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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 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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You’ve Been in a Car Accident: Now What?

Ever heard the saying, “Hope for the best, expect the worst”? That’s the approach you have to take when it comes to car accidents. You need to prepare for the worst because the unexpected can certainly happen.

We never want to imagine ourselves or our loved ones in a car accident. But if we prepare ahead of time, we’ll have a better sense of what to expect if it ever occurs. That makes dealing with what comes next a little easier.

Warren Allen LLP has worked with many clients who have been involved in a car accident. Here’s what you need to know on-scene and what to expect afterward.

Check If Anyone Is Injured

The first thing you want to do if you’ve been involved in a car accident is to make sure everyone is okay. Check those in the car with you and any other people involved in the crash. If someone appears injured and you’re able to call for help, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. If the situation is an emergency, call 911 right away.

Even if you don’t feel injured and decline medical attention at the time of the accident, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor afterward. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, and some people don’t feel pain until a day or two after the accident. That’s why it’s important to get checked out on-site or to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you’re able.

Move Your Car to a Safe Place

You should also make sure that if you’re in harm’s way and you’re able to move your vehicle, you do so. Always make sure you’re in the safest place possible and use your hazard lights to alert other drivers to the presence of your car. If you’re unsure whether you should move your car, ask the dispatcher for advice. Which leads us to the next step.

Call the Police

Once you have checked for injuries and called for help if necessary, you should contact the police. You will need to file a police report to start an insurance claim and to establish who is at fault for the accident.

Once an officer arrives, they will ask questions to determine what happened. Answer them to the best of your ability. If you’re unsure of the answer, it’s okay to tell the officer that.

Try to avoid making assumptions about what may have happened. Provide what details you remember, and be sure to inform the officer of any statements provided by other people that you believe to be untrue.

Also, remember to never assume responsibility for the accident on-scene. Even if you believe the accident to be your fault, stick with the facts and avoid taking the blame until the accident can be properly investigated.

Take Photos

It may take the responding officer some time to arrive. But there are things you can do while you’re waiting to save time.

First, take photos of your car and any other cars involved in the accident. Documenting the scene may help provide evidence to bolster your claim if a dispute arises later.

You may also want to jot down a few notes about what happened in case you’re asked to recall something about the accident later on. You should also take photos of any visible injuries you have as a result of the accident.

Exchange Information

Once the officer arrives on the scene, they should collect insurance and ID information from everyone involved and help facilitate its exchange. However, you can also gather this information yourself as you’re waiting for the officer to arrive.

If you collect this information yourself, be sure to ask for the names and contact information of all the drivers and passengers involved in the accident, including driver’s license numbers. Ask for their insurance companies and policy numbers and jot down information about the cars involved, such as make, year, and model. Also, make note of the license plate numbers.

If there are any witnesses on the scene, be sure to get their contact information as well. The responding officer should provide you with a copy of the police report with the officer’s name and badge number on it, but if not, jot it down. Finally, make note of the accident location with the exact address if you have it.

Contact Your Insurance Agent

You should contact your insurance agent to file a claim as soon as possible, but you’ll want to complete the other steps first because your insurance agent will need this information to process the claim. For instance, your agent will likely ask you for the police report number and for the insurance information of the other people involved in the accident.

Your insurance agent will then go over the claims process. For example, if you require medical attention, your insurance agent will let you know if your medical expenses are included in your coverage. Your agent will also inform you of any deductible you need to pay or any other out-of-pocket expenses for which you’re responsible.

If your car is damaged and needs to be towed, your insurance agent should be able to contact a tow company for you. Your insurance agent will also have a list of repair shops for you to choose from for your repair work. And if you need a rental car, your insurance agent can make a reservation for you.

Keep a Record of Receipts

Be sure to keep a record of all receipts for expenses made as a result of the accident. For instance, if you need to take a ride share service to the rental car company, be sure to retain that receipt.

Keep a record of all expenses you incur related to the accident. Your insurance company may reimburse you for them, which is why it’s important you keep a detailed record.

Contact an Attorney

Hopefully, the above steps are the only ones you’ll need to complete. However, sometimes disputes arise over who is responsible for the car accident, and you’ll need to obtain legal representation. Or you may have suffered serious injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, and you will need to retain a personal injury lawyer.

If either of these situations occurs, you’ll want to have an advocate on your side to help you navigate them. That’s where Warren Allen can help. We can provide advice, help you resolve disputes, and ensure you get the compensation you’re entitled to receive.

A car accident is a terrible thing to experience. But we want to make what follows go as smoothly as possible. That’s why we work to get you the best resolution we can.

 

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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.

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