The short answer to this common question is “yes.” You should talk to a lawyer to represent you on these claims because of how insurance companies handle smaller claims. In addition to large claims, insurance companies process a huge number of smaller claims valued at less than $10,000. To do this, they commonly offer injured parties very small amounts of money or no money at all. The insurance companies are betting that small claims will just go away without the injured person seeking legal help.
However, Oregon has created a law (ORS 20.080) which is intended to level the playing field for injured parties with smaller claims and to promote these injured parties’ ability to get legal counsel. Generally, the law accomplishes this by awarding attorney fees to a party who successfully uses a lawyer to represent them in recovering their damages (medical costs, property losses, and other expenses including as lost wages). These fees for your lawyer are awarded if you make a demand for payment under $10,000.00, and the defendant (or their insurance company) declines the offer or offers less than you demand. If you subsequently are awarded more, you are also entitled to attorney fees under the law. Here is an example:
- Bill Bicyclist is injured by a motorist and suffers damages less than $10,000. Bill smartly contacts Pacific Injury Law Firm, who serves a written demand for Bill’s damages on the motorist and their insurance company. The demand makes clear that the demand is being made pursuant to ORS 20.080, and provide proof of damages (receipts, bills, etc).
- Bill’s Car Accident, Motorcycle Accident, Or Bicycle Accident a lawyer waits for 30 days, during which time the insurance company responds with a letter denying the claim, and offering Bill nothing._
- Bill Files a lawsuit against the motorist.
- Because the insurance company offered $0 to Bill, if Bill’s skilled a lawyers recover anything at trial, even a single dollar, the motorist and their insurance company must pay the amount awarded by the court or arbitrator, in addition to paying Bill’s a lawyer fees and court costs.
- In the event the insurance company offers some amount of money in their initial offer, they would have to receive a better result at trial or arbitration to avoid having to pay an attorney fees.
- The Portland, Oregon Car Accident, Motorcycle Accident, Or Bicycle Accident attorneys at Pacific Injury Law Firm are skilled at using the leverage that the Oregon legislature has provided in ORS 20.080 to recover for our clients involved in less-catastrophic injury cases.