If you have sustained an injury in an Oregon accident, there are several legal ways to recover damages. You can do it through negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance company, with the help of a mediator or arbitrator, or by trial. The method you choose may partly be determined by the circumstances of your case and how the other parties handle it.
Your Johnston Law Firm, P.C. attorney will help you make the decision after conducting a personal investigation of the incident and consulting all involved parties. Discussed below are the four different routes you can follow to pursue your compensation after sustaining an injury in an accident:
Negotiation is usually the first step any personal injury lawyer advises their client to follow. Any other avenue is used if negotiations have failed.
It involves getting in touch with the liable party’s insurance company to ask for compensation. Usually the lawyer will help you calculate a suitable settlement proposal and submit it to the company. The company will accept the proposal, try to negotiate the settlement amount down, or reject the claim altogether.
A strong claim should have accompanying medical documents showing you actually suffered an injury and received treatment for it and records of property loss or damage. If you and your lawyer fail to reach an agreement with the insurance adjuster, the case may proceed to mediation or arbitration.
Mediation is the use of a third party individual, usually a lawyer, to try and bring the injured and the liable party’s insurance into a settlement agreement. A mediator must be impartial, meaning they must not have any ties with either party.
Note that mediation is only accepted in civil cases and does not affect any associated case in a criminal court. Also, the mediator doesn’t come up with a solution for you. Their work is to oversee the negotiations and ensure either side has an equal voice. You can still disagree and the mediator will do nothing about it.
Arbitration, similar to mediation, involves a third party lawyer or retired judge to help bring the two parties to an agreement. Arbitrators may, however, be charged with making the decision at the end of the negotiations. Both parties thus have to formally agree to this before the arbitration begins.
In many cases, the exercise is only to give the involved parties an idea of how the court would handle the case. The arbitrator’s verdict is thus not always binding.
A trial is what follows if either arbitration or mediation fails to bring you to an agreement.
Trials can be long, so it is not advisable to jump straight to filing a lawsuit if there is a chance you will get something from the negotiation table. They may also be more costly and, for this, contingency lawyers will take a larger percentage of the settlement, if it is awarded.
On the upside, court trials are likely to result in higher settlements. Also, you can file an appeal with new evidence if you do not win the case the first time.