"Before you sign legal forms or speak with an insurance adjuster or give your recorded statement, make sure to educate yourself thoroughly. You must understand what you are signing, why you need to do this, who is going to see that information and how long will it be kept and where. Even though you have nothing to hide, no one else needs to have a free access to your personal records any time they feel like it." - Personal Injury Attorney Bart Herron
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The short answer is: absolutely not. This depends upon the case circumstances, your damages, and fault.
First of all, you are not legally required to have an attorney handle your claim. It is possible to file all the legal paperwork yourself and to be your own representative in court. That said, your chances of prevailing in the case and getting fair compensation are higher if you have a skilled personal injury attorney fighting for you.
Some cases may require expert witnesses, to sort through documents from the defense, and to generally provide strong evidence about the accident and injuries to prove your case so you get as much compensation as possible. If the case does not go to court, you will need to know how to handle negotiations with tough attorneys and insurance companies for the defense.
Remember that the other party’s insurance company handles these cases every day. Their goal is to pay you as little money as possible. Most injured people who lack legal experience will end up with less money if they represent themselves.
An experienced personal injury attorney is able to level the playing field during negotiations, navigate the process of pretrial, take the case to trial if necessary, and fight for the compensation for medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering you deserve.
Many people do not realize that only 4% or 5% of personal injury cases ever go to trial. The other personal injury cases are settled out of court. Thus, many personal injury attorneys have more experience with settlements than trials. Still, it is impossible to know when your personal injury case might go to court. The insurance company may insist on paying you less than you deserve, and there could be a good chance that a jury will see things differently. If you do need to go to trial, you want to have an attorney with experience winning verdicts.
Also, keep in mind that a personal injury attorney with trial experience is not just helpful if the case goes to trial. Trial experience is also helpless during the negotiation and settlement phase. Experts generally agree that you are more likely to get a higher settlement when you are using a lawyer with trial experience.
Having an attorney who has a track record winning personal injury verdicts sends a message to the other legal team. You are letting the other attorney know that you are ready to go to court if you need to, and you have a good chance of prevailing. This can be an effective psychological strategy on the defense. To choose a good attorney is not easy. Ask your friends, coworkers, family members first, then go online and do your own research on Google.
The US Department of Justice states that the most frequent personal injury cases are car accidents (52%), medical malpractice and medical errors (15%) and product liability (5%). Even though most cases do end up in settlement, cases where there are serious injuries and damages involved, can end up going to court. A personal injury attorney with years of experience and results in court will be able to provide you with the best possible chance of winning in court and getting as much compensation as possible.
The majority of car accident lawyers charge their clients on a contingency basis. Unlike most attorneys in other fields (such as immigration, tax and criminal defense), car accident attorneys usually will not get paid any fees unless you recover money in the lawsuit. So, your attorney does not get paid unless you do – they actually get paid a percentage of what you win. Most Oregon personal injury attorneys will charge 33% total sum recovered.
Not all personal injuries warrant filing a lawsuit or claim, but if the accident would not have happened except for the negligence of another person, filing a claim could be the best way to recover compensation for your injuries.
To decide if you want to file a claim, it is natural to wonder how much you may be able to recover. It is difficult to make any generalizations about the value of cases because each is very different. That is why it is a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney early on; he is experienced with many types of accident cases and may be able to give you some guidance about what similar cases as your have resulted in compensation in the past.
To determine what the claim could be worth, the first thing the personal injury attorney will look at are your actual damages. These also are called economic damages. These include your:
- Medical costs: After an accident, you may have a pile of medical bills that you cannot pay. In a serious accident, you could have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills. You attorney will look at these bills to give you an idea of what you should be able to recover.
- Lost wages: You may have missed work in the past and will in the future due to your injuries. Your attorney can calculate the amount of wages you have lost and what you may lose in the future.
- Lost benefits: You may miss out on bonuses, commissions or a pension.
The other part of the claim your attorney will review with you are your non-economic damages. These are more difficult to calculate; your attorney will review similar cases to your in your area to provide you an idea of what you may be entitled to:
- Pain and suffering: If you have endured physical pain and/or mental suffering from your injuries, you may be compensated for this. A daily rate may be used to determine this amount. That rate will then be multiplied by the days you have been suffering pain to arrive at a figure.
- Loss of consortium: Awarded when you cannot have an intimate relationship with your spouse or partner.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: Injuries may be so severe that you cannot engage in hobbies you once enjoyed
Your attorney can help you to arrive at a ballpark estimate for your injury claim, but the exact amount cannot be assured until the case has been settled or a verdict reached.
There are several types of damages to which you are entitled in a motor vehicle crash caused by another party:
- Medical expenses: physical therapy, doctors’ visits, ambulance fees, in home services, permanent disability – past, current and future.
- Lost wages: A car accident can cause you to lose ability to earn a living. This may include your inability to work due to doctors’ appointments… Read More
After an accident, there are two ways you can collect damages from the person who was negligent. The defendant may, usually through her insurance company, offer a settlement that you can accept or reject. Or, you can sue the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit.
A settlement happens between the defendant and the plaintiff make a legal agreement about a payment for your injuries. The offer can be made and agreed to before a lawsuit is filed, or while the case is at trial; it even can come when the jury is deciding their verdict. Once the settlement is done, you relinquish all claims from that accident case.
Most personal injury cases settle before going to court, so most plaintiffs do not need to appear in court. Most insurance companies want to settle a case before trial because litigation is very expensive. Also, juries are notoriously unpredictable, and it is possible the insurance company and/or defendant could pay much more when the verdict comes.
Settlement can be beneficial to you the plaintiff as a trial takes weeks or months. If you have injuries, you probably want to get your money as soon as you can. So, it is unlikely that you would have to go to court for most personal injury cases, but cases with more damages may end up in court in some cases. For more information, talk to a personal injury attorney today for a free consultation.
To have the best chance of prevailing in a personal injury lawsuit, having a strong relationship between you and your attorney is important. A successful claim or lawsuit takes a lot of time and effort – on both sides. Your contacts with your personal injury attorney should be regular and productive; they should feature clear communication and all of your questions should be addressed quickly.
As a client, it is important to feel comfortable to call your lawyer directly. He should be available to speak to you within a reasonable time of your call, as well. While paralegals and administrative staff are helpful, they will never replace good, regular communication with your attorney.
Here are three good reasons our personal injury attorneys always want to stay in close contact with our clients:
- It can prevent gaps in medical treatment. If you have a serious auto accident, the treatment for the injuries can involve many appointments with several doctors. Gaps in treatment can damage your case. It is important to have your medical treatments completed in a timely manner. Regular communication with your lawyer ensures you are getting the care you need.
- Keep track of your injury recovery. If you are hurt in a car accident, you have a lot of things to worry about. You will have medical visits, legal appointments, legal documents, case materials, plus the physical pain of the injury. Talking to your attorney regularly ensures your case stays organized.
- Organized discovery. Discovery is the work that happens after the first meeting with your attorney. This is the exchange of details and information between each side of the lawsuit, such as documentary evidence, witness statements and other details. The discovery process can go for weeks or months. It requires active participation on your part, and talking to your attorney regularly will ensure discovery goes smoothly.
A personal injury attorney in Oregon may charge a different amount than another, but for the most part, attorneys in personal injury law will charge a contingency fee. This means that the injured person can often hire an experienced attorney skilled in personal injury law without facing large legal fees up front.
A contingency fee arrangement means that the fees for the attorney will be taken from the final settlement or verdict. Most personal injury attorneys in Oregon also will deduct any expenses they had during the case that they covered. The contingency fee percentage usually varies based upon the experience of the attorney and the stage of the case.
Most contingency fees in Oregon and across much of the US are between 33% and 40%. It is possible that you can negotiate a reduced agreement. In most Oregon personal injury cases, the attorney will receive 1/3 of the settlement. For example, if you get an offer of $30,000 from the defendant, you would get $20,000 and the attorney would get $10,000.
If you settle before filing a lawsuit, the attorney will still get a contingency fee, usually in the range of 33%. However, if the case settles after a lawsuit is filed, the attorney may receive a higher percentage of the settlement, usually up to 40%.
If you have filed a personal injury lawsuit against another person who injured you in some type of accident, that person has had a civil lawsuit filed against them. This matter is separate from any criminal charges the person might face.
For example, if a drunk driver hits you while you are walking through a crosswalk, he could face a criminal charge for injuring you and for the drunk driving. He could possibly be fined and even go to jail on these charges if convicted. In addition, you also can file a personal injury lawsuit against him. If you win this case, he could also have to pay for your injury damages, which can include your medical costs, lost and future wages, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and any property damage.
If the person was driving a car and hit you in a crosswalk, his auto insurance policy may pay you for your damages. However, some people either do not have insurance, or they only have minimal coverage. He might have only $25,000 of coverage for injuries for other people in an accident. If your injuries are more than that, he may have to pay out of pocket for the rest. If the defendant does not have the money, it is possible to garnish his wages or levy his bank accounts for the money. But doing that would require additional legal steps on your part that are beyond the scope of a personal injury settlement or verdict.
Depending upon the case and the attorneys involved, the defendant may either agree to a settlement or can take the case to trial. Many insurance companies prefer to settle personal injury claims out of court because they usually pay less than if the case goes to trial and they lose. This is especially true in drunk driving cases; few insurance companies want to risk a jury verdict on a drunk driving case as few Americans have sympathy for drunk drivers.
But in the end, it is up to the defendant and his attorneys about whether to settle or go to trial in your personal injury case.
If you are in a car accident and get an offer to settle from the other party’s insurance company, it is highly debatable whether you should accept it or not. It is important to remember that insurance companies are in business to make money. Their job is to pay out as little as possible, and they are really not looking out for your best interests. Insurance companies know that most people are not experienced in personal injury law and insurance negotiations. Usually, the first offer to settle from an insurance company is a low ball offer to see if you will take the minimum amount of money.
Keep in mind that if you are in an accident with injuries that were caused by the other party, you are owed monetary compensation for all of your related damages. This includes all of your past and future medical costs, lost income and pain and suffering. If you were in a serious accident, you should not even consider settling until you have completed all of your medical treatments. It is impossible to know how much you will heal only a few days or weeks after the accident. The insurance company probably wants to get off as easy as possible and would be delighted if you took a lowball offer before your medical treatments are finished.
To know if the offer is too low, you and/or your personal injury attorney should assess the following factors:
- Property damage to your vehicle and personal property
- Total cost of medical bills including future treatments
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Any ongoing disability you have from the accident
- Time lost from your job
- Ability to go back to work in same earning capacity
- Any other expenses related to the accident
States require you to have a certain level of auto insurance so that you have coverage in case you are in an accident. One of the required and most important parts of auto insurance policies is bodily injury liability insurance. This will pay for any injuries that you cause to other drivers if you are at fault in an accident. Depending upon the state you are in, it also may cover your medical expenses as well regardless of who was at fault (in no fault states).
Most states require you to have a certain level of bodily injury insurance to pay for the damages that you cause other drivers. States have various minimum amounts, but you can opt to have more insurance if you like. This is often a good idea especially if you have a lot of assets, as a personal injury lawsuit could be for an amount far above the minimum amount of required insurance.
A bodily injury policy is typically stated in a three-number format, such as 25/50/25. The first number is the amount that is covered for a single person in an accident – $25,000 of bodily injury. The second is the amount that is covered in the whole accident – $50,000. The third number states that the policy would cover up to $25,000 of property damage in an accident.
In Oregon, you are required to have insurance that covers $25,000 for one person’s injuries, and up to $50,000 per accident. But remember, this is only the minimum requirement, and it often a smart idea to carry more insurance than this. If you cause an accident that causes the other party $100,000 of personal injuries, you could be required to pay the rest out of your pocket.
It comes down largely to the extent of your injuries and the type of settlement you want. If you have minor injuries that are not more than a few thousand dollars, it is possible the case could be settled in a few weeks, but there are many exceptions.
Usually the insurance company that is on the hook for your injuries will make you a low ball offer within first few weeks of the accident. If you want to take a low offer, you can get it done fast. But the majority of clients do not want a low ball settlement; they want what they are entitled to.
To get the best settlement, the insurance company will need to review all of your medical bills and records. They need to determine what the injury was if you have any ongoing problems with it and what treatments may be needed in the future.
To make that assessment, the insurance company wants to see you get to the maximum medical improvement. So, it is possible for this to take months or even years to occur, if your injuries are serious enough. Once maximum medical improvement is reached, your attorney needs to get all medical records from health care providers, bills, employment records, etc. This can take one or two months after you have gotten to maximum medical improvement. This information is turned into the insurance company, and they may take a month to evaluate the claim.
At that point, the insurance company may take a few weeks to negotiate the claim, reach a settlement, get the settlement papers done and checks delivered. So, to get a good settlement, you could be looking at anywhere from three months to a year after the accident, depending on the case.
To get a better idea of how long your case will take to settle, talk to one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.
If you are hurt in an accident and hire a personal injury attorney, it is normal for the attorney to be paid on a contingency basis, meaning that he is compensated from any settlement or verdict amount you receive at the end of the case. This contingency fee varies but it is usually in the range of 33% of the settlement or verdict amount.
However, there may be more expenses and fees that you have to pay. Personal injury attorneys know that injured clients are often short of cash and may have difficulty paying for the various legal fees that come up as the case proceeds. It is customary for the attorney to pay for many of these fees out of pocket, and then to be reimbursed at the end from settlement or verdict proceeds.
Some of the fees that you may need to pay at the end of the case include:
- Expert witness fees
- Filing fees
- Costs to hire personal investigators
- Costs for obtaining and preparing medical records and police reports
- Trial exhibit costs
When you sit down with a personal injury attorney and are considering that he represent you, it is important to have a very clear understanding of what all the costs and fees will be. The contract should very clearly spell out what his contingency fee is and what his policy is on out of pocket costs and how they are reimbursed.
Our Portland personal injury attorneys handle many types of personal injury and other cases. If you have been injured in an accident by another person or party, we can help you to receive the compensation you deserve for your economic and non-economic injuries. Below is a summary of the cases we typically work on:
- Car accidents
- Dog bites
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bus accidents
- Train accidents
- Drowning accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
Also, if you have lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by another person, you have the right to sue to person in civil court. This is called a wrongful death action. Our attorneys will strive to show in civil court that the actions of the defendant were negligent and led to the death of your loved one. A wrongful death lawsuit can stem from many accidents; drunk driving, car accidents and truck accidents are especially common for wrongful death actions.
Our attorneys can also help you if you or a loved one was injured on a construction site. It is common for companies to cut corners on safety at job sites and to not provide proper training and safety equipment. This is usually a worker’s compensation case, but you may be able to file a lawsuit against a third party as well in some limited situations.
Our attorneys are highly experienced handling most types of personal injury cases and accidents. Please call our Portland law offices today for a free case review.
Your Medical Records. Who needs to see them and who doesn't?
If you have made a personal injury claim for a car accident with the insurance company for the other driver, the insurance adjuster will want to access to your medical records and treatments. While you probably have already sent copies of relevant medical records to the insurance company, they still may want more records that you have not provided. For example, you may have sent all the medical records regarding the injury from your doctor but not from the physical therapist. Read More
Who We Are
In 1998, Bart started as a sole practitioner providing legal services to the Oregon City area community.
Herron Law has now expended to all communities in Oregon and provides expert legal
representation in the areas of personal injury, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death claims, pedestrian accidents, dog bites claims, Criminal Code charges as well as serious Highway Traffic Act charges.
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Honors and Awards
I am really happy I was refereed to Bart Herron to help me with my case. I got all policy limits it was possible to get. They kept me informed all the way through the case until the end. I would always recommend this Herron Law firm if you need serious compensation for your injuries.
I just wanted to thank you, once again, for all the hard work and time that was spent on our case throughout the years. In my very honest opinion, I have always felt that you had all of our best interest at heart. So on behalf of my son and myself, I want to whole-heatedly Thank-You for being a very Caring and Compassionate Human Being…. U ROCK!!!! Lol…
Sometimes it takes more than a well-rounded education, years of experience, and an understanding of the psychology that separates prosecution from defense . . . sometimes it takes Guts to stay the course! We initially chose Mr. Herron based on AVVO reviews, his years of experience, his area of expertise, and even his physical appearance bearing in mind how our son might receive and interact with Mr. Herron and how Mr. Herron’s appearance might be perceived in the courtroom by juror’s. Just like you, we faced debilitating fear, gut wrenching anxiety, sleepless nights, the potential that justice would criminalize someone who was not a criminal but who had made a poor choice, and the possibility that our lives would be changed forever with no way to recover what was lost. Mr. Herron and Olga exercised patience, tolerance, understanding, reassurance and excellent communication skills when dealing with us. They never sugar coated the facts or the probabilities. They never held us in their laps. The bottom line . . . if you are looking for someone to coddle you and hand you tissues you might not be happy BUT if you want a team that will partner with you to help release the agonizing uncertainty of accusation and preserve all that you love and have worked for your whole life to achieve . . . If you want to plant the flag on top of Everest . . . Call Bartley Herron and Olga.