Will There Be Any Charge For My Initial Consultation?
No. There is no charge for your initial consultation with us. Because we handle cases on a contingency fee basis, there is never a charge to you for talking with us.
What Is a Contingency Fee?
We handle almost all of our cases on a contingency fee basis. Our fee is a percentage of your recovery. You don’t pay us any fee unless we make a financial recovery for you. In typical personal injury cases, our contingency fee is one-third. In a professional malpractice case, such as medical malpractice and dental malpractice cases, our fee is usually 40%.
Do I Pay Any Costs or Expenses of My Case Before I Make a Recovery?
You will be responsible for claim and litigation expenses, such as the costs of obtaining records, hiring investigators, consultations with your healthcare providers and other experts, deposition fees, and the costs of preparing trial exhibits. We typically advance such litigation expenses while the case is pending, so that they are paid out of your recovery at the conclusion of the case. But you are responsible for paying these fees even if we are not successful in making a recovery for you.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Personal Injury Claim?
Statutes of limitation set the time within which you must file suit on a claim. If you do not file suit within the time period set out in the statute you are barred from legally pursuing the claim. The time period generally starts running on the date you are injured, but there are some exceptions. In Washington, the statute of limitations on a personal injury claim is three years. RCW 4.16.080(2). In Oregon, the statute of limitations on a personal injury claim is two years. ORS 12.110(1).
How Long Will It Take to Make a Recovery on My Claim?
There are many circumstances that influence how long it takes to resolve a personal injury claim. Settlement is final; you cannot reopen your claim after you have settled with and released the responsible party. So you generally should not settle your claim until you have either recovered from your injuries or you have reached a plateau in your recovery and your doctor has released you from treatment.
After you reach that point, your attorney will need to obtain all of your accident related records to provide to the insurance company in a settlement demand package. The time it takes for the insurance adjuster to evaluate your claim and settlement negotiations after that can depend on whether there are any issues concerning liability, the nature and severity of your injuries, the length of time your recovery takes, your medical history, and how much you are claiming. The insurance adjuster may not offer an amount that is reasonable and acceptable to you, so trial may be necessary to resolve your claim.
A less complex case where liability is clear and involving two to four months of treatment may be resolved within six months. A more complex case involving issues with respect to liability or damages that requires trial to resolve can take several years.
Other Than the Attorney Fee and Costs, Will I Have to Pay Anything Else Out of My Recovery?
If you live in Washington and have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, when you recover from the responsible party you have to pay your own insurance company back for any medical bills it paid as a result of the accident. But you are entitled to have the amount you pay your auto insurer back reduced by its share of the attorney fees and costs you incurred in obtaining that reimbursement for it. If you pay an attorney a one-third contingency fee, the amount you have to pay your PIP auto insurer back will be reduced by approximately one-third. If you live in Oregon, your PIP insurer will usually recover the amount it paid directly from the other driver’s insurance company.
If some of your health care is paid by workers’ compensation insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or health insurance, they will also be entitled to repayment. We will work with these insurers on your behalf to reach an agreement as to how much they will be repaid. Any unpaid medical bills are also usually paid out of your recovery.
What Happens When I Make a Recovery on My Claim?
A settlement of a personal injury claim is usually made in a lump sum. The responsible party’s insurance company will issue a single check. This payment covers all of the elements of your claim, such as your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Your authority is required before we settle your claim. We will provide you with an itemization of everything to be paid out of the settlement funds, including our attorney fee, the costs we have advanced on your claim, and any amounts to be paid to your PIP insurer, your health insurer, and for any outstanding medical bills. So you will know how much you will actually put in your pocket from a settlement.