Interviewer: How soon after the injury should I contact an attorney?
Dan Hoarfrost: Well, our business is to make sure you’re getting medical treatment. In Oregon, under our statute, you want to contact your own insurance and get what’s known as a PIP file – personal injury protection – going right away so that you can see the doctors that you need to see. But as soon as you have that underway there’s no time that’s too early to see an attorney. The sooner that an attorney is involved, the better the treatment that you received from the insurance companies will be. So that they’ll make sure and give you the benefits that you have coming to you and not play as many games with you.
Statute of Limitations
Interviewer: How long do I have to bring a lawsuit against those legally responsible for causing my injury?
Dan Hoarfrost: Well, in Oregon, the statute of limitations on an injury claim is two years. Basically, if the case hasn’t settled prior to the two-year anniversary, a lawsuit has to be filed or else the statute of limitations will make the claim go away.
Interviewer: Do personal injury claims have to go to court?
Dan Hoarfrost: No. Claims never have to go to court. There’s always an attempt to settle a case without filing a lawsuit. It kind of simplifies matters and speeds proceedings up quite a bit if you’re able to resolve a case, because once the lawsuit is filed, there are a lot of delays built into the process. However, frequently settlements can’t be reached for one reason or another – either there’s disagreement about what the claim is worth or the liability being contested. Then usually there’s not much that can be done other than to file a lawsuit, and that’s how you protect your rights in that situation. Typically, in my practice, I always make an attempt to resolve.
Interviewer: How long does it take to resolve the personal injury claim?
Dan Hoarfrost: It’s difficult to predict just how long an injury claim will take to resolve, primarily because it’s difficult to predict how long it’s going to take to reach a point where the client is what we call “medically stationary” or “medically stable.” That just means you’ve received all the treatment, and you’re basically back to as good as you’re going to get. You’ve either returned to pre-injury status, or you’ve reached the stage where there maybe some lingering disability, but further treatment isn’t going to accomplish anything other than just making feel better.
Ordinarily we wait until that we reach that stage before we try to settle because we really don’t know what the claim is worth until you sort out exactly what the totality of the injuries is. Ordinarily most claims are going to resolve between six and nine months. With litigation filed, there’s substantial time added on top of that.
There’s no way to predict for certain. It’s a matter of waiting to see how the injury plays out over time.