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We Handle Serious Personal Injury Claims in Portland and Throughout Oregon
About Johnston Law Firm
Accidents can happen anywhere, and the resulting injuries can be serious and even debilitating. You may find yourself dealing with the financial impact of heavy medical and hospital expenses, while the time it takes to recover could result in lost wages and prevent you from engaging in hobbies and activities with friends and loved ones. In many cases, these so-called accidents are often the result of someone’s careless or negligent conduct.
Personal injury law deals with various types of accidental and unintentional injuries, car accidents is a common example, and can be used to hold responsible parties accountable in order to obtain the compensation injured victims need. If you or someone you care about has suffered from these types of injuries, our Portland personal injury lawyers can help you recover.
Personal Injury Cases
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidental injuries result in more than 30 million hospital emergency room visits each year, and are the fourth leading cause of death in this country. While the injuries sustained in these accidents may have been largely unintentional, the fact is that there is generally someone or something who is ultimately responsible. In personal injury law, negligence is a legal theory under which a responsible party may be held liable for the injuries and other damages an injured victim suffers. Negligence is defined as doing something or failing to do something a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances. Negligent actions or inaction form the basis for many types of personal injury cases, including the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents, in which a driver, passenger, or pedestrian is injured as the result of another driver’s reckless behavior;
- Slip and fall accidents, such as injuries sustained as the result of wet floors or uneven sidewalks;
- Premises liability cases, in which a person is injured due to dangerous conditions on another’s property;
- Product liability cases, in which injuries occur as the result of defective or dangerous products;
- Medical malpractice, in which a medical error or mistake results in injuries or damages;
- Wrongful death, in cases where unintentional injuries result in death.
Don’t Make The Mistake Of Choosing The Wrong Lawyer
Time Limit on Personal Injury Claims
You may have the right to claim full damages for your losses but if you wait too long to file, you will lose that right. The statute of limitations in Oregon personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident. If you do not file your claim within this time, the insurance company and the court will throw out your case and you will not receive any compensation in the future.
There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations, but they are limited. Some, such as the discovery rule, may extend the time limit. Others, though, such as claims filed against a government entity, may shorten it. A Portland injury lawyer can review the facts of your case and file your claim on time. It is critical, however, that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible after any accident.
Elements of Proof in Personal Injury Cases
Simply claiming that you were injured in an accident and that someone else was to blame is not enough when filing a personal injury claim. You must also prove the facts of your case. In negligence cases, there are four specific elements of your case you must establish. These are as follows:
- Duty of care: Everyone owes other people a duty of care, which means acting in a safe and reasonable manner to ensure that no one becomes hurt. The duty a liable party had to another person depends on the specific facts of a case. For example, drivers have a general duty of care to operate their vehicle in a safe manner so they do not cause an accident that results in serious injuries. However, doctors, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals have a much higher duty of care to their patients.
- Breach: When someone acts negligently, or carelessly, they breach their duty of care. Proving the negligent act that caused the accident is often one of the most challenging aspects of any personal injury claim. Speaking to a lawyer who can prove the negligent act is often necessary for accident victims to obtain the full and fair settlement they deserve.
- Causation: When proving causation, you must show that the negligent act caused your accident. For example, while running a stop sign is against the law that can result in criminal penalties, a civil lawsuit is not practical if no one was hurt. On the other hand, if you can show that another driver ran a stop sign, crashing into you and causing serious injuries, you have a much better chance of a successful outcome.
- Damages: The purpose of any personal injury claim is to restore you as wholly as possible to the person you were before the accident. For this reason, you must fully prove your damages, or your losses. This is the only way to obtain fair compensation for those losses. If you did not suffer any physical, mental, or financial injuries during an accident, you likely do not have a claim.
Although the four elements of proof in a personal injury claim seem straightforward, they are very difficult to prove. Portland personal injury attorneys will have the experience and legal knowledge to prove each element so you obtain the full and fair damages you are entitled to whether you have been in motor vehicle accidents or have suffered any other serious personal injury. Call our personal injury lawyers today for that free initial consultation!
Damages Available in Personal Injury Claims
If you can successfully prove that you were injured due to another person’s negligence, there are many different types of damages you can claim. The most common types of damages available in personal injury cases are as follows:
- Past medical expenses, such as those for hospitalizations, surgeries, and emergency room visits
- Pain and suffering
- Wages, bonuses, and benefits lost if you could not return to work
- Future medical bills, including those for pain management and ongoing physical therapy
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of support and companionship
- Diminished earning capacity if you cannot return to the same line of work and earn a similar wage in the future
- Any other out-of-pocket expense or physical, mental, or financial loss you sustained
In rare cases, the courts may also award punitive damages in a personal injury claim. This compensation is not meant to make you whole or compensate you for your losses. Instead, they are meant to punish the at-fault party and deter them from acting with such negligence in the future. Punitive damages are not always awarded. In order to obtain punitive damages, you must show the liable party acted with gross negligence or a wanton disregard for other people’s safety.
Why Work with a Portland Injury Lawyer?
Many people who are injured due to another person’s negligence do not think they need the help of a Portland injury lawyer. For example, after a minor car accident, an injured individual may not think they need legal advice. However, anyone who is hurt due to another person’s carelessness should always schedule a free consultation with an attorney who can provide legal advice. There are many benefits that come with having legal representation and they include:
- Protect your rights: Without the help of a personal injury lawyer, you may inadvertently do or say something that impacts your rights. An attorney can communicate with anyone involved in your case on your behalf and advise on the important steps to take after any accident.
- Overcome complex issues: There are many complex issues that can arise in a personal injury claim. Determining who is at fault is not always easy, and the other side may make unfair and untrue claims that you held some responsibility for the accident. A lawyer will know how to overcome these complex issues, and any others that may arise in your case.
- An understanding of the law: Many people are unaware of the personal injury laws that govern accident cases. For example, many people do not know that there is a time limit on these claims while others do not fully understand the premises liability laws that govern slip and falls, assault due to negligent security, and other accidents that occur on other people’s property. An injury lawyer will know about all of the most important laws and advise on how they apply to your case.
- Network of investigators and experts: The more complex the facts of an accident are, the more the incident will need to be investigated. Expert testimony may also be necessary. Most accident victims do not have a network of investigators and experts, but a lawyer will have already developed relationships with professionals they can reach out to.
- Trial representation, if necessary: Although the vast majority of personal injury cases settle outside of court, that is not always the case. In rare instances, going to trial is the only way to obtain the maximum damages necessary. A Portland personal injury lawyer will have the knowledge and skill to represent you and give you the best chance of a favorable outcome.
Legal fees are a concern that keep many people from working with an injury attorney. Fortunately, most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, so they do not get paid unless you win your case.
What to Do After Any Accident
Accidents happen in a second and victims do not expect them to occur. In the moments afterward, it is natural to feel frustrated, angry, and confused about what to do next. The steps you take now though, are of critical importance to your personal injury claim and can either help or hurt it. Depending on the type of accident you were in, the steps to take include:
- Call the police if your injuries were caused by a traffic accident.
- Fill out an incident report if you were hurt on the property of a business and ask for a copy at the time you fill it out.
- Exchange your name, contact, and insurance information with anyone else involved.
- Take photographs of the surrounding area, damage to any property, your injuries, and any other relevant information.
- Locate eyewitnesses and exchange your name and contact with them.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident and tell any physician who treats you how you sustained your injuries.
- Contact a Portland personal injury lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and help you obtain the full compensation you deserve.
How Much is Your
Personal Injury Case Worth?
The value of a personal injury case depends on many different factors. No two cases are exactly alike and many variables will affect the value of a claim. These include:
- The nature and severity of your injuries, as well as the permanency of them
- The medical treatment required to ensure the injuries do not become worse
- The wages, bonuses, and benefits you lost at work due to your injuries
- Whether you can return to the same type of work again in the future, and if you can earn similar wages in the future
- The amount of insurance that is available
An injury lawyer can only value your claim after they have fully reviewed your medical documentation, employment records, and the specific facts of your case. Lastly, the value of a case can change as new information is uncovered.
How Long Does a
Personal Injury Case Take?
Like the value of any personal injury case is very fact-dependent, so too is the length of time any personal injury case will take. The majority of injury victims cases take between 6 and 18 months once an attorney is hired. In other instances, a case may take many years before it is finalized. How long your personal injury case will take from start to finish depends on the medical treatment that is needed, the length of time it takes to collect the necessary records, and how successfully negotiations with the insurer proceed.
How to Pay Your
Medical Bills After an Accident
It can take some time to receive a fair settlement after an accident. In the meantime, medical bills will pile up and you may worry about how you will pay for them. If you were involved in a car, pedestrian, or bicycle accident and you carry your own auto insurance, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurer. While auto insurance is governed by tort law in Oregon, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is also a requirement in the state. PIP coverage can provide you with compensation for your medical expenses and a portion of lost wages up to the policy limits.
If you were involved in another type of accident that is not covered by auto insurance, private health insurance can help cover the cost of your medical expenses. Any medical expenses not covered by PIP or private health insurance is your responsibility. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise fully on how to pay your medical bills before receiving a settlement.
Don’t miss out on these common personal injury mistakes.
How an Injury
Lawyer Can Help with Your Case
People are reluctant to reach out to an injury lawyer after an accident for many reasons. They may think they cannot afford an attorney, or they may not even know if they have a valid case. If you have been hurt, working with an injury lawyer will help you obtain more damages than you may if you take on your case alone. It is never easy to negotiate with insurance companies, or collect the evidence necessary to prove your case. These tasks, and the others that go into building a strong injury case, are almost impossible to perform while you are trying to recover from serious injuries. A lawyer can help with your case in many ways, including:
- Conducting the investigation: Determining how your accident occurred, and who is liable, requires a full investigation. An injury lawyer will visit the scene of your accident to become more familiar with important details, find local businesses who may have video footage, and reach out to professionals such as accident reconstruction experts who can advise on how your accident occurred.
- Collect important evidence: Evidence is critical when proving your case. Physical evidence from the scene, cell phone records, photos, video footage, and eyewitness statements are some of the strongest pieces of evidence. An attorney will have the resources to subpoena certain types of evidence, locate witnesses, and the know-how to collect other pieces of evidence.
- Negotiate with the insurer: Insurance companies prioritize their own profits over the health and safety of accident victims. They are very reluctant to offer fair settlements that will fully cover the cost of injury and other losses. It takes a skilled negotiator to enter into negotiations and obtain the full and fair settlement you deserve. An injury lawyer will have the experience and expertise to help you obtain yours.
- Trial representation, when necessary: Very few personal injury cases actually make it to the trial stage. Still, sometimes this step is the only way to make sure you obtain the full damages you are entitled to. If you get to the trial stage and are not working with an attorney, you should definitely contact one before you attend any court hearing. Trials are very overwhelming, particularly for those who have never been through the process before. A lawyer will make sure you are prepared and provide the strong representation you need.
The above are just a few of the ways in which our Portland personal injury lawyer can help with your case. Essentially, an attorney will handle every aspect of your claim so you can focus on getting better.
Accepting a Settlement
vs. Going to Trial
When a lawyer submits a claim to the insurance company, they will work diligently to negotiate a fair offer that will fully cover the cost of your injuries and other losses. Negotiations sometimes take time, but offers and counter-offers are necessary to ensure you receive the full and fair settlement you are entitled to. The vast majority of personal injury cases, over 90 percent, are resolved during the negotiation phase.
There are times, however, when insurance companies and other liable parties refuse to offer a fair settlement. In these cases, it is often necessary to go to trial to obtain the maximum damages you deserve. If your case goes to trial, a jury will determine whether you deserve compensation and if so, the amount of damages you are entitled to. It is always important to work with an injury attorney that has trial experience in the event that your case ends up in the courtroom. Trials are very stressful and overwhelming experiences but a lawyer will have the experience and expertise to give you the best chance of success.
Mistakes to Avoid in
Personal Injury Cases
While the law allows accident victims to recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, and more, obtaining it is not easy. Personal injury cases present many obstacles and there are many mistakes that can be made. The most common of these are as follows:
- Talking about your case: While you can talk about your injuries and how they are affecting your life with your spouse, children, and loved ones, you should be careful about who you share details about the legal aspect of your case with. Certainly, do not share any information on social media and in fact, stay off of all platforms until your case is over.
- Failing to seek medical treatment: Getting treatment for your injuries is of critical importance so they do not become worse and you can recover more quickly. Seeing a doctor and receiving a diagnosis also documents the full severity and nature of your injuries, making it easier to prove them to the insurance company. Failing to follow through with treatment or your doctor’s recommendations will also hurt your case, as the insurer will argue that you are not as injured as you claimed.
- Returning to work too quickly: You should take the full amount of time necessary to recover. Never return to work, or intense physical activity, until your doctor has approved it. If you return to work too soon, start working out again, or otherwise push yourself physically, the insurance company will again argue that your injuries are not as bad as you had said.
- Accepting a settlement offer too quickly: You may be shocked, and relieved, when an insurance adjuster contacts you in the days, or even moments, following an accident. You may feel surprised that they are so willing to offer you a settlement right away. Unfortunately, they are only hoping you will accept the settlement because it is far too low to fully cover the cost of your injuries. If you accept it, you cannot return to them in the future for more compensation. Never accept a settlement offer until you have let an injury attorney review it.
and Insurance Companies
If you have been seriously injured due to the negligence or careless actions of an individual or business, enlist the help of a personal injury attorney right away. Settling with an insurance company may result in you receiving far less compensation than you actually need.
At Johnston Law Firm, P.C., in Portland, Oregon, we pride ourselves in our ability to work hand in hand with insurance companies to resolve coverage disputes and denials for our clients. Our experience with insurance denials is a great benefit to our personal injury clients. We know exactly what the insurance companies are looking at, and we can head off many of their challenges proactively. This helps us build a persuasive claim that pursues full and fair damages for your pain and suffering.
When you sustain an injury in an accident, you likely have many questions about how to seek compensation for your injuries. The following are some Portland personal injury FAQs that may help you with your case.
Many different incidents can lead to serious injuries and a subsequent lawsuit filed by injured victims. The following are some events that are commonly at issue in a personal injury case:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Pedestrian and crosswalk accidents;
- Bicycle and motorcycle accidents;
- Slips, trips, and falls;
- Workplace accidents;
- Injuries caused by dangerous or defective products;
- Injuries caused by dangerous property hazards;
- Medical malpractice.
In addition to the above accidents, any accident that occurred because another party was negligent can lead to a personal injury case.
When you think of a court case, you may first think about a trial in front of a jury. In reality, the large majority of cases involving personal injury do not require a trial to resolve the matter. Instead, an experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to seek a favorable resolution in other ways. Engaging in mediation can often result in an outcome that is mutually agreeable and can save time, energy, and resources required for litigation. In addition, in the time leading up to a trial date, your attorney can use evidence and arguments to negotiate with the other party to try to reach a favorable settlement agreement that will cover your losses. Only if mediation and settlement negotiations fall through will your case go to trial.
In order for a claimant to be successful during the claims process, they must satisfy the elements of a personal injury claim. The elements of a personal injury claim, regardless of the type of claim, are:
- Duty. The first element of a personal injury claim is duty. This means that the plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant in the case owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Sometimes, duty of care is implied. For example, all drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road, and all doctors owe a duty of care to their patients. In other cases, though, duty will need to be established.
- Breach of duty. Once duty has been established, the second element that a plaintiff will need to prove is breach of duty. Usually, a breach of duty occurs in the form of negligence – the failure to act with the same level of care that a person of ordinary prudence would demonstrate in the same situation. For example, a driver acts negligently when they breach the duty of care owed to other drivers on the road by driving while distracted.
- Causation. The third thing that you will need to establish in a personal injury claim is causation – that is, that the accident and your injuries would not have occurred but for the breach of duty of care that occurred. Another way to think about this is that your accident was caused by the defendant’s actions.
- Damages. Finally, in addition to proving all of the above, you’ll need to establish that actual damages were suffered as a result. Medical bills, pain, suffering, lost wages, and property damage expenses are all examples of damages. Remember, you must be able to connect these damages directly to the accident caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Another question that our lawyers often hear–and that those who have been injured often have–is whether or not working with a lawyer is really necessary. We understand that working with a lawyer is a very personal choice, and may not always feel essential. Here are some circumstances when working with a lawyer is in your best interests:
- Your injuries are serious. If your injuries are serious, you probably don’t have the capacity to handle your claim yourself. What’s more, you probably desperately need a settlement in order to compensate you for your losses. Additionally, the more serious your injuries, the more pushback that you’ll likely get from an insurance adjuster, as an insurance company will be loath to pay out what you deserve. An attorney can help you to fight back.
- Your claim has been denied or low-balled. If your claim has been denied or if you have been offered a settlement that is less than what you believe you deserve, you should get an attorney immediately. An attorney will know how to appeal a denied claim on your behalf, as well as how to negotiate a settlement offer that it’s fair.
- Fault is disputed. When fault is disputed and you’re being blamed, in part, for your accident, you need an attorney. If you are found to be partially at fault, your settlement award can be diminished in proportion to that degree of fault. Which is why if you’re being blamed, you need to get an attorney who will present evidence that disproves the allegations of fault made against you and makes a clear case for the full liability of the other party.
Proving the elements of a personal injury claim and winning your case in court will require submitting a lot of compelling evidence; knowing what type of evidence is most important for your claim and when and how to collect it can make a big difference. Essential types of evidence in a personal injury claim usually includes photographs of the accident scene and your injuries, eyewitnesses’ testimonies, police/accident reports, the opinions of various experts, medical records, and more. Our lawyers can help you to collect this evidence by traveling to the accident scene, tracking down eyewitnesses, sending spoliation of evidence letters, and more. We’ll focus on the investigatory process so that you can focus on your recovery.
One reason that people may be hesitant to hire an attorney is because they’re worried that they won’t be able to afford an attorney’s services. Good personal injury attorneys, though, work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you won’t have to pay out-of-pocket for your legal services; instead, your attorney will be paid a portion of your settlement. If you don’t recover a settlement, you won’t have to pay your attorney anything. Your attorney won’t charge you upfront or hourly fees, and can also front costs to pay for experts and other expenses incurred during the claims process. When you work with an attorney, there is nothing to lose; when you don’t work with an attorney, there’s a lot on the line. Hiring an attorney almost always improves the outcome of your claim.
Negligence can be a complex legal concept and the best way to determine whether negligence played a role in your accident is to have an experienced personal injury attorney evaluate your situation. An attorney will have the resources to investigate the circumstances of your accident and identify whether someone else was negligent.
- Personal injury – Two years from the date of the injury;
- Medical malpractice – Two years from the date of either the injury or when the injury was discovered;
- Wrongful death – Three years from the date of the injury that caused the death (not the date of the death itself).
While there are some rare exceptions to time limits for lawsuits, generally speaking, you will lose your chance to recover if you do not file a claim within this period of time. Lawsuits also take time to prepare, so you should never delay in discussing a possible case with an attorney who understands time limits for personal injury cases in Oregon.
Compassionate and Dedicated
Service from Marc A. Johnston
Whether your personal injury is a brain injury, car accident involving a drunk driver or wrongful death we are here to help. Our founder, Marc A. Johnston is known for his dedicated representation and exceptional client service throughout Portland, OR and surrounding areas. He truly gives it his all when investigating claims and preparing a personal injury case that tells your story. You can feel confident having him as your attorney when you seek our firm’s legal services for claims.
At Johnston Law Firm, we use a strategic approach to seek maximum compensation in all types of personal injury claims, involving:
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– Michelle E.
Mr. Johnston and his firm were incredibly thorough in getting us a fair settlement from our insurance company with little to no pressure. We really appreciated having someone who truly cared about us every step of the way. I would highly recommend the Johnston Law Firm to anyone in need of personal injury representation.
Contact us today at 503-713-6839 to get a FREE, confidential case evaluation. We’re conveniently located in downtown Portland, and we offer flexible hours by appointment.
Johnston Law Firm, P.C. represents clients in all cities and counties in Oregon including: Portland, Gresham, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas.
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If you have been seriously injured at no fault of your own, please contact us using the form.
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