Portland Personal Injury Attorney
Over $49 million in verdicts and settlements in 15 years.
No Win = No Fee
I handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means: You don't owe me a legal fee unless I recover money for you.
Before you hire an attorney, make sure they are qualified. 95% of Oregon personal injury attorneys rarely, if ever, go to trial. Most are not very good at it and have had little success at trial. If you hire a lawyer who does not try cases, you are stuck taking whatever the insurance company offers. Anyone can say that they are aggressive and will fight for your rights. Make them prove it.
Without the threat of an attorney who is willing to go to trial and seek a big jury verdict, why would an insurance company pay you what your claim is really worth?
Trial attorney with experience can make the difference.
I am an experienced, aggressive trial lawyer who has tried over 140 jury trials and I have 25 years of courtroom experience as of 2018. I am not afraid to take your case to trial if that is what it takes to maximize the amount of money you recover for your personal injury. I offer one-on-one service, and I will not hand your case off to an inexperienced associate or paralegal.
Auto insurance companies do not get to determine the value of your Oregon car accident injury claim. It is up to you or a jury to determine the value of your Oregon car accident case.
Reduce the stress of making an insurance claim.
A serious injury can turn your life upside down. Making a personal injury claim can be difficult and time consuming. Once I take your case, you can stop worrying about dealing with the insurance companies and focus on recovering from your bicycle accident injuries. I take care of all of the paperwork, phone calls, and negotiations, so you can get on with your life.
Lawsuits can be expensive, and many people do not have the money to pursue their claim.
In every case, I advance all costs associated with pursuing your case and I do not ask you for a penny until we recover from the other side.
Portland Personal Injury Attorney
Michael Colbach is the main cash sponsor of the BicycleAttorney.com/racing team and Oregon Motorcycle Attorney proud to be affiliated with pro motorcycle racer Andy DiBrino.
I represent injured bicyclists. As a former bike racer myself, and currently a bicycle commuter, the bicycle accident cases that I handle are particularly meaningful to me. I started riding seriously in the mid 1990's when I sold my car and used my bicycle to commute from Wilsonville to Portland daily. I have put in over 30,000 miles on my bike and know what it is like to have to deal with careless drivers.
I have ridden thousands of miles on my street bike and know the dangers that motorcyclists face every time they get on a bike. In my experience, most motorcycle riders are very safe and cautious, as our life is on the line if we are not. I handle Oregon motorcycle injury cases as well as scooter and moped accident cases. Don't let the insurance company take advantage of you just because you are on two wheels.
Click on the question link below to jump down the page to the Answer.
Use the [ FAQ Question Index] Link to return to this numbered Questions Index.
- Medical Bills, Insurance Coverage, Wage Loss, Case Evaluation
- Hiring Your Oregon Personal Injury Attorney
- Rental Property Injury Liability
- Oregon Third Party Workers Compensation Claims
- Filing a claim against an Oregon Government Entity or Oregon State Employee
- How soon after personal injury accident should I call you?
- Will I get to talk to a lawyer if I call?
- Should I call you even if I want to handle my claim myself?
- What is my claim worth?
- What is PIP?
- Does my auto insurance cover accidents when I am on my bike or a pedestrian?
- How do I know if I have a good auto accident or personal injury case?
- How long does it take to settle most personal injury cases?
- Will pursuing my personal injury case take up a lot of my time?
- Will I have to go to trial?
- Do I need an Oregon personal injury lawyer?
- What if the person who hit me does not have any insurance?
- Who pays my medical bills?
- What if my medical bills are more than my Personal Injury Protection coverage limit?
- The doctors are coming after me for unpaid bills, can you help?
- I am out of work as a result of my injuries. Can you help me?
- What can I do if they refuse to pay my medical bills?
- Do I have to pay my insurance company back for my personal injury protection benefits?
- If more than one person in my household has Oregon personal injury protection insurance can more than one policy apply?
- How much personal injury protection insurance should I buy?
- I don't want to bankrupt somebody. What happens to the person I sue?
- Do all Oregon personal injury attorneys charge the same amount?
- What do you charge to handle an Oregon personal injury case?
- Should I accept the offer that the insurance company has given me?
- Why is it important to hire a lawyer who files cases?
- How do I pay your legal fees?
- What do you charge for recovering my medical expenses?
- Are there any hidden fees?
- Lawsuits can be expensive, will it cost me any money up front for filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees, and any other costs?
- Do you charge more for filing a lawsuit or going to court?
- What type of personal injury claims do you handle?
- I hear a lot of lawyers do not stay in touch with their clients. Will I have access to you if I have questions after hours or weekends?
- Do insurance companies treat lawyers who try cases differently than "trial cowards" that don't try cases?
- Do you handle on the job injuries?
- What parts of Oregon do you handle cases in?
- Why is it important that someone be known as an Oregon trial attorney versus an Oregon settlement attorney?
- How can an injured person be sure that they are hiring an attorney who is qualified to handle their Oregon personal injury case?
- I was injured at a rental property. Do I have any rights?
- Do Oregon landlord tenant laws give tenants any special rights?
- When should I contact a personal injury attorney regarding my landlord?
- I was in an auto accident on the job. Do I need an Oregon personal injury lawyer?
- What is a third party claim?
- Who pays my medical bills and wage loss in a third party Oregon workers compensation claim?
- If I am hurt by a government employee or entity, is my claim any different?
- How much time do I have to bring an Oregon personal injury claim against the government?
Medical Bills, Insurance Coverage, Wage Loss, Case Evaluation
Hiring Your Oregon Personal Injury Attorney
Rental Property Injury Accidents
Oregon Third Party Workers Compensation Claims
Filing a claim against an Oregon Government Entity or Oregon State Employee
Q1: How soon after personal injury accident should I call you?
A1: 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.
Q2: Will I get to talk to a lawyer if I call?
A2: 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.
Q3: Should I call you even if I want to handle my claim myself?
A3: 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.
Q4: What is my claim worth?
A4: 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.
A5: All Oregon non-commercial auto insurance policies have no-fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) healthcare and wage loss coverage.
What this means is that if you are injured in an auto, bicycle, or pedestrian accident, your auto insurance provides a minimum of one year and $15,000 in no-fault medical coverage. 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). In addition to medical coverage, your personal injury protection insurance provides wage loss coverage.
This coverage is mandatory for all Oregon auto insurance, but not motorcycle insurance.
Q6: What if I am on my bicycle or a pedestrian?
A6: Many auto policies will cover you if you are injured in a bicycle accident or while on foot. If you do not have auto insurance and do not have health insurance, than the other driver's insurance should pay your medical bills. If your Oregon personal injury protection coverage limits are reached, the other driver's personal injury protection may also cover you if you do not have healthcare insurance.
Q7: How do I know if I have a good auto accident or personal injury case?
A7: You need to contact me and we can discuss your case. My consultation on a personal injury case is always free.
Q8: How long does it take to settle most personal injury cases?
A8: 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.
Q9: Will pursuing my personal injury case take up a lot of my time?
A9: 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.
Q10: Will I have to go to trial?
A10: 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.
Q11: Do I need an Oregon personal injury lawyer?
A11: 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.
Q12: What if the person who hit me does not have any insurance?
A12: 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
Q13: Who pays my medical bills?
A13: 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.
Q14: What if my medical bills are more than my Personal Injury Protection coverage limit?
A14: 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.
Q15: The doctors are coming after me for unpaid bills, can you help?
A15: 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.
Q16: I am out of work as a result of my injuries. Can you help me?
A16: Yes. Your PIP insurance will pay up to 52 weeks of wage loss up to the maximum monthly amount of $3,000. 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.
Q17: What can I do if they refuse to pay my medical bills?
A17: If the accident was not your fault, the best course of action is to pursue the at fault driver's auto insurance company for your medical expenses as well as your pain and suffering. You can also sue your own insurance company. Due to recent changes in the law, they are forced to pay for your lawyer if you sue and win. This makes it very expensive for your auto insurance company, so they are much more likely to pay your bills if you sue them.
Q18: Do I have to pay my insurance company back for my personal injury protection benefits?
A18: Whether or not you have to pay your personal injury protection benefits back out of any settlement or award depends largely on what your attorney does early on in your case. Most of the time I can force the insurance companies to elect to pay me a fee to recover personal injury protection benefits or waive recovery out of my client's settlement or award. Insurance companies do not want to pay me a fee, so the vast majority of the time the insurance companies do not require any repayment by my clients.
Q19: If more than one person in my household has Oregon personal injury protection insurance can more than one policy apply?
A19: In certain circumstances Oregon personal injury protection benefits "stack" for household members. What this means is that you could have double the personal injury protection coverage.
Q20: How much personal injury protection insurance should I buy?
A20: That depends on whether or not you have healthcare insurance. If you have good healthcare insurance with low co-pays, than buying more than the minimum personal injury protection coverage is not as important. If you do not have healthcare insurance, than you should buy more than the minimum personal injury protection coverage.
Q21: I don't want to bankrupt somebody. What happens to the person I sue?
A21: 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.
Q22: Do all Oregon personal injury attorneys charge the same amount?
A22: No. Many attorneys increase their fees to 40% if they file a lawsuit, take a deposition, or go to mediation. Many attorneys also charge you for recovering your medical expenses. This can really add up. If you have a $100,000 settlement and $50,000 in medical bills and your lawyer charges you 40% for filing a lawsuit, this only leaves you with $10,000.
Q23: What do you charge to handle an Oregon personal injury case?
A23: If we settle the case before trial or arbitration, my fees are 33% of what is left after the past medical bills are paid. If you have a $100,000 settlement and $50,000 in medical bills, my fee is $16,666 and you end up with $33,333. My fees increase to 40%, after medical bills are paid, only if the case goes trial or arbitration.
Q24: Should I accept the offer that the insurance company has given me?
A24: Not without talking to a lawyer. Insurance companies rarely offer you a fair amount for your injuries without a lawyer. Two extreme examples are one case where my client was offered $4,000 before he hired me. At trial a jury awarded us $550,000. In another case the insurance company originally blamed my client and would not even fix his motorcycle. I filed a lawsuit and a month before trial they offered $2 million and said they would never pay a penny more. After picking a jury and presenting our witnesses, they nearly tripled their offer and the case settled. Insurance companies do not get to determine the value of your injury case, that is up to you or a jury. If you have already received an offer for your injuries, contact me and I will let you know if I think it is a fair offer. I will not charge you for this consultation. If I do not beat their original offer to you, I will not charge you anything.
Q25: Why is it important to hire a lawyer who files cases.
A25: I recently taught a class to members of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. Many of the personal injury lawyers in the class advertise themselves as being aggressive and fighting for their clients, which turned out not to be true. Before the class I looked each of them up in the court's computer system. Most of them had filed 0-2 cases in the last year- during that time period I had filed around 20 cases. It is a lot of work to file a lawsuit and the ensuing paperwork (work for me, not you), but I file a lawsuit in most of my cases, as that is what gets insurance companies to pay, and if they don't we can take your case to a jury. Before you hire a personal injury attorney, make sure they file and try cases. If they give you an excuse for why they don't do it, keep on looking, as you will rarely get a fair amount with a settlement attorney.
Q26: How do I pay your legal fees?
A26: I handle auto accident, bicycle, pedestrian accident, and all of my other personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means YOU DO NOT OWE ME A LEGAL FEE UNLESS I RECOVER MONEY FOR YOU. I do not ask for any attorney fees upfront. If there is no recovery there is no fee.
Q27: What do you charge for recovering my medical expenses?
A27: I do not charge my clients a fee recovering their past medical expenses. Most lawyers charge 33% for this. I base my fee on what is recovered in addition to your medical expenses. If your lawyer charges you for recovering your medical expenses it can significantly reduce how much goes in your pocket. For example, if you had $50,000 in medical expenses and a $100,000 settlement, your lawyer would get $33,000, $50,000 would go to repay your medical expenses, and you would be left with around $17,000. In a case like that, I would base my fee off of the $50,000, putting $33,000 in your pocket instead of approximately $17,000. The only time I charge a fee for recovering your past medical expenses is when someone other than the client, usually my client's insurance company or healthcare provider, pays me to recover the medical expenses.
Q28: Are there any hidden fees?
A28: No. I do not charge you fees for consultations, opening your file, copies, long distance, etc. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure you find out what they will be charging you, as these hidden fees can add up.
Q29: Lawsuits can be expensive, will it cost me any money up front for filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees, and any other costs?
A29: Filing a lawsuit, paying court costs and expert witness fees can be very expensive. Every year I spend thousands of dollars in litigation costs. I know that most people cannot afford these costs up front, so I forward these costs up front in every case I take. Spending a few thousand dollars on a good expert witness can make the difference between getting thousands of dollars and getting nothing for your personal injury claim. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure that they are willing to forward the money to adequately pursue your personal injury case. Otherwise, you may be forced into taking a minimal settlement if you cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars to pursue your personal injury claim.
Q30: Do you charge more for filing a lawsuit or going to court?
A30: No. Unlike most Oregon personal injury lawyers, my fees do not increase for filing a lawsuit, going to court, litigating motions, or going to mediation. The only time my fees increase is if we go to trial or arbitration, which usually happens in less than 10% of my cases. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure they don't increase their fees just for filing a lawsuit or spending a few hours in mediation.
Q31: What type of personal injury claims do you handle?
A31: I handle all types of personal injury claims, auto injury accidents, motorcycle injury accidents, bicycle accident, pedestrian, truck accident, dog bite injuries, ATV injury accidents, boating injury accidents, on the job injury third party workers compensation claims, rental property injury accident claim, and any other case where someone else causes you personal injury.
Q32: I hear a lot of lawyers do not stay in touch with their clients. Will I have access to you if I have questions after hours or weekends?
A32: Yes. I check my email 365 days a year and respond to clients 365 days a year. If you email me on a Saturday, you will likely hear back from me the same day or the next day. I don't have my staff screen my email. You communicate with me via the same email address as my family and close friends. Unless I am somewhere where I do not have internet access, I make a point of returning emails 7 days a week, all hours of the day. This process can be stressful and I don't want you losing sleep over a question I can easily answer.
Q33: Do insurance companies treat lawyers who try cases differently than "trial cowards" that don't try cases?
A33: Yes. They pay their clients less. Below is a quote from Reptile, a book by David Ball and Don Keenan. David Ball is the best trial consultant in the country and Don Keenan is the best trial lawyer in the country. This is why I try cases. Most Oregon personal injury attorneys don't. Who would you rather hire?
The insurance companies know every negotiation move you've ever made. They know if your comfort level is limited to settling in order to avoid trying cases — or if you will do the best for your client even if "best" means walking out of mediation and into trial. If your trial threshold is too high, change it. If you are or remain a trial coward, especially once you're armed with the methods in this book, you're in the wrong job and you ought to tell that to your prospective clients. Your client deserves a lawyer the insurance companies respect. And that respect is independent of any particular case. reptilekeenanball.com
Q34: Do you handle on the job injuries?
A34: I handle third-party on the job injuries. What this means is when your injuries are caused by someone other than your employer, such as another driver, faulty equipment, subcontractor, etc. I do not handle first-party workers compensation claims, where you are hurt on the job, but it is not a third-party's fault. If you have a first-party workers compensation claim, I can refer you to a lawyer who specializes in these claims, as they are an entirely different kind of law than personal injury claims.
Q35: What parts of Oregon do you handle cases in?
A35: Although I am located in Portland, Oregon, I will handle take cases throughout the state of Oregon.
Q36: Why is it important that someone be known as an Oregon trial attorney versus an Oregon settlement attorney?
A36: A lot of Portland personal injury lawyers refer to themselves as an Oregon trial attorney, but very few are. Unfortunately, the Oregon State Bar does not police lawyers to make sure that if you advertise yourself as an Oregon trial attorney, you really try cases. Portland is a small town and a small legal community. Insurance companies know who the Portland personal injury attorneys are who are also trial attorneys. Insurance companies tend to pay the clients of known Portland trial attorneys better than clients of attorneys who tend to not go to trial. Unfortunately, many seriously injured people are taken advantage of by attorneys who hold themselves out to be Oregon trial attorneys, but never try case or never get good verdicts. It is dishonest and should not be allowed. In order to be an Oregon personal injury attorney, you need to be an Oregon trial attorney.
Q37: How can an injured person be sure that they are hiring an attorney who is qualified to handle their Oregon personal injury case?
A37: You need to ask every attorney you talk to about how many cases they have tried and what their results have been. An attorney can buy their way into legal associations and law magazines, but the only way to get good trial verdicts is through skill and hard work. I have worked very hard to get good at trying cases. It did not come easy. I do everything I can to get better. Even though I have tried over 140 jury trials, I still go to every class I can that I think will make me better. I cannot guarantee what a jury will do, but I can guarantee you that I won't back down. If I take your personal injury case, the insurance company knows they have to pay a fair amount or be ready for a fight. If you have been inured please give me a call so we can discuss your options and rights.
Q38: I was injured at a rental property. Do I have any rights?
A38: Yes. Under Oregon Residential Landlord Tenant laws, you have a number of rights.
A landlord is required to keep a safe premises to protect tenants and guests from injury. If they fail to do so, they are liable for any and all personal injuries sustained as a result of their negligence.
Q39: Do Oregon landlord tenant laws give tenants any special rights?
A39: Yes. Landlords are held to a higher standard. It is a landlord's duty to make sure any resident they rent is safe and secure. Unlike in most Oregon personal injury cases, if you win, your landlord can be forced to pay your attorney fees. This works in your benefit, as it puts a lot of pressure on your landlord's insurance company to settle quickly, for a fair amount.
Q40: When should I contact a personal injury attorney regarding my landlord?
A40: Contact an Oregon personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Unlike typical personal injury claims where you usually have two years, you have much less time to bring a claim under the Oregon landlord tenant laws.
Q41: I was in an auto accident on the job. Do I need an Oregon personal injury lawyer?
A41: Probably. If you injuries are due to a third party, you can make a claim for your injuries directly against them, instead of making a claim against your employer.
Q42: What is a third party claim?
A42: In Oregon, a third party claim is a claim against someone other than your employer for your injuries. The most common third party claims are when you are injured in an auto accident while on the job. Other common third party claims are when you are injured by defective products or the fault of a independent contractor, other than your employer.
Q43: Who pays my medical bills and wage loss in a third party Oregon workers compensation claim?
A43: Your Oregon workers compensation pays your medical bills and wage loss. As part of any personal injury settlement, this money will have to be paid back. Whether you have to pay some or all of it is determined by what your attorney negotiates with the workers compensation insurance.
Q44: If I am hurt by a government employee or entity, is my claim any different?
A44: Yes. When you are injured due to the negligence of an Oregon government employee, there are a different set of rules regarding your personal injury claim. These rules are all set up to benefit the government and if you are not careful, you cannot bring a persona injury claim against the government.
Q45: How much time do I have to bring an Oregon personal injury claim against the government?
A45: When you bring a claim against an Oregon governmental body, you must send a tort claim notice within six months of the date of the accident. This notice must be sent to the correct agency and must notify them of the specifics of your claim. If you do not send this notice, you likely will not be able to make a personal injury claim.
If you are injured due to the negligence of an Oregon governmental agency, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If you don't timely preserve your right to make your personal injury claim, you will get nothing.
Please also see my more extended article on considerations when Choosing your personal injury lawyer, and interview questions to ask your potential personal injury attorney such as:
- Ask them what percentage of their practice is devoted to personal injury cases.
- Ask them how long they have been practicing personal injury law.
- Ask them how many cases they filed.
- Ask them the last time they tried a case to a jury.
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