If you are a victim of personal injury, you might want to file a lawsuit. After all, you deserve compensation for sustaining injuries through no fault of your own.
But before you make a claim in court, it is important that you learn about your rights. This helps you avoid potential issues that could derail your case.
Ask yourself these questions to better gauge the odds of winning your personal injury case. Keep in mind that a personal injury lawyer is your safest bet when filing a personal injury claim.
Are You Filing in Time?
In Oregon, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim is two years. A statute of limitations means the window of time when the events are still considered relevant. This window of time varies from state to state, but typically a judge will refuse to hear any case if it has surpassed the statute of limitations.
Consequently, it's important that you file within the allotted time to ensure your case is still valid.
What If I Filed But My Case Hasn't Been Resolved?
If you have filed your personal injury claim within this two-year time frame and the courts have not yet resolved your case, you're still fine. You have not surpassed the statute of limitations. The court will not drop your case as long as you have filed your claim during your allotted time.
Do You Share the Fault?
If you are partially to blame for the accident in any way, it could affect the outcome of your case. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't still file a claim or that your case won't win. But you need to offer full disclosure to your lawyer and not omit any truths about your accident to ensure you receive full compensation.
How Does Shared Fault Work?
To better understand shared fault, imagine driving on the freeway. A driver followed you too closely and rear-ended you. If you sustained serious injuries, you would have a solid personal injury claim against the party who hit you.
Now imagine the same situation, except this time your brake lights weren't working correctly. The individual following you couldn't tell you were braking; therefore, you share some of the fault and you are now partially liable.
What Happens If I'm Partially Liable?
In Oregon, if you are partially liable for the accident and the injuries you sustained, you will receive modified compensation based on your liability for the accident. If you are at least 51% liable for the accident, you are not eligible to receive any compensation.
For example: you drive 25 miles over the speed limit while a pedestrian tries to cross the road. The pedestrian tried to cross early, so he was partially liable for the accident. However, the insurance company may deem you 60% responsible for the accident due to your excessive speed. Even if you suffered whiplash during the accident, you are not entitled for compensation because you are more than 50% liable for the accident.
What Happens During the Discovery Process?
Once you have decided to file a claim and pursue your case, you will go through the discovery process. This is a pre-trial process where your lawyer presents your case along with any documentations of the accident.
During the discovery process, expect depositions, or oral interviews with the parties involved in your accident. These interviews help fine tune and clarify your case before going to trial.
Can I Afford a Lawyer?
Even if your injuries have left you without a job, you can afford to hire a lawyer. Many lawyers will not charge you any fees until after your case is settled.
Instead of upfront costs, they will charge a contingency fee, which you negotiate to pay depending on the outcome of your case. If you win, you pay your lawyer with the compensation awarded to you from your case. If you do not, you might not have to pay your lawyer at all.
However, you should expect to pay a few small court fees along the way. Each law firm and lawyer is different, so consult with your lawyer to find out individual payment policies.
Can I Represent Myself?
Although you can represent yourself, it's better to hire a lawyer to handle your case. The legal jargon is difficult for many to understand, and you may misunderstand basic processes. Without a lawyer to guide you through the process, you might not have enough information to present a solid case.
If you would like to learn more about your rights and the processes of filing a personal injury claim consult with a lawyer. He or she can provide information for your unique situation and make suggestions on how to proceed. With the right lawyer, you can protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.