Q1: Do all Oregon bicycle accident attorneys charge the same amount?
A. 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.
Q2: What do you charge to handle an Oregon bicycle accident case?
A. 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.
Q3: Should I accept the offer that the car insurance company has given me?
A: 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.
Q4: Why is it so important to hire an Oregon attorney who who files cases, and goes to trial?
A: 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.
Q5: Lawsuits can be expensive, will it cost me any money up front for filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees, and any other costs?
A: Filing a lawsuit, paying court costs and expert witness fees can be very expensive. Every year I spend thousand of dollars in litigation costs. I know that most people cannot afford these costs up front, so Iforward 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.
Q6: 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?
A: 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.
Q7: Will I have to pay the any up front expenses?
A: No. I advance all costs associated with your case. I never ask you for a penny until we recover from the at fault party.
Q8: What do you charge for recovering my medical expenses?
A: 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.
Q9: Are there any hidden fees?
A: 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.
Q10: Do you charge more for filing a lawsuit or going to court?
A: No. Unlike most 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.
Q11: How soon after my bicycle accident should I call you?
A: 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 client was offered $1,500 and a jury awarded us $138,000. 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 an attorney fee.
Q12: How do I pay your legal fees?
A: I handle bike accidents and all 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.
Q13: Do insurance companies treat lawyers who try cases differently than "trial cowards" that don't try cases?
A. 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 lawyers 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.
Q14: Will I get to talk to a lawyer if I call?
A: Yes. Everyone who calls for a free consultation gets to talk to a lawyer. I do not have my staff screen cases. Usually you will get to talk to a lawyer right away or later the same day.
Q15: Should I call you even if I want to handle my claim myself?
A: Yes. In a few minutes over the phone I can usually give you an estimate of what your claim is worth so you don't get ripped off by the insurance company. If they give you an offer and you later hire me, I will not charge you a fee unless I can increase the amount that goes into your pocket.
Q16: Can I recover even if the motorist never hit me?
A: Yes. Many people are under the misconception that there has to be physical contact between a cyclist and a motor vehicle for the motorist to be liable. This is not true. There are many situations where cyclists are injured when they take evasive action to avoid being hit, and crash as a result. The motorist can still be held liable if their negligence required the cyclist to take the evasive action.
Q17: Can I recover if the other driver had no insurance?
A: Yes. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can recover money for your medical bills and pain and suffering even if the other driver had no insurance.
Q18: Does my auto insurance personal injury protection (PIP) cover accidents when I am on my bike?
A: Many auto policies will cover you if you are injured in a bicycle accident or while on foot.
Q19: How do I know if I have a good bicycle accident claim?
A: You need to contact me and we can discuss your case. My consultation on a personal injury case is always free.
Q20: How long does it take to settle most bicycle accident and personal injury cases?
A: It depends on the nature of your personal injury claim. I have settled many policy limits cases within 90 days of taking the cases. The bigger your case is, the longer it usually takes to get it settled or take it to trial. I don't sit on cases when they come through the door, my staff and I literally start working on them the day we get your intake paperwork. I work hard to get your case resolved as quickly as possible, but it can take some time to get a fair amount. The majority of the cases I handle either settle or go to trial within one year you hiring me. Once your personal injury case is settled, I can usually put a check in your hand within 14 days.
Q21: Will pursuing my case take up a lot of my time?
A: No. Oftentimes I only meet with clients for the initial interview and then we can just talk over the phone. If we do have to go to court, it will take more time. I realize your time is important, so I don't waste it.
Q22: Will I have to go to trial?
A: The vast majority of bicycle collision and personal injury cases don't go to trial. However, I treat each case as if it is going to be a trial, as you have to be willing to go to trial to maximize your settlement.
Q23: Do I need a Oregon bicycle lawyer?
A: In order to settle your bike accident case you will have to deal with insurance companies. Their goal is to pay you as little as you will take. It is tough for someone who is not familiar with bicycle accident cases to know what a fair settlement amount is. An experienced Oregon bicycle accident attorney can help you to determine that amount and reach a fair settlement.
Q 24: I don't want to bankrupt somebody. What happens to the person I sue?
A: Although the lawsuit will have the other driver's name on it, we are actually going after the insurance company's money. In virtually every case, the person we sue does not have to pay a penny, as their insurance company pays the settlement or verdict amount, as well as all of the legal fees. In the three cases where I have received verdicts bigger than the policy limits, the insurance companies still paid, as it was their fault for not settling for the policy limits.
Q 25: What types of Oregon accident cases do you handle?
A: I handle all types of Oregon personal injury, wrongful death and products liability cases, including: crashes and collisions involving bikes, scooters, wheelchairs, and mopeds.
Q 26: What parts of Oregon do you handle cases in?
A: Although I am located in Portland, Oregon, I will handle take cases throughout the state of Oregon.