Personal Injury Accident and Lawsuit FAQs
March 3, 2014
After an accident that leaves you with a serious injury, you may have questions about your rights and whether you are entitled to compensation. Here we’ll go over some of the most frequently asked questions – and answers – regarding personal injuries.
Q: How do I know if I have a case?
A: The best way to find out if you have a personal injury claim and are entitled to compensation is to consult with an experienced legal professional. The fact is that a lot of factors can play into whether an individual has a legal claim, and determining when negligence has caused an accident (and, if so, who is to blame for the negligence) can be complicated.
The good news is that experienced legal professionals offer free initial consults to people who may have suffered personal injuries, so you have nothing to lose by meeting with an attorney to learn more about your rights and potential case.
Q: What is negligence?
A: Negligence, a term that is inherently involved in discussions of personal injuries, refers to the failure of one party to act with a necessary level of care or responsibility to prevent others from being injured. Generally, the level of care that should be applied to a given situation is determined to be that which any “reasonable” person would exercise under similar circumstances.
Although the negligence in some cases of personal injuries can be obvious and clear (as in cases when, for instance, drunk drivers hit other motorists – with the negligence lying in the hands of the intoxicated driver), many cases of personal injuries are far less clear-cut. This means that it often takes the help of an experienced legal professional to evaluate when negligence has contributed to an accident and personal injury.
Q: How much is my case worth?
A: In short, it will depend. The value of a personal injury claim will vary according to a number of different factors, only some of which include:
- The type and severity of the injuries sustained
- Whether one or more people were injured in the event
- Whether the injuries have resulted in permanent impairments, an inability to earn a living (for any period of time) and/or a diminished quality of life (in either the short or long term)
- Whether the incident has resulted in property damage (and, if so, the extent of this damage)
- Whether it is possible to ask for punitive damages in the personal injury lawsuit.
Q: Insurers have been calling me. Should I just accept a settlement from them?
A: NO. In many cases, insurance companies will try to offer you a settlement for less than your claim is worth because they operate under the assumptions that accident victims need money and just want to resolve their cases as soon as possible – even it means taking less than what they deserve for their case. Because many people aren’t aware of this (and because many people wrongfully assume that insurers are looking out for them), they may just accept the first settlement offered to them by insurance companies.
If you find yourself getting settlement offers from insurers, it’s critical that you do NOT sign anything, cash any checks or accept these offers before speaking to a personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to far more compensation than you are being offered, and an experienced lawyer can help you get the full amount of compensation that you deserve.
Q: What will my compensation cover?
A: While the amount of compensation to which a person is entitled will vary from case to case, in general, personal injury settlements can include awards to cover the injured person’s:
- Hospital bills
- Ongoing medical expenses (including longer-term care costs)
- Lost wages (which may include compensation for future inability to work)
- Property damage
- Permanent impairments
- Mental suffering.
Q: How long do I have to file my case?
A: The legal deadline for filing a personal injury claim is known as the statute of limitations, and such statutes vary from state to state. In Oregon, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is two years. Effectively, this means that accident victims will have two years from the date of the accident – or the date on which they became aware of their injuries – to file their claim.
Once this timeframe passes, victims will no longer be entitled to seek compensation from the party (or parties) legally responsible for causing their injuries.
Q: How long will it take to resolve my case?
A: It depends. While this may be a frustrating answer, the fact is that different types of personal injury cases will take different amounts of time to resolve. Some of the factors that can affect how long it takes to resolve these cases include (but are not limited to):
- Whether a case can be settled prior to trial (More than 90 percent of all personal injury claims are settled prior to trial, according to industry experts).
- How complicated the nature of a person’s injuries are (as the investigations and evidence of more complicated can take longer to conduct/gather/present in court)
- Who the defendant in the case is (with more monied defendants – like big corporations – tending to prolong claims, as they have the resources draw cases out and may choose to do this in an effort to try to undercut victims’ compensation).
Q: What should services I expect from a lawyer?
A: While you should expect an experienced personal injury attorney to be effective at building you a strong case and presenting your case in any legal setting, you should also expect that your lawyer:
- Is available to answer questions about your case
- Provides you with upfront advice regarding your options
- Files all necessary legal paperwork in a timely fashion
- Will be your advocate at every stage of your case.
If an attorney is falling short of providing you with the services you need, contact our Portland personal injury lawyers. We have been known for providing each of our clients with superior legal services since 1977.
Q: How soon after an accident should I meet with a lawyer?
A: As soon as you are physically able to, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney and get your case started. While getting your case started sooner (rather than later) is essential in order to ensure that the statute of limitations for your case doesn’t run out, it’s also crucial because, the longer you wait to file your claim, the more likely it is that:
- You will forget certain details regarding the accident.
- Witnesses to the accident will move and/or change their phone numbers (and will also forget some details of the accident).
- Other evidence, like photographs, will get lost or damaged.
- Medical bills and documentation regarding other expenses will get lost.
Any of these factors can make it more difficult to prove a claim and can, in turn, significantly impact the compensation you receive in a case.
Contact the Portland Personal Injury Lawyers at the Savage Law Firm Today
Helping you recover from the financial setbacks caused by personal injuries is one of our primary goals. If you or a loved one has been injured and wants to find out more about whether you have a case, the Portland personal injury attorneys at the Savage Law Firm want to meet with you. We are ready to discuss your rights and possible case during a free, no obligations initial consult. We represent clients in Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.
To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page.