Oregon personal injury law is complicated, and if you are determined not to hire a lawyer, you need to be prepared for a lot of legal research and time spent organizing records, communications, and negotiating.
Negotiating Your Own Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury cases are multi-faceted minefields, and any misstep can seriously undermine your claim, which is why you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. However, if the decision has been made to proceed without official legal representation, then there are a number of things to be wary of, and we offer them to you here.
- Make sure you have plenty of photographic evidence. Take—and hold on to—photos of the scene of the accident, any vehicles involved and any visible injuries you sustained. Without this kind of documented evidence, it will be difficult to establish either liability or credibility.
- Get the medical treatment you need, but no more than that. Some people mistakenly believe that if they pile up medical bills by getting as much treatment as possible, they are increasing the value of this claim. If the insurance company can prove you got more treatment than was necessary, your claim will be drastically diminished, but you’ll still be left with the medical bills. Insurance companies will carefully scrutinize every bill you put forward, so be sure to get enough treatment to help you heal fully and quickly, but don’t try to “pad” your case with unnecessary treatment.
- Insurance adjusters will tell accident victims that in order to expedite their claim, it will be necessary for the injured party to give a recorded statement and to be examined by an “independent” medical examiner of the insurance company’s choosing. This is, in most cases, utter rubbish. The insurance company is effectively asking you to provide the bullets they’ll use to shoot down your own case later on, if it ever goes to court. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with an uninsured or under-insured case, then some insurance companies actually do require examinations and statements. For Oregon injury settlements, this is one of the trickiest areas a claimant will face, and one of the best reasons of all for being represented by a competent personal injury attorney.
Understand the Statute of Limitations
Another factor that can destroy perfectly valid Oregon injury settlements is the statute of limitations. In Oregon, time limits for filing claims vary, depending on whether you’re suing an individual, state or local government, and even the kind of injury you’ve sustained. Different time limits exist for injuries to children, and specific conditions apply to filing wrongful death claims. Anyone attempting to handle their own case must be totally aware of these time limits, because if the statute of limitations for filing a claim has expired by as much as an hour, the case will be thrown out, regardless of the rest of its worth.
While it’s important that you are honest with your health care provider, it’s equally crucial to remember that anything you tell them will end up in your medical records, and that these may come out in court. If your claim involves injuries to your back, it would be foolish not to let your doctor know that you injured it eight years ago while skiing in British Columbia. On the other hand, you might want to leave out the part where you were skiing in nothing more than your underwear, because you were drunk and had taken a bet from one of your friends. The fact is, the insurance company’s investigators will absolutely know you had a previous back injury, so lying about that will destroy your case. The rest of that scenario is pretty irrelevant to them, so the moral of the story is never to lie, but don’t offer up any information that no one really needs to know. Always be 100% accurate with anything you write down; failure to follow this advice will certainly come back to haunt you.
Other Do’s and Dont’s of Negotiating Your Personal Injury Claim
Insurance claims adjusters frequently offer, in the nicest possible way, to collect your medical bills and records for you, allowing you to just get the medical treatment you need, if you’ll just sign a simple medical authorization form. Bad idea. This allows them to go through your entire medical history and gather evidence to use against you to reduce your settlement. The beauty for them is that you’ve given them written permission to do so!
Oregon injury settlements involve a lot of paper work. You’ll need to get copies of all your medical bills and records, as well as documentation of lost wages and any other legitimate expenditures. These documents should then be organized and indexed in chronological order, and sent to the insurance company with a demand for settlement. The problem here, once again, is that without the advice of a personal injury lawyer, many people have no idea how much to demand. If the demand is too low, the insurance company (while delighted) will still come back with a counter offer that is considerably lower than what you’ve asked. If it’s too high, they will deny the claim and delay getting it to court for as long as possible, landing you with additional expense and uncertainty. The rule of thumb here would be, if you’re unsure of how much to ask for and you still don’t want to use a personal injury attorney, it’s probably better not to demand anything and wait to see what the insurance company offers, if anything.
People trying to save money by filing for Oregon injury settlements will find the process is exceptionally complex, often frustrating and invariably time consuming. Following the guidelines mentioned above will certainly help make you aware of the many legal pitfalls to be wary of, but in the vast majority of cases, we also hope it’s clear that the safest, quickest and ultimately the most cost effective and rewarding route is to use the services of a highly respected and successful Portland personal injury attorney. They deal with the insurance companies and courts every day and know how to present your case in such a way as to achieve the maximum compensation in the shortest time and the least disruption to your own life.