Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in Portland or Handle My Claim Myself?
Life happens, and that includes all kinds of injuries and accidents. An injury or accident could be a small annoyance: maybe your car only needs bodywork to take out some dents after a small collision. It could also be a terrible tragedy, such as if a loved one is killed on a jobsite. These are on opposite sides of the spectrum of personal injury claims: there are many other types of personal injury claims.
You may wonder in the aftermath if it’s worth hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim—after all, you’re a smart person, maybe the damage or the injury wasn’t a major disaster and maybe you don’t want to spend the extra money for a lawyer on top of those new medical bills or bills from your mechanic. In some cases, you may be able to handle it all on your own, either through insurance or through small claims court. But we want you to have all the facts to make an informed decision. Here are five things to consider about hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim.
1. Insurance Companies Are Complex Systems
Whenever there is a claim—no matter what type of claim it is or the severity of the situation—insurance companies often attempt to minimize the amount you receive. It’s how insurance companies make a profit: by not paying out as much as they could. Personal injury lawyers can help you navigate these waters—we’re more familiar with the verbiage and the loopholes the insurance companies may try to throw at you.
If you have already been offered the maximum insurance settlement possible, you may not need an attorney. For instance, if the person who injured you has an insurance policy worth $100,000, and you are awarded $100,000, you’ll have to have an extremely persuasive reason to go beyond that amount. If that person has assets or money and you feel it’s fair they pay that in addition to the $100,000, you’ll have to have a very good case for it.
2. Oregon Is an At-Fault State
The at-fault system is a more traditional system of filing accident and injury claims. In a nutshell, whoever is at fault in an accident is liable for repairs to vehicles or property, medical costs, and other damages.
Oregon is a little unusual, though, because there are some no-fault provisions (and the system could be argued as a hybrid of no-fault and at-fault—more on this later). In insurance policies for vehicles, for instance, there are built-in no-fault provisions. This means that car insurance providers also provide personal injury protection, which pays for injuries resulting from the ownership, use, or maintenance of a vehicle. Your car insurance policy should automatically have this if your car insurance was bought in Oregon.
3. What’s At Stake?
Managing your own claim and then later hiring a lawyer may complicate things, but you shouldn’t hesitate to get the help you need. Perhaps you feel your claim is easy enough—or low-stakes enough—that you feel comfortable handling it on your own but then decide you’d like assistance later. It’s to your benefit to contact one at this point rather than not at all.
Best practice, even if you’re not sure whether a personal injury lawyer is going to be helpful in your case, is to still contact one and get a consultation. They might be able to give you an idea of what you’re up against or important points you may not have thought about.
If you move forward and handle your own case, you could have a steep learning curve. For instance, you’ll want to be sure you know about the laws in your state. A personal injury attorney in Portland will be more aware of the Oregon Shared Fault Rules. Simply, these rules mean that the other person in your claim may also state that you’re partially at fault for the accident that occurred. Therefore, your share of the money you would have received may be reduced by a certain percentage, based on how much you are found to be at fault.
4. When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
The tipping point might be something small, or it may be the fact that your injuries end up being more major than you first thought. It may be difficult to justify paying the money for a personal injury lawyer, especially if you think your injuries are minor—bruises and scrapes instead of broken bones and time that you can’t work. You should consider, though, that sometimes seemingly minor injuries can turn into major ones. If your injuries are worse than your doctor initially thought but you’ve already received a settlement, that claim is closed and can never be reopened again.
A good lawyer will be able to advise you on whether to wait or move forward until you know the full extent of your injuries. There may also be “pain and suffering” damages involved that you may not be aware of.
Consider also that even if you have a minor injury, it may be difficult to keep a clear mind and be consistent when it comes to reading all the paperwork, doing all the research, or gathering all your materials. Delegating this kind of work to a lawyer will mean all you have to worry about is healing from the injury.
5. Warren Allen Attorneys at Law Is an Experienced Law Firm
It’s likely that, before you had a personal injury claim, you may not have had any kind of experience with the law. The law is always changing, too, and we keep up with each nuance and update. Our firm has been running in the same location since 1971, so whatever type of injury you’re dealing with, we’ve probably seen it before. Having that precedent and the background for this kind of work, we can help you get the money you need for your peace of mind and recovery. Contact us today for a consultation about your personal injury claim.