If you are considering seeking help from a personal injury lawyer, you want to interview them and make sure they can help you with your case. Therefore, it is helpful to have some basic questions which you can ask to help you make your decision. Here are 10 questions you should ask a personal injury lawyer during a free consultation.
1. What does a personal injury lawyer do?
When someone seeks assistance from a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon, it is because they were injured in an accident. Personal injury lawyers help victims negotiate settlements with insurance companies and when they are unable to settle a claim, they can take the case to court and have the case resolved by a jury.
2. Why should I get a lawyer?
Any victim of an accident which was not their fault should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer in Bend. The reasons for this are numerous but some of them include:
- Protecting your rights — victims of accidents have rights which are often not explained to them by insurance companies. Since an insurer has no obligation to advise you of your legal rights, a lawyer protects you from making mistakes which could harm your case.
- Insurance negotiations — insurance companies hope you will accept the first offer they make. Some may even tell you this is the best offer they will make. However, to ensure you are financially whole following an accident, hiring a personal injury lawyer is your best option.
- Experience handling accident cases — a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon will have prior experience handling cases, which means they know how best to obtain evidence, understand how to question witnesses, and help determine who is responsible for your financial losses.
3. Tell me about your experience handling automobile accidents?
The reason for asking this question of a personal injury lawyer in Bend Oregon is you want to work with a lawyer who has experience handling complex personal injury claims. Remember, not every personal injury lawyer handles auto accidents. You do not want to work with a lawyer who has built their business on handling medical malpractice cases if you were injured in a car accident.
As a car accident lawyer in Bend, Nathan Steele has more than two decades of law experience. He understands victims who suffer injuries in a car accident are fighting to regain their physical health following an accident. He is also aware of the hardball tactics which often prevent victims from getting the settlement they deserve for their injuries.
4. How well do you understand how the insurance company works?
This is an important question to ask a Bend car accident lawyer, because not everyone knows what steps an insurance company will take to avoid paying a claim. Some of the common tactics an adjuster may use include:
- Victim blaming — one of the first ways an insurer may use to diminish the value of a claim is to say the victim was at fault. This is a common step when an auto accident claim is filed.
- Attempting to show the victim had a prior injury — when a victim suffers an injury in a car accident, the insurer may attempt to show the victim had a similar, prior injury. While this tactic does not always work, in some cases it does. By showing the victim had a similar injury, they can claim the injury was only aggravated by the accident, not caused by the accident, thereby potentially reducing the amount of liability they have.
- Offering a low settlement — this is one of the most common tactics insurers use. They know you are out of work and likely have financial restraints. They hope by making a fast, lowball offer, you could accept it and they will be off the hook.
Make sure you hire a personal injury lawyer who understands how insurers operate so you can get the maximum compensation you may be entitled to by law.
Not many personal injury attorneys start out representing insurance companies. This is one of the advantages of working with the Steele Law Firm. Having worked as a litigator who defended insurance companies, he brings a unique set of talents to the table — he knows the tactics an insurer will go to in order to avoid paying a legitimate claim. He is also aware insurers want to have the ability to pay as little as possible if they cannot avoid paying a claim.
5. Have you taken cases to arbitration or trial when the insurance company does not pay what is fair?
When insurance companies refuse to negotiate a fair settlement, you need a lawyer who is not afraid to stand up to them in court. An experienced Bend personal injury lawyer will be prepared to negotiate with the insurer until it is clear they are not willing to be fair. Once that occurs, the arbitration process can and should begin. If arbitration fails, the final step will be litigation, where it will be even more important to be working with an experienced personal injury law firm in Central Oregon.
6. What should I do about my property damage?
When your car is damaged in an auto accident which was not your fault, the insurance company for the responsible driver has an obligation to ensure the vehicle is repaired. You may have to obtain estimates before filing a claim. If you are uncertain what steps to take, speak with your car accident lawyer ahead of time so you know what to expect.
7. How are my medical expenses going to be paid?
You are free to use your current medical insurance to pay for bills for treatment of your car accident injuries. Keep in mind, if you get a final settlement which includes medical bills, your insurer will likely expect to be reimbursed for the bills they paid while you were negotiating a settlement.
8. Will my lost wages be paid?
Like your medical bills, Oregon personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will reimburse you for lost wages as well as your medical bills. Some victims may also be able to collect disability payments from their company plans. Talk to your personal injury lawyer and make sure you have a complete understanding of what PIP coverage will pay and not pay.
9. How does the lawyer get paid?
In most cases, when you hire a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon, your initial consultation will be free of charge. This allows you to get important information regarding your rights and your legal options.
Should you decide to hire a personal injury lawyer, then most will accept your case on a contingency basis. What this means is you will pay legal fees only when your case is settled.
10. How long will it take to resolve my case?
There is no simple answer to this question. There are various issues which can mean a case takes longer to resolve, including reluctance on the part of the insurance company to negotiate. Cases which must be resolved in court usually take longer than those cases where an insurance company is willing to negotiate in good faith and resolve the matter without going to court.
If you are searching for an experienced car accident lawyer in Bend, contact The Steele Law Firm, a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon, at 541-647-1812 or fill out their online contact form and schedule a free consultation.