctor’s notes, as well as any photographs. If you’re uncertain if it’s relevant, bring it anyway. It’s best to have comprehensive documentation. Bring any relevant paperwork received from visits to the hospital, doctor’s office, physical therapist, or specialist.

Witness Contact Information

After you have been in an accident, it’s important to get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident and is willing to provide their information. Make a record of their full name, address, and phone number. If there are any written statements involved, bring copies of those as well. If you don’t have any statements, the contact information will help your personal injury attorney obtain any necessary statements.

Accident Report

If you were in an accident caused by another person, filing a police report is helpful in establishing who is at fault. The accident will be on record and the police may investigate if necessary. Both parties’ claims will be on record in detail as well as a description of the scene. If you have any photos from the scene, including photos of your injury or damage to your property, bring them as well. Both the accident report and any relevant photos taken will be an aid to verifying your claim.

Insurance Information

You will also want to report your injury or accident to your insurance provider. Keep records of any correspondence with your provider. Make copies of emails exchanged and make notes of phone conversations, including dates and with whom you spoke. If another party is at fault, you will need their insurance information as well.

When meeting with your attorney, make sure to bring copies of your insurance policy. If you were in a car accident, you’ll need to include a copy of your automobile insurance policy.

Financial Records

Make sure to keep records of any costs you have incurred as a result of your injury and any other related damage. This means saving receipts for medical bills or repairs for damaged property. If you had to buy any goods or services because of your injury, keep the receipts. If you had anything fixed because of an accident, keep those receipts as well.

You should also keep track of lost wages. If you lost any time from work due to your injury, bring documents that show what dates you missed and the pay lost from missed work. These could include pay stubs, payroll documents, or your W-2 form. Make sure to keep a log of any dates you missed from work, even if you can’t find supporting paperwork.

Personal Account

In addition to official documents, it’s helpful to keep a written journal detailing the events related to your injury and any other pertinent information. Keep records of your injuries and any damage through writings and photos. It may be helpful to get a notebook dedicated to journaling and detailing injuries, damage, symptoms you’re experiencing, as well as your experiences.

A key element to include in your personal recordings is a timeline of events. It’s easy to forget details or get the order of events mixed up, especially as time passes. Writing down your personal account will help you remember the details of what happened: when it took place, the order of events, what and how it happened. This will not only help you remember what happened, but it will also help you present the important facts of your case to your personal injury attorney.

Additional Information

Other important information to include in your personal account are the names, addresses, and numbers of services obtained or other parties involved. This can include the ambulance service, emergency room, business addresses and names of doctors or specialists who treated you, witnesses, insurance adjusters you spoke with, other people involved in the accident, and anyone else you spoke to about the injury or accident. Make sure to include the dates you were admitted to the hospital or emergency room and dates of work missed.

If you have any questions or need advice, contact our expert team at Warren Allen LLP. Our firm offers legal representation as well as advice for anyone who has been affected by an accident. We will help you to receive compensation and the best resolution possible. If you don’t have legal representation, an insurance company may attempt to minimize the amount you receive. Contact our firm today and find the representation and advice you need, as well as the best options available to you.

Personal injury because of an accident can be scary and overwhelming without proper support and help. However, the right tools and people in your corner can mitigate the entire process. Equipped with the proper documents and a skilled attorney, you can better obtain proper compensation with peace of mind during this trying time.

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What Constitutes a Personal Injury?

Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with a personal injury case. However, you could get caught in an accident and need help navigating how to handle it. That’s where our experienced team at Warren Allen LLP can help. It’s always good to be careful, but when something blindsides you, our representatives are here to get you the compensation you need.

A personal injury case begins when you experience an accident that results in you being injured or in the death of a loved one. So, what constitutes a personal injury?

Here are four facts about personal injury cases to help you get started.

1. Personal Injury Is Not the Same as Bodily Injury

The terms personal injury and bodily injury are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have two different meanings. If you have a personal injury lawsuit, that means you’re a plaintiff looking for compensation because you’re a victim of an accident or a social wrong (as in a defamation of character case). The defendant is the person you’re suing for compensation from. Their negligence caused an injury to you.

For instance, consider a situation where the manager of a store fails to fix a loose railing for the stairs and doesn’t post any signs about it to warn people against using it. While in the store, you use the railing, fall down the stairs, and break your leg. In this case, you can ask for compensation for your medical bills and lost wages while you recuperate.

If you have a bodily injury case, it’s most likely in the context of a car accident. If you sustained bodily injury in a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay out compensation to you, whether you’re a pedestrian, another driver, or a passenger in another car. This compensation can be for out-of-pocket medical expenses, treatment procedures (such as x-rays, specialist doctor’s visits, and physical therapy), and transport to the hospital. Other plaintiffs have been known to receive compensation for pain and suffering, but this tends to be rare in bodily injury cases, as insurance companies typically pay out for physical injuries.

2. It’s All About Negligence

Remember the example of the stairway railing? Imagine instead that there had been a prominent sign posted stating not to use the railing or that the railing was going to be fixed soon. If you still used the railing, fell, and broke your leg, you probably wouldn’t have much of a case because the store was not being negligent.

In a personal injury case, you also need to prove that there was negligence on behalf of that company. This railing example would be known as a premises liability lawsuit and can be filed against the person or entity in control of those premises. Personal injury claims come up frequently in cases where there are defective products, professional malpractice, or abuse as a result of nursing home negligence. The most common personal injury cases tend to be car accidents, product liability, dog bites, and slip and fall accidents.

3. Compensation for a Personal Injury Claim

There are two kinds of compensation you can expect from your personal injury claim: economic and non-economic.

Economic compensation is what most of us think of when we think of compensation: money to pay for our actual losses, that is, medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages.

Non-economic compensation is a little different. You’re still being paid money, but it’s to compensate for the damages of pain and suffering, which may not have a monetary value. Some states have a set “cap” for these pain and suffering cases, so you cannot win more than that set amount for your case.

An example of a pain and suffering case would be a medical malpractice claim, such as if a doctor failed to diagnose or misdiagnosed your symptoms. They could have also misread or ignored laboratory results or failed to order the proper tests (or failed to order tests at all). This is negligence on their part and is a violation of the standard of care. In this case, however, it’s not enough to have suffered the malpractice. You also must show that you were injured due to their negligence or that your injury resulted in significant damages.

4. What Is the First Thing I Should Do After an Accident?

The order of operations is important, and you should make sure to have all your ducks in a row. This makes everything move a lot faster (having all of your information ready to go may also lend you a little more credibility) and will get you your compensation faster.
After an accident, make sure to gather information for the other people involved. Gather names, phone numbers, and addresses for the people who injured you and for any witnesses. Keep a careful record of your symptoms, injuries, doctors’ visits, payments you’ve made, wages you’ve lost, and other information that seems important. Take pictures of the space, of the vehicles, and of your injuries, and write everything down as well. Include medical treatments that are recommended for you by medical experts and how much those treatments cost.

Representation

Individuals can represent themselves in cases like this, but it’s not really recommended. Besides, you’re still recovering from an accident that’s probably sapping your energy and causing anxiety. It may cost some money to hire a personal injury lawyer, but having a professional in your corner who knows what they’re doing, who can investigate your claim, who knows your rights, who can speak with your insurance company, and who can argue your case in court will give you great peace of mind. You’ll feel a lot better than if you were trying to handle it yourself.

The more information you can assemble about your situation, the easier it will be for one of our personal injury lawyers to argue your case and help you with your recovery, both mentally and physically. A good personal injury lawyer will also know which questions to ask and how to further investigate and gather other evidence to help your claim, such as gathering surveillance camera footage, finding additional witnesses, and obtaining police reports.

If you’ve been in an accident, the Warren Allen team can help you get back on your feet as soon as possible. Insurance companies will try to minimize the payments you receive, but we’ll fight for your fair compensation after an accident or injury. Contact us today.

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What Are the Responsibilities of a Personal Injury Lawyer?

When you experience a personal injury, which can be an injury to the mind or body, it isn’t always easy to get the compensation you deserve. Figuring out who will pay for your expenses can be a huge hassle, and finding a way to get it resolved may seem impossible on your own. Though it may seem simple enough to prove your injury, this process can often become more complex and require a professional eye to investigate, prove, and argue your case.

A personal injury lawyer will assist you in receiving compensation after suffering from such an injury by doing the handwork, which involves more steps than you’d expect. Our lawyers at Warren Allen LLP serve Oregon and have experience with many types of personal injury cases. We can provide the help you desperately need during situations like this. A personal injury lawyer takes on a variety of tasks to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. Here are a few of the responsibilities that personal injury lawyers have.

Be Qualified and Educated

Not everyone is qualified to represent you and your personal injury case. A qualified personal injury lawyer will have completed extensive education to receive their title, giving them the knowledge to navigate your situation in the smartest way possible. This includes obtaining an undergraduate degree and then going on to complete training at an accredited law school.

After obtaining both degrees, an individual will also have to take a series of tests to prove their knowledge of the law. The Law School Administration Test (LSAT), Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), and the bar exam are all tests that personal injury lawyers are required to pass. Depending on the state you live in, there may be even more examination requirements for your lawyer. A professional personal injury lawyer will have made these qualifications their responsibility before providing services.

Investigate the Claim

Once you hire a personal injury lawyer to take on your case, that person will be responsible for gathering the information needed to prove your right to compensation. This goes much further than a simple “he said, she said.” A personal injury lawyer will collect significant evidence to support your case. This can include acquiring surveillance footage of your accident, finding witnesses, hiring an investigator to further look into the situation, and obtaining police reports.

These lawyers will gather all the necessary information and examine it as evidence to support your case. Gathering all of this evidence can be a difficult task, but having enough of it can make the difference between winning and losing your case. A good personal injury lawyer will take this responsibility seriously and do everything in their power to gather as much evidence as they can.

Explain Your Rights to You

Not everyone is as well-versed with the law as a personal injury lawyer, and that’s okay. The education that a personal injury lawyer receives gives them more knowledge than the average person about the law, which can be a relief when you aren’t sure about what rights you have regarding your personal injury. The law was created to protect individuals in situations like this, but it’s up to your team to know which laws can protect you.

It’s your lawyer’s job to explain to you what rights you have regarding your personal injury as well as the compensation you’re eligible for. Once they fully understand your case and have collected the proper evidence, your lawyer will be able to tell you what you should expect from your injury and what you’re entitled to receive because of it.

Communicate with Insurance Companies

Depending on how you sustained your personal injury, you may have to deal with an insurance company that’s in charge of your compensation. Insurance companies may not have your best interests in mind, and they may try to offer you compensation lower than you deserve. These situations can become difficult, and knowing how to properly interact with an insurance company is important.

When you have a personal injury lawyer on your side, you won’t have to worry about having discussions with insurance companies, as your lawyer will handle those interactions. They take on the responsibility of speaking on your behalf and conversing in a way that’s in your best interest. With their knowledge from other cases and education, they can work to negotiate a payment that’s fair for you. This can take a lot of stress off you and allow you to avoid potential manipulation from an insurance company.

Prepare the Client for Deposition

In many cases, a deposition is required. A deposition is the process of giving sworn evidence and can often be an intimidating aspect of a personal injury case. It’s the personal injury lawyer’s job to prepare clients for this deposition, by getting all of the facts together in an effort to produce the most honest portrayal of the events that led to injury.

Though the truth isn’t hard to tell, knowing and remembering all of the details necessary to give a full telling of your situation may take practice. Your lawyer will both prepare you for and allow you to practice giving your deposition so that it’s as complete as possible.

Represent You in Court

No one wants to have to go to trial for their case. A lawyer will do everything possible to have your case settled before it gets to that point. Many personal injury cases can be settled much earlier in the process, such as during litigation or mediation or through negotiations. Still, sometimes coming to an agreement can be a challenge and your case will have to go to trial.

If this is the case, your personal injury lawyer will have the responsibility of representing you at trial. This includes presenting the evidence they’ve obtained to a judge and maybe jury and preparing you beforehand for this experience. This situation and the instances that come beforehand are why hiring a personal injury lawyer is so important. Their expertise can get you through this process and lead you to the compensation you deserve.

Car Insurance Claims

What Are the Common Legal Claims in Motor Vehicle Accidents?

No one expects to be in a motor vehicle accident. Unfortunately, you’re at risk whenever you get into a car. All drivers have a responsibility to be as safe as they can be on the road, but in the instance that you are in a motor vehicle accident, you need to be prepared with a plan of action.

What Kind of Claims Are Commonly Made in Motor Vehicle Accidents?

Motor vehicle accidents are frightening and messy events, and seeking financial settlements from any of the parties involved can quickly become complicated. That’s why before you seek any legal action, you should consult with a trusted law firm, such as Warren Allen LLC. Determining the extent of damages to claim, as well as who should be named in any claims, is best left to the professionals. When it comes to understanding the basics of the claims, the most important things for you to know are the different kinds of damages that can have legal standing. You’re your best advocate when assessing any financial or material loss, so it’s best to be armed with the knowledge of what claims are available to you.

Property Damage Claims

In the event of a collision, insurance can help cover the costs associated with lost or damaged property. Depending on the coverage provided and the extent of the damage, your damages may exceed the amount covered by the policy.

1. Damage to Your Vehicle

After any motor vehicle accident, take your car to a mechanic or garage you trust to get an estimate of the cost of repairs. If the estimate goes beyond any insurance payments, you may be able to seek a claim to cover the remaining bill.

2. Damage to Your Possessions

If any of your possessions have been damaged due to another driver’s negligence beyond the amount that insurance will cover, you may be able to make property damage claims. You shouldn’t expect to be able to make a claim for every single item in your vehicle, but any larger or more expensive items that were damaged or lost in the incident may present a more solid case.

Personal Injury Claims

Often, the more costly expenses from motor vehicle accidents are related to personal harm or injury. This is because injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents can have a much longer-lasting financial impact, often due to medical treatment or physical recovery. Claims of this nature can cover a wide variety of expenses, so it’s worth keeping them in mind.

1. Medical Expenses

Depending on the severity of injuries suffered by you or anyone else in your vehicle, a motor vehicle accident can result in rapidly building medical bills. Sometimes these bills are covered by either your or the other driver’s insurance, but in the event of more serious injuries, the cost may go far beyond any coverage. Emergency room visits, diagnostic tests like scans or x-rays, and even ambulance rides can quickly balloon medical costs.

Even after the initial emergency room visit, you may be facing even more medical bills for future treatment. Follow up visits, prescriptions, or even surgery may end up becoming necessary, and that’s if there’s a clear path to recovery. In the worst-case scenario, you may end up suffering from a chronic condition due to the collision. Obviously, if you’re recovering from severe physical trauma, you should by no means sacrifice your health for financial reasons. If your current and future medical expenses are growing way beyond your control, you may be able to cover it through a legal claim.

2. Physical Therapy Costs

Similar to medical costs, any physical therapy that you need to receive due to a motor vehicle accident may be covered through a legal claim. This can extend to any rehabilitation to regain physical capabilities you may have lost in the course of the collision, as well as any assistive devices, such as crutches or a wheelchair.

3. Loss of Income

Beyond the straightforward expenses for medical services or physical therapy, you may also be entitled to compensation for wages lost due to a motor vehicle accident. While many insurance plans offer wage replacement funds for individuals who are unable to return to work for medical reasons, it may not be enough to cover the entirety of lost wages. If you end up unable to work for an extended period of time due to a collision, you may be able to make a claim to cover said lost wages. This can extend beyond any wages lost before going to court as well.

If it’s determined that you will be out of work for an extended period of time into the future, you may qualify for additional compensation. This is legally termed as “lost earning capacity,” referring to the income a person will lose due to their inability to return to work in the future. If you’re unable to return to work for some time, or if you’re unable to return to your job at all due to injuries sustained, you may be able to seek a claim to cover the financial loss.

What Should I Do If I’m in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to be in an accident, you know how confusing and chaotic those first few minutes can be. The best way to walk away from a motor vehicle accident is to already have a concrete plan of action in mind whenever you get into a car.
The first and most important thing to do after a collision is to pull over and assess any injuries. If no one is in immediate need of your help, waste no time in calling 911. Even if you think there are no serious injuries, it’s critical you get professional aid to the scene of the collision.

After that, exchange information with the other driver and document, document, document! It’s extremely important you get a clear picture of the scene and damage in the moment, both for insurance reasons and for any potential legal claims you may end up making. If you aren’t sure whether or not you have a case, reach out to a reputable legal counsel. Motor vehicle accidents are horrible ordeals, but you don’t have to face the aftermath alone.

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