Most people will never have the need to bring a personal injury law suit. Of those that do, the vast majority are doing so for the first time and are understandably anxious about the process. As trial lawyers who have collectively been representing personal injury victims in Washington and Oregon for nearly 30 years, Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards PS, have the experience to handle even the most intricate cases and we are very used to answering those initial questions that are always in the minds of first time litigants.
Here are a few of the questions that come up most often with links, where appropriate, to further content on our site.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer or can I bring the case to court myself?
While anybody may bring a personal injury lawsuit–even non-attorneys, it is almost never advisable to do so on your own.
It is true that you may save on legal fees by representing yourself in court. However, you are likely to be faced with drafting pleadings, taking depositions, or even negotiating a settlement with an experienced insurance defense lawyer. This is a professional legal fighter whose career is predicated on his ability to save the insurance company money. So most often you end up “losing” more in case value than you ever would have saved in attorney fees.
Under these circumstances, even if the insurance company was to award you a settlement out of court before the case ever comes to trial – you can almost guarantee the settlement they have offered does not represent the true value of your case?
As partner Scott Edwards observes, “Insurance companies know that until you hire an attorney you have no recourse available to counter a low settlement offer. You simply don't have the experience and manpower to bring a case to court — and they know it.”
Why should I hire a personal injury lawyer?
As mentioned above, without experience of handling personal injury cases, you may not be in the best position to calculate the full extent of the compensation owed to you. Should the insurance company lawyers offer you an out-of-court settlement, you may not have the experience to know whether their offer has taken into account all aspects of your injury – both past and future.
A personal injury attorney however, has the knowledge and experience to assess your case and advise you on the on suitability of the insurer's offer. There are many factors included in determining a fair settlement including:
- cost of medical treatment in the immediate aftermath of the injurious event;
- cost of ongoing medical treatment and care;
- compensation for pain and suffering;
- compensation for longterm physical disability;
- amount of income lost through missed work;
- amount of income to be lost in the future;
- cost of repair or replacement of property damaged; and
- compensation for loss of family in the case of a wrongful death suit.
This is just a summary of the most common, there may be other forms of damages unique to your case that only a skilled attorney would recognize.
An aggressive insurance adjuster will fight hard to reduce your award or shift the blame for the accident, at least partly, back to you. Having a lawyer in your corner ensures that every aspect of your case for which you are entitled to be compensated is included in your claim.
Do I have a good case?
There are so many situations in which a person might get injured that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not you have a good case. As a general guideline personal injury attorney Scott Edwards has outlined the possible scenario in a case of basic negligence here: Do I Have a Good Case?
Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards PS, represent injured persons in their claims against insurance companies. We do so on a contingency basis, meaning there there is only a fee to pay if we win your case through settlement or a judgement. During the initial consultation, which is free, we will be able to give you a clear outline of what to expect during the litigation process and discuss the merits of your case.