Car accidents are the most common personal injury and wrongful death cases in Oregon. A vehicle accident can result in injuries that heal within months or serious permanent personal injuries. While each automobile accident case is unique, they each share several common issues.
Negligence in Causing a Car Accident
The first issue in every Oregon motor vehicle accident case is liability. You have a potential personal injury claim if someone else was negligent in causing the car accident. You may have a case as long as you were not greater than 50% liable in causing the collision. That’s called comparative fault in Oregon.
Liability is often established when the other driver violated Oregon’s rules of the road, such as by failing to obey a traffic control device (running a red light), following too closely (rear-ender), or failing to yield the right of way.
Liability may also be established in Oregon car accident cases through the more common sense ways, such as by proving that the other driver failed to keep a proper lookout or keep reasonable control of his vehicle.
Proving Liability and Case Preparation
When some firms take you as a personal injury client, your case is thrown in the hopper until you are done treating and ready to settle. This is one of the biggest disadvantages to a contingent fee: some lawyers are encouraged to spend as little time as possible on your claim.
However, Eugene personal injury lawyer Michael Arnold prepares your case at day one as if it were going to trial. By prepping every car accident case as it were going to trial allows us to be in a strong position to settle your claim for as much as possible.
Auto accident case preparation is especially important when liability might be disputed by the other insurance company. You know that the insurance companies are interviewing witnesses, so your personal injury lawyer should at least know as much if not more than the other side. Since memories do not get better over time, especially regarding the subtle details that can make or break a personal injury case, it’s imperative to collect as much evidence as soon as possible.
Additionally, physical evidence disappears over time as well. This evidence can be necessary in proving how your Oregon car accident occurred. Cars are repaired, sold, or scrapped. If we need to hire an accident reconstructionist it often needs to be done sooner rather than later.
Proving the Car Accident Caused Your Personal Injuries
The second issue in every Oregon personal injury or wrongful death case is whether we can prove that the car accident was a substantial factor in causing your injuries. This is often very commonsensical, in that you were fine before the accident and then you had injuries immediately afterwards. However, sometimes there are other factors that make it more difficult, such as pre-existing injuries, degenerative changes to the spine or joint, or gaps or delays in treatment. This is when it becomes imperative for your personal injury attorney to actively work on your case by either speaking to your treating physician or hiring an orthopedist to examine you and review your case. We have relationships with those experts.
Damages in Oregon Personal Injury Claims
The next issue is to determine the extent and amount of your damages. Oftentimes, a client asks us at the initial consult what their claim is worth or tell us that another lawyer said that their claim was worth lots of money. We do not tell clients values at the initial consult just to win you as a client. To do so before reviewing you medical records would be disingenuous at best.
You are entitled to both economic and noneconomic damages for your car accident claim. Economic damages are those damages that you can easily put a dollar value on, such as medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and other out-of-pocket losses or future losses.
Noneconomic damages are the more subjective losses that you commonly hear referred to as pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of life. The benchmark for valuing any noneconomic claim is what a reasonable Lane County jury of twelve would award. Therefore, you need to hire an Oregon personal injury lawyer who not only has experience in settling cases but also in trying case to Oregon juries. Otherwise, how do they know what a case is worth and whether it should go to trial or settle?
When interviewing potential personal injury lawyers, ask your lawyer how many cases they have tried in the past ten years. The attitudes of potential jurors changes over the years. Just as trial skills become diminished over time, the knowledge of what juries do in cases like your becomes stale over time as well. The world changes so quickly and today’s adult jurors were yesterday’s children.
Settlement vs. Trial
The only real way to figure out what your case is worth is to take it to a jury trial. However, trial doesn’t happen in most Oregon personal injury cases. The goal in every case is to settle your personal injury claim for as much as possible. We attempt to do that by tendering a settlement demand package to the insurance adjuster, putting our best foot forward regarding your case and demanding a certain amount of money. The decision to settle always remains with the client. We will advise you on what we think your claim is worth but you decide whether or not to accept an offer. If you do not accept the insurance company’s offer, we can file a personal injury lawsuit and start the litigation process.
Choosing an Oregon Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured by the actions or inactions of another, you need competent and experienced representation from an experienced Oregon trial attorney. Remember that the insurance companies, yours included, are not your friends. They are businesses interested in the bottom line and are accountable to their shareholders. Once you have a personal injury claim open, you become a liability to them. They are interested in ending your claim as soon as possible with as little payout as possible. That is why you need quality legal representation.
A personal injury attorneys can deal with the insurance companies on your behalf and leave you to the important jobs of getting better and living your life. If you and your attorney have a contingent fee agreement, then retaining a personal injury attorney early on to deal with the insurance companies costs you the same as waiting.
Mike Arnold is an Oregon trial lawyer who actually tries cases to juries. He has great expertise in a number of different areas of law relating to personal injuries and litigation.
If you or someone you know in Eugene or throughout Southern Oregon needs the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact attorney Mike Arnold today at 541-797-0110