It’s a universal dilemma, and one that thousands of Oregon motorists have asked themselves after being injured because of another road user’s negligence: “Do I really need a Portland personal injury lawyer to look after my claim?”
What kind of answer would you expect to receive on an injury attorney’s blog? Well, it may shock you then to hear that the real answer is you may not need to hire a lawyer in some situations. It depends very much on the myriad of details surrounding each individual’s case.
The main reason people elect not to use the services of an attorney is because they simply don’t want to “share” their compensation. Contingency fees (a fee that is charged only if and when you win your case) of 33% are about average, and that might seem like a lot. However, you should also consider the many reasons you should retain the services of a personal injury lawyer.
The lawyer has a good idea of what you can expect
It’s no fun to fight in the dark, and in many cases, people try to take on the insurance companies without a notion of what to expect in terms of an offer, or how the insurance company will delay paying a claim, deny a claim to begin with, or defend claims that should never see the inside of a courtroom.
Yet these are three of the most frequent tactics Oregon insurance companies employ to maximize profits, and particularly when they’re dealing with an individual, and not a Portland personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney will, without question, get the attention of the insurance companies, who will know from the beginning that there’s no point stalling or allowing an indefensible case get to the courthouse steps in the hopes the claimant will accept a reduced offer.
Whereas an insurance company will often gamble on an individual not taking them to court (after all, they mustn’t want to go to court or they would have hired an attorney!) in the event they can’t agree on a settlement, the insurers don’t have that luxury once they see an attorney is involved. That’s all the more reason they should settle quickly and fairly.
The attorney will also be able to let you know the amount of compensation you should be receiving, another fact not lost on the insurance companies. This cuts back on the often ludicrously low offers insurers initially make to individuals representing themselves.
The lawyer knows what you need to get the most from your claim
Apart from your doctor’s bills, what do you think you need to convince the insurance company to pay a fair and just settlement? Do you know where to go to get what you need? A Portland personal injury lawyer does, and what’s more, they’ll get it on your behalf, saving you considerable time and inordinate stress, both of which you can do without at the best of times but particularly after you’ve been injured in an accident. For example, your personal injury attorney will:
- Get a detailed report from your doctor as to the extent of your injuries
- Find out what the likelihood is of ongoing treatment being required
- Determine (with help from specialists) what kind of future complications you could reasonably expect to arise from your injuries
- Get an economist’s report to ascertain the total level of financial losses you will incur due to your injury, a figure that is invariably significantly higher than just medical bills and lost wages
The lawyer is an advocate for you
Facing questions from an insurance company’s legal representative is a daunting prospect for any individual. Every fact will be twisted and construed in the insurer’s favor. If you have an experienced litigator on your side, that threat is greatly diminished, and again, the likelihood is that once you’ve retained a personal injury attorney, the insurance company is far less likely to let the case get to court.
In addition, while no one knows the pain and suffering you’ve endured better than you do, a skilled lawyer will be able to explain to you the things you should not say in a courtroom. Emotional people under strain often say things which ultimately damage their case and reduce the amount of compensation they receive.
In addition, an experienced attorney will not let you make any of the mistakes that can destroy your case, such as:
- Missing a filing deadline
- Being unaware of your rights
- Signing a declaration or statement for the insurance adjuster that will be used against you in court
Cases where you might not need a lawyer
If you’re still determined to proceed without the services of a Portland personal injury lawyer, there are actually some instances where you could be as well off acting on your own. For example, if you’ve suffered a soft tissue injury and the value of a case is less than $5,000, you possibly won’t find much difference in the compensation offered by the insurance company as if you were represented by a lawyer. Then again, how would you know for certain that the value of the case is less than $5,000?
The bottom line is that if you’ve been seriously injured because someone else made a bad decision, then there’s no question about it. You should contact a dedicated Portland personal injury lawyer to look after your interests, deal with the insurance companies and maximize the compensation you receive.
Even if you’re not sure, you should speak to a personal injury attorney before making any contact with the insurance company. Initial consultations usually cost nothing, and they’ll give you a good idea of whether or not you’d be better off going it alone, or alongside an experienced professional.