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What if I feel my attorney is not gutsy enough to go for what think I deserve?

Salem, OR |

Struck by a semi over a mt pass at 9:30pm when he lost control and hit us in our lane head-on. My car was demolished on all 4 sides, shattering the windows. The semi driver, I thought had pulled over, but when someone stopped to help us, they said he had driven away. They eventually found him three hours later. We waited on that mountain pinned in our car, bleeding, I thought I was dying as I hit my chest so hard I could not breath. I was able to scribble a goodbye note to my 4 kids. The ambulance came 1 1/2 hrs later. We were wet and freezing from the snow storm. I alone have over $38,000 in medical bills and am fearful to drive and have nightmares often waking, gasping for air. My lawyer does not seem to want to play hard ball and wants to settle quickly. Not sure what I should do.

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Attorney answers 8


You can always have another attorney review your case. I believe most personal injury attorneys would do so free of charge. However, it may not be possible to give an accurate assessment of a case by a quick review of the records. I would encourage you to meet with your attorney and discuss your concerns - find out why your attorney recommends settling quickly rather than waiting or pushing the issue in a different way.

Call me at (503) 990-6641 to discuss further.


There is a lot that goes into a decision to settle and an amount. You need to speak with your attorney about his thought process.

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I can't give you advise on this and no one else on this site, because this is not the sort of thing that attorneys should advise you on without a great deal of more info. That said, I will tell you that choosing an attorney is largely about trust, trust based on your knowledge of their reputation, knowledge and expertise, but also trust based on your interaction with them. You have to follow your heart and your gut when it comes to attorneys. We attorneys are here to serve you, not the other way around. If you feel you are not being served well, then it's time to move on.


Have a face to face with your attorney to discuss his or her thought process and rationale. If you are unhappy with your attorney, change attorneys. Good luck.

The above is general information only and is not legal advice. The information provided does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney until we sign a retainer agreement.


You always have the option of disengaging from your attorney, but in many cases you will want to consult with another attorney in your state first to make sure your expectations are reasonable. Depending on how long until your statute of limitations runs, this serious injury accident definitely sounds like a case that many personal injury attorneys may be interested in representing you for. I would consider taking advantage of the FREE consultations that PI attorneys offer.

I would also recommend hiring an attorney who has experience with truck accidents, as commercial trucks have different insurance policies (usually with higher policy limits) than regular motor vehicles.

Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman


True commercial trucks do generally have higher policy limits but the mechanisms for running the case are pretty much the same once you figure out what the policy limits are. I don't see where "having experience with truck accidents" would make a big difference in this case - it's pretty straight forward that the other driver is at fault and you ask what the policy limits are. There might be some value in checking on the driver's log and see if he violated the required rest requirements for commercial drivers. This can be a factor in causing accidents. Belonging to a great organization like the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, which I think we both belong to Mr. Dubois, gives us access to attorneys all over the state for ideas and strategies for pretty much any issue we run into in handling our cases. If anything I would screen for an attorney that is in OTLA as one criteria for hiring a PI attorney. Also OTLA attorneys support legislative changes that help consumers like this accident victim.


Never settle for an attorney who only knows how to settle.


Your facts are gripping. This is the type of facts that would make a jury cringe imagining what you went through. But the flip side is there has to be money to pay for your damages and insurance policies have limits. It may be that the semi-truck driver's insurance has issues or they are offering policy limits. Your own insurance should have UM/UIM but that only helps if you have coverage above the maximum that the other driver's insurance is willing to pay and most people don't buy high UM/UIM coverage because they don't understand this. Also policies have limits as to how much total they will pay per person per accident. If there were other people involved in the accident they may also be racing to tap the same insurance pot and getting there first might be wise. Read more about how this works here on my blog:

On the flip side attorneys sometimes aren't aggressive enough. They don't have trial experience and they don't see the case through. They may not want to put up the money that it takes to pay an expert witness to come to trial - but you should also realize that these costs normally come out of the client's part of the settlement which leaves less money for you in the end. Hiring doctors to testify in court can be very expensive. I don't mean to suggest that this is necessary in your case, but it is in most cases.

You are free to consult with another attorney about this case and get a second opinion. I don't know that you should expect to consult for free. Attorneys talk to personal injury clients for free because they expect to get paid by taking the case and getting a fee later. Here you already have an attorney and even if an attorney takes over your case they will have to pay your prior attorney for the work done so far. So your case is not as lucrative as if you were coming in at the beginning. I would at least offer to pay an attorney for an hour to review your case and give you their opinion.

Another possible issues is your medical bills. Understand that you may have to offset your recovery by reimbursing the bills paid from your own PIP coverage - which is up to $15,000.00. There may be a change in this law coming, too soon to tell and unknown if it will be retroactive to your case but worth checking into. Also the current law allows you not to reimburse PIP if your economic damages exceed your settlement or judgment. Then if you used your own private insurance, they also expect to get reimbursed. It is important to know what the policy limits are of the driver's insurance to see if you are up against a problem. Commercial policies tend to have higher limits then personal auto policies but again, one needs to know how much the policy limits are as part of the analysis.

I am sure this is confusing but just understand when you have a limited pot of insurance money and everyone has their hand's out it can be very tricky to figure out who gets what and your share may end up being pretty small. Now that I have told you about some of the possible problems your attorney may be facing, you might want to request a meeting and have your attorney give you a very detailed explanation of why they are recommending a settlement and the pro's and con's of proceeding in litigation. Then talk to another attorney and get a second opinion before you make your final decision.

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You should ask your current attorney for a detailed explanation about why he or she wants to settle quickly and does not want to aggressively pursue your case. There may be facts influencing that strategy. Either way, you are entitled to know. However, if you do disengage and hire another attorney to pursue your claim, you will likely have to deal with your former attorney's lien. Since personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, he or she will be entitled to be compensated for their work when your case is ultimately resolved. That fact may prevent a new attorney from taking the case because he/she will have to share or split the fee with your former attorney. That does not mean the fee issue cannot be resolved or dealt with, but you must take it into consideration before making a change.

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