Personal injury attorneys almost always give a free initial consultation.
The insurance industry's own statistics indicate that once an attorney becomes involved in a case, the value of an injury claim doubles.
Based on the above two facts, you can not afford not to retain experienced personal injury counsel in your jurisdiction before considering the next step in your case.
An experienced personal personal injury attorney will optimize the insurance company's low-ball offer. Some claims adjuster wants a bonus for settling your case below full value. Do not allow that to happen.
This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.
Here are some "claim truths" you should know: 1. Insurers are motivated by money and fear ; 2. Claims usually do not get cheaper with time; and, 3. Well documented claims yield more money.
#1 means that before insurers will offer a reasonable amount, it must see a probability that it may someday answer to a decision maker who may award a large sum. Without that fear, insurers will simply not be motivated pay more than a minimum amount. Without a qualified attorney on your side, there is really no real chance of an eventual high award. So, hire an qualified attorney.
#2 is why insurers often attempt to quickly settle claims after an accident...before all damages are apparent. Don't ever entertain early offers to settle, especially when you don't know the complete extent and nature of your injuries and claim.
#3 may be better known as "document, document, document". Get organized. Keep track of all your receipts. Keep a diary related to the accident. Most of all, be sure to clearly and consistently describe all your symptoms to your doctors and therapist.
In this business, what you get stems from what you can prove. And, it is nearly impossible to prove what is not documented. If you have an Oregon auto claim involving a collision which was not your fault, I would be happy to provide you with a free consultation. You may contact me at:
Richard Rizk, Attorney at Law
18330 SW Alexander St.
Beaverton, OR 97006
I wish there were an easy answer to this question.
Normally, I wouldn't put a value on a case until I heard all the facts. But I'm going to go out on a limb on this one and say that $5,000 is an absurdly low offer, based on what you've described. Insurance companies typically have two different sets of adjusters. One set settles claims with people who don't have lawyers, and then a whole different set settles claims with people who do have lawyers. It sounds to me like you're working with an adjuster who is either inexperienced, or extremely aggressive.
There are two ways to get more money: negotiate, or threaten to sue. Negotiation only works when the other side negotiates in good faith and fairly. If they're going to start at $5,000, I'm not sure they're negotiating fairly. That would be like you starting at $1,000,000.
If they won't negotiate fairly, the only other option you have is to threaten to sue. Which means you'll need a lawyer.
So you're faced with a decision: talk to a lawyer, or try to settle it yourself. If you want to try to settle it yourself, I'd recommend getting a copy of our book: "Seven Common Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Oregon Accident Case." You can find it on Amazon, or you can get more info on our website at www.pdxinjurylaw.com.
In fact, with your injuries and their ridiculous offer, I'd be happy to send you a free copy. Just give us a call at 503-222-4411 and ask for Josh or Megan. We'll be happy to send you the book.
If on the other hand you're ready to talk with a lawyer, we'd be happy to meet with you. First consultation is free, and there's no obligation at all, no pressure. We would just discuss your case in detail and answer any questions you have. 503-222-4411.
What you describe is not uncommon.
The only way to get fair value is to hire someone who does this work all the time (like me).
Demand full value for everything: lost wages, the FULL amount of medical bills, not just reimbursement to the insurance company (that's complicated legal issue); money for future medical care, and ALL of your economic losses.
On top of the economic losses, you are entitled to money for noneconomic losses: the pain, the disfigurement, the interference in your life, the humiliation and embarrassment. The insurance company will never pay you the full value.
I know, people are afraid that when the lawyer takes his cut, you'd be better off settling on your own. Don't believe it. Call me, and we can talk about it.
TIME LIMITS. When did the accident happen? You have only two years to make your claim, assuming it happened in Oregon. If the driver was a public employee on the job, then you have to file notice within 180 days.
So, don't wait.
Jeff Merrick, Oregon Trial Attorney
The above is not legal advice. I cannot give you reliable advice without knowing more information. It is intended to raise some issues for you to discuss with your own lawyer.
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