Many personal injury cases are settled before a lawsuit is ever filed. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit is filed. A settlement can sometimes occur even after a lawsuit is filed, or even after a trial begins. In a court of law, the job of the plaintiff’s attorney is to prove that the defendant was negligent or is liable for the accident and caused injuries and damages. We will seek compensation for all of your losses which includes past, present and future: medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and interference with your daily life. If it’s harder to climb stairs or bowl or simply to lead your normal existence, it is compensable under Oregon Law.
The person bringing the claim is the “plaintiff.” The person who is sued is the “defendant.” Each side is entitled – with some limitations – to learn what evidence the other side has regarding issues of liability, causation and damages. This process after filing a lawsuit and before trial is called “discovery.”
Oregon allows for sworn witness examinations or “depositions” usually occur in a law office, and have the same force and effect as testimony taken in court before a jury. A court reporter records the questions, answers and objections. The witness is formally sworn to tell the whole truth, and must testify under penalty of perjury. Depositions can last an hour, and in big cases or when interacting with a very difficult insurance defense lawyer, can last more than a day.
Oregon allows litigants to obtain copies of relevant documents to prepare their case for trial. Examples include medical records, employment records and wage verifications. Defense attorneys routinely try to use past medical records of the plaintiff to prove that a prior or unrelated accident was the substantial cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
Arbitration and Mediation
As the case develops, the parties will usually consider whether to arbitrate or mediate their case prior to trial. An arbitration or mediation can be binding (the decision is final and trial is waived) or non-binding. Arbitrations generally include testimony by the parties while mediations do not. Both systems are generally a faster and cheaper means of settling a case than trial. We will advise you if your case should go to arbitration, mediation or trial.
Trial is a fluid process. We will be prepared. The relevant legal issues will be researched; motions will be filed and witnesses will be prepared. Be aware, trial is unpredictable. There are no guaranteed winners or losers. Witnesses can back out or simply be bad witnesses and juries can make bad decisions. We will give you all the options necessary to determine if your case should go to trial and should we go to trial, we will be fully prepared to put on a winning case.