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  • Portland personal injury attorney Michael Colbach, Oregon

    Portland Personal Injury Attorney

Medical Bills, Insurance Coverage, Wage Loss, Case Evaluation

How soon after personal injury accident should I call you?

Call me immediately. Do not give the other person’s insurance company a statement until you have consulted with a lawyer. I make a point of returning all calls and e-mails promptly. If you have suffered a personal injury, you need to know right away what insurance coverage is in place to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.

Will I get to talk to a lawyer if I call?

Yes. Everyone who calls for a free consultation gets to talk to a lawyer. I do not have my staff screen cases. Usually you will get to talk to a lawyer right away or later the same day.

Should I call you even if I want to handle my claim myself?

Yes. In a few minutes over the phone I can usually give you an estimate of what your claim is worth so you don't get ripped off by the insurance company. If they give you an offer and you later hire me, I will not charge you a fee unless I can increase the amount that goes into your pocket.

What is my claim worth?

The value of your car accident injury claim depends on the severity and permanency of your injuries. Contact me now for a free consultation so I can assess your claim and tell you what I think it is worth.

Can I recover if the other driver had no insurance?

Yes. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can recover money for your medical bills and pain and suffering even if the other driver had no insurance.

Does my auto insurance cover accidents when I am on my bike?

Many auto policies will cover you if you are injured in a bicycle accident or while on foot.

How do I know if I have a good auto accident or personal injury case?

You need to contact me and we can discuss your case. My consultation on a personal injury case is always free.

How long does it take to settle most personal injury cases?

It depends on the nature of your personal injury claim. I have settled many policy limits cases within 90 days of taking the cases. The bigger your case is, the longer it usually takes to get it settled or take it to trial. I don't sit on cases when they come through the door, my staff and I literally start working on them the day we get your intake paperwork. I work hard to get your case resolved as quickly as possible, but it can take some time to get a fair amount. The majority of the cases I handle either settle or go to trial within one year you hiring me. Once your personal injury case is settled, I can usually put a check in your hand within 14 days.

Will pursuing my personal injury case take up a lot of my time?

No. Oftentimes I only meet with clients for the initial interview and then we can just talk over the phone. If we do have to go to court, it will take more time. I realize your time is important, so I don’t waste it.

Will I have to go to trial?

The vast majority of personal injury cases don’t go to trial. However, I treat each case as if it is going to be a trial, as you have to be willing to go to trial to maximize your settlement.

Do I need an Oregon personal injury lawyer?

In order to settle your personal injury and auto accident case you will have to deal with insurance companies. Their goal is to pay you as little as you will take. It is tough for someone who is not familiar with personal injury cases to know what a fair settlement amount is. An experienced attorney can help you to determine that amount and reach a fair settlement.

What if the person who hit me does not have any insurance?

When my clients are hit by someone who does not have insurance, I can usually get them more money that if they were hit by someone with insurance. The reason for this is that the lawsuit will be you versus your insurance company, and juries tend to award more money in these cases, so insurance companies tend to pay more in these cases. When you sue the other driver’s insurance company, the insurance company’s name is not on the lawsuit and the jurors are not told that the other driver has insurance. Although the other driver never has to pay out of their pocket, the jurors don’t know this and sometimes award less money than if they knew insurance would be paying the judgment.

Who pays my medical bills?

Most Oregon auto insurance policies have Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, no-fault healthcare coverage that covers your accident related medical expenses for up to one year or $15,000. Oregon Senate Bill 411 made a slight but important modification that extends PIP coverage for medical bills following an accident from one year to two years (the new law went into effect on January 1, 2016, effective on policies issued or renewed on or after that date).

Unfortunately, insurance companies do not like to pay these bills and will often times send you to an “independent” medical exam, where you are evaluated by a doctor who works for companies that mainly do exams for insurance companies. These doctors almost always say what the insurance companies want them to say, regardless of what your treating doctor says. If your treating doctor believes the treatment is related to the accident, I can almost always get the insurance company to pay the medical expenses, and I do not charge my clients for helping get their medical bills paid.

What if my medical bills are more than my Personal Injury Protection coverage limit?

If your medical bills exceed your personal injury protection coverage, or your treatment goes on for more than two years, your personal injury protection insurance will no longer pay your bills. You are then personally responsible for any bills in excess of your personal injury protection coverage. If you have healthcare coverage, oftentimes they will pay for any treatment in excess of your personal injury protection coverage, but they usually will want to be paid back out of any settlement or judgment you get.

The doctors are coming after me for unpaid bills, can you help?

I routinely work with doctor and healthcare providers to keep them from sending my clients to collections for unpaid bills. Often, I can keep them from sending bills to collections if we agree in writing that we will pay them first once we get paid on a settlement or judgment. When there is not enough insurance coverage to pay all of the bills, I can usually get healthcare providers to reduce their bills low enough that there is still money leftover for my clients.

I am out of work as a result of my injuries. Can you help me?

Yes. Your personal injury protection insurance provides wage loss for up to 52 weeks after your accident. My staff and I work with your doctors and your insurance company to make sure you are promptly paid the maximum amount of your wage loss benefits. If your injuries are permanent and you are forced to find a new line of work, the other party should have to pay for any future lost wages and retraining costs. I can hire a vocational rehabilitation expert to determine how much your future lost wages and retraining expenses will be, so we can make these costs part of any settlement or judgment.

I don't want to bankrupt somebody. What happens to the person I sue?

Although the lawsuit will have the other driver’s name on it, we are actually going after the insurance company’s money. In virtually every case, the person we sue does not have to pay a penny, as their insurance company pays the settlement or verdict amount, as well as all of the legal fees. In the three cases where I have received verdicts bigger than the policy limits, the insurance companies still paid, as it was their fault for not settling for the policy limits.