Why Representing Yourself in Court for a Personal Injury Case is a Bad Idea .pdf
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Why Representing Yourself in Court for a Personal Injury Case is a Bad Idea
Accidental injuries happen with surprising frequency, and they often end up resulting in serious
losses. If you have been injured as the result of an accident or due to the reckless actions of another,
you likely have a mountain of medical and hospital related expenses, while dealing with the
financial repercussions of lost wages. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may even be
facing lasting disabilities, which could impact your future earnings and prevent you from engaging
in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed. At a time like this, you need an attorney to represent
you with passion and skill, one who can protect your rights while assisting you in getting the
compensation you need to recover. At the Johnston Law Firm, our experienced Portland personal
injury attorneys provide the kind of aggressive, effective legal representation that gets results.
While many people attempt to represent themselves in the aftermath of an accident, failing to get
the professional legal help you need could end up costing you more in the long run.
Knowing When You Are Entitled To Compensation
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 31 million people each
year require medical attention as the result of accidental and unintentional injuries. While these
injuries may appear to be accidental, they are often the result of another’s reckless or negligent
conduct. Examples of these types of accidents include the following:
Slip and fall accidents in retail or business establishments that result from wet or slippery
Being struck by or against an object that was not properly secured;
Suffering injuries as the result of a defective or dangerous product;
Suffering food poisoning or being seriously burned by excessively hot objects in restaurants
and eating establishments;
Being bitten or attacked by an unleashed dog; and
Being hurt while on the job or work site due to unsafe conditions.
All of the above ‘accidents’ are actually the result of another person’s negligence. The definition of
negligence in Black’s Law Dictionary is failing to do or not do something a reasonable person would
do under similar circumstances, such as failing to put out a sign notifying customers of a wet floor
or continuing to sell a product even though you know it is dangerously defective. When someone
acts negligently and injuries result, they can be held liable for those injuries.
It is not always easy to identify the negligent actions behind an injury, nor is it easy to prove in
court. This is where an experienced personal injury attorney can be a valuable resource, not only in
determining if you are legally entitled to compensation, but also in identifying those who may be at
fault. Examples of parties who may be liable in negligence cases include property owners, store
managers and supervisors, restaurant owners and staff, product manufacturers, distributors, and
sellers, dog owners, and project managers.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
In the aftermath of an injury, you will often be contacted by the insurance company of the person
responsible. A claim will be opened and an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, your claim adjuster’s job is to investigate and evaluate
your claim and determine whether or not the claim is valid. If the adjuster determines the other
person is at fault for your injuries, they will negotiate a settlement amount to award you as
Many people who represent themselves in these types of situations make the mistake of thinking
the insurance company is on their side and is looking out for their best interests. The fact is that an
insurance company is a business, and like any business, they need to make a profit. The only way
they remain profitable is by cutting costs and paying out the least amount in claims. They can
accomplish this goal in several ways:
Limiting administrative costs and the amount of time adjusters spend investigating claims;
Disputing the validity of claims, and shifting blame for your injuries from their client onto
Downplaying the extent of your injuries and the amount of damages you have suffered.
At the Johnston Law Firm, we advise clients to notify us immediately of their injuries, before making
any statements to the insurance company. We can help you avoid inadvertently saying things the
insurance company could use against you, as well as counsel you on how to avoid downplaying the
extent of your injuries or the damages you have suffered. Our experienced Portland personal injury
attorneys will conduct an investigation into your accident, collecting witness statements that
support your version of events and medical records and testimony that validate your injuries.
When it comes to negotiating a settlement with the insurance company, you are in good hands.
Portland personal injury attorney Marc Johnston is a skilled negotiator, earning the highest possible
personal injury rating per Avvo, the nation’s leading legal referral service, and receiving five-star
approval ratings from previous clients. Client reviews testify to his ability to drive a hard bargain
when it comes to insurance settlement negotiations, consistently obtaining compensation for
clients that went above and beyond their expectations. A key element in obtaining a high settlement
amount from an insurer is the potential award our attorneys may be able to obtain for a client
through a personal injury lawsuit., which provides additional forms of compensation not available
in an insurance settlement.
Knowing The Kinds of Compensation To Ask For
At the Johnston Law Firm, ensuring our clients get the maximum amount of compensation allowed
by law is our main goal. The Legal Information Institute profile of attorney Marc Johnson lists his
extensive education and training, as well as his ten years’ experience working as a practicing
personal injury attorney licensed in the state of Oregon, all of which provides him with a thorough
knowledge of the Oregon legal system and the types of compensation available to injured victims.
When representing themselves, people often underestimate the amount of compensation their
claim is worth. They may factor in medical costs, days missed from work, and property damage
costs they have thus far incurred. Often, self-representing clients fail to factor in future medical
costs and lost wages stemming from their injuries, as well as the pain, suffering, and emotional
distress they endured, all of which can add up to a significant portion of your claim.
In legal proceedings, the term ‘damages’ refers to various types of compensation an injured party
may be entitled to. Under Section 31.710 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, if you have suffered
injuries and losses as the result of another’s reckless or negligent actions, you may be entitled to the
following types of damages:
These are actual financial costs which have occurred or may occur in the future as a direct result of
your injuries. Economic damages include:
Medical expenses, including hospital costs, home nurses and aids, prescriptions, and
medical devices, such as wheelchairs and crutches;
Future medical costs, which may include diagnostic testing, corrective procedures, and
Lost wages and income benefits;
Future losses of income and benefits that may occur as the result of lingering impairments;
Property damages, including losses in value and costs to repair or replace property.
In personal lawsuits, this types of compensation assigns a dollar amount to otherwise subjective
and non-monetary losses. Non-economic damages include:
Pain and suffering;
Emotional distress and inconvenience;
Scarring and disfigurement;
Loss of quality or enjoyment of life; and
Loss of care and companionship suffered by your spouse, children, or other loved ones.
In addition to the above, you may also be entitled to punitive damages under ORS 31.730. These
damages are awarded in cases where the conduct or action of the at fault party is found to be
particularly reckless, willful, and negligent. It is particularly important for those wishing to
represent themselves in a personal injury claim to realize and understand that none of these types
of compensation are automatically ordered by the court. They must be formally and properly
requested through the appropriate legal documents, which must be filed with the court and served
on the appropriate parties, containing concrete evidence in support of your request.
Behind the Scenes Of A Personal Injury Claim
When people think of attorneys, they picture someone standing in the courtroom, passionately
arguing a case before a judge and jury. While this is part of what our job entails, it is far from the
whole picture. Initiating any type of lawsuit requires a lot of background fact checking and plenty of
footwork, and a personal injury lawsuit is no exception. In order to make the most educated and
informed decision on whether or not to represent yourself in court, the following is a look at what
goes on behind the scenes when you hire an attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim:
To begin with, our personal injury attorney will begin by thoroughly discussing your accident with
you, getting all the details about the circumstances both immediately before, during, and after it
occurred. We will discuss your injuries, the effects they are having on your home and finances, and
any prognosis your doctor may have made. We will take a close look at the parties responsible for
your accident and injuries, while reviewing any statements you may have made at the accident
scene or to the insurance company afterwards. Based on this discussion, we will begin devising a
legal strategy, and provide general advice on the types and amounts of compensation you may be
A key element in any legal matter is conducting a thorough investigation, and personal injury cases
are no exception. We will obtain police and incident reports, and talk to any witnesses to your
accident. We may visit the scene of the accident ourselves, and bring in experts who can assist us in
reconstructing how the accident occurred. With your permission, we will consult with your medical
providers, getting statements on the nature and extent of your injuries, as well as any problems or
issues they feel could come up in the future. We may speak with your family members and loved
ones to obtain testimony as to the impacts your injuries are having on your home and work life. In
addition to the above, you can benefit from our research and our past in dealing with the type of
accident you suffered, your injuries, and the amount of compensation you will need to recover.
Armed with all the facts about your case, we will begin negotiations with the insurance company.
This often involves defending you against any issues or disputes your insurance company may raise
in efforts to deny your claims, as well as disputing amounts and pointing out where they may be
undervaluing your total amount of damages. We will fight in order to assist you in getting the
maximum amount in terms of an insurance settlement, while making it clear to the insurance
company that we are prepared to go to court if we feel it is necessary.
Based on our negotiations with the insurers, we may begin formal preparations in anticipation of
filing a personal injury lawsuit. Under the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure, this will include drafting
the appropriate legal documents, securing witness and expert testimony, and consulting the
calendar in order to meet filing deadlines and to arrange potential hearing dates.
At the Johnston Law Firm, we understand how important your claim is to your present and future
well-being. We value your input and make every effort to keep you informed at every step along the
way, answering questions and listening to your suggestions in order to get the best possible results
in your particular case. While you may feel that you yourself are the best one to plead your case
when it comes to obtaining a settlement, the truth is that having an experienced Portland injury
lawyer on your side is not only in your best interests, but it can make all the difference in ensuring
you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact Our Portland Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident or as the result of someone’s reckless
or negligent conduct, contact the Johnston Law Firm today. By having our experienced Portland
personal injury attorneys represent you, we can advise you on how to get the maximum amount of
compensation allowed by law for your injuries. We provide passionate, professional legal
representation at a time you need it most. While you focus on your recovery, we will focus on
protecting your rights, holding responsible parties accountable, and helping you get the
compensation you deserve. We serve clients in Portland and the surrounding areas. Contact us
today for help.