When Interviewing & Hiring Your Oregon Personal Injury Attorney
Do all Oregon personal injury attorneys charge the same amount?
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.
What do you charge to handle an Oregon personal injury case?
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.
Should I accept the offer that the insurance company has given me?
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.
It is important to hire a lawyer who files cases.
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.
How do I pay your legal fees?
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.
What do you charge for recovering my medical expenses?
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.
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.
Lawsuits can be expensive, will it cost me any money up front for filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees, and any other costs?
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.
Do you charge more for filing a lawsuit or going to court?
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.
What type of personal injury claims do you handle?
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.
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?
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.
Do insurance companies treat lawyers who try cases differently than "trial cowards" that don't try cases?
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. http://www.reptilekeenanball.com
What types of cases do you handle?
I handle all types of Oregon personal injury, wrongful death and products liability cases, including: auto accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, ATV accidents, boating accidents, dog bites and all other types of injury cases.
Do you handle on the job injuries?
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.
What parts of Oregon do you handle cases in?
Although I am located in Portland, Oregon, I will handle take cases throughout the state of Oregon.
Why is it important that someone be known as an Oregon trial attorney versus an Oregon settlement attorney?
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.
How can an injured person be sure that they are hiring an attorney who is qualified to handle their Oregon personal injury case?
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.
Please also see my more extended article on Choosing your personal injury lawyer, and interview questions to ask your potential attorney when selecting your personal injury attorney.
OSB Lawyer Referral Service
Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service - find an attorney for your specific case through the OSB. Not all attorneys provide a free initial legal consultation. Make sure you ask how much the initial consultation will cost and how long that consultation will be.
Please see my FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) for more priority helpful information.
- Medical Bills, Insurance, Wage Loss, Case Evaluation
- Pedestrian, Bicycle, Car Injury Crash
- Important Questions When Interviewing & Hiring Your Oregon Personal Injury Attorney
- Rental Property Injury Liability
- Third Party Workers Compensation Claims
- Filing a claim against an Oregon Government Entity or Oregon State Employee