If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or were hurt in a car collision, everything around you might seem overwhelming and difficult to process. Trying, at the same time, to understand and address the legal issues surrounding an insurance claim and potential lawsuit will seem nearly impossible to process. You do not have to make important legal decisions alone. By partnering with Youd Law Firm, you will have the assurance and support from a team of experts that will guide you through the entire process. We recently sat down with expert personal injury attorney Lance Youd to gain insight on how he both fights for the legal rights of and meets the many needs of his clients. The following are the answers given to the questions posed:
How long have you been practicing personal injury law?
I have been practicing law for 25 years. From the beginning of my practice, my areas of focus have been personal injury, domestic relations, and criminal defense law. Over the years, I have become an expert in each of these areas of law, but have moved my practice more toward a focus on personal injury law. What appeals to me the most in practicing personal injury law is that I am able to immediately be of assistance to people in desperate need of physical, mental, emotional and financial help. It is immensely rewarding to see my client’s recovery from the often devastating effects of an injury.
What types of personal injury cases do you handle?
The majority of my cases are automobile accidents since the majority of people travel by automobile. In recent years, I have handled numerous motorcycle and semi-trailer truck cases. We have also handled many slip and fall personal injury cases, and a number of boating accident, medical malpractice, product liability, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and dog bite personal injury cases. The work we do at Youd Law encompasses just about every area of persona injury law that could arise in Salem, Oregon. These cases include anything from bumper to bumper and rear end accidents causing soft tissue injuries to severe accidents causing permanent, life-altering injuries and fatalities. Last year, I represented the estates of four individuals killed in an automobile accident near Bend, Oregon. That accident involved a large commercial van and multiple cars. That case, as with many cases that we handle, was extremely involved, complicated and emotionally draining, requiring the recovery of automobile event data recorders “black boxes,” the hiring of engineers to reconstruct the accident, the gathering of detailed medical treatment and expense records, and the gathering of information regarding the lives of those killed in the accident. Being able to serve individuals and families at such a devastating time in their lives is what continues to keep me doing this work after all of these years.
Why do people hesitate to get a personal injury lawyer? Do I need a personal injury attorney?
When it comes to personal injury law, I believe the perception is that a person should be able to handle their injury case on their own. That simply is not true. One of my warnings to people is that it is difficult to recognize what you do not know. For example, many people do not realize that there are statutes of limitation that govern personal injury cases or the length of those statutes of limitation. Statutes of limitations are laws that require a personal injury case be settled or for a lawsuit to have been filed within a certain period of time following the sustaining of an injury. In Oregon, the standard statute of limitation on a personal injury claim is 2 years. However, in some circumstances, medical malpractice claims may have an extended statute of limitation based on when the injured person discovery the injury. In cases involving minors, statutes of limitation can be extended for a period of time depending upon the age of the minor. If the claim is being made against a governmental body, a notice of tort claim must be served upon that governmental body within 180 days of the injury, effectively shortening the statute of limitation to about 6 months. To add to the complication of serving a notice of tort claim is the difficulty of recognizing when a governmental body is involved in a case. Many people fail to recognize that public buses are usually, but not always, operated by governmental bodies. Other people fail to recognize when certain hospitals are represented by governmental bodies. People simply do not appreciate all of the complications that can arise making a personal injury claim. Having a personal injury lawyer on your side will greatly simplify the process, give you confidence that all legal issues will be addressed appropriately and thereby reduce your stress.
An additional difficulty with these cases is that you are almost always dealing with an insurance company, not the other party. This puts you at a disadvantage, as these insurance companies have years and years of experience defending injury claims and teams of lawyers at their call. In fact, sometimes insurance companies will call my clients and try to talk about how they are doing while recording the call. They will try to downplay my client’s injuries to settle at a much lower dollar amount than they should receive. When we are hired, the insurance company cannot contact the injured party and must only communicate with our office. Hiring a personal injury attorney offers a shield and protection against shrewd tactics by insurance companies.
My office helps to identify damages caused, including automobile damage; automobile towing and storage fees; rental car expenses; damage to personal property, such as clothing, electronics and other items damaged or destroyed; wage loss and what resources exist for payment of wage loss; medical bills and what resources exist for payment of medical bills; the hiring of housekeepers or child care providers to help with the essential services of a homemaker; pain and suffering and other “non-economic” damages; permanency of injuries; temporary and permanent disabilities, future medical bills; and future lost wage.
My office spends a great amount of time tracking and processing medical expenses. There are laws that govern medical billing for personal injury claims, how insurance companies must pay those bills, which insurance companies must pay those bills and whether the medical provider is required to write-off balances of their bills that are not paid by insurance. There are laws that govern the maximum amount of medical bills that an insurance company is required to cover and the maximum length of time for which they are required to cover medical bills. There are complicated state and federal laws that govern whether an insurance company is legally entitled to claim a lien against an injured persons personal injury claim and whether they must discount their lien in some circumstances.
My office also spends a great amount of time tracking our and processing our clients’ lost wages. There are laws that govern the maximum amount of lost wage an insurance company is required to cover and the maximum length of time for which they are required to cover lost wage.
The last thing I would mention here is that a “red flag” should be raised when an insurance company downplays the need for you to consult with or hire an attorney. What is the advantage to you and the disadvantage to the insurance company of your having an attorney? What is the advantage to the insurance company and the disadvantage to you of your not having an attorney? Insurance companies legally owe their allegiance to their shareholders. Also, insurance representatives are interested in maintaining their jobs. Their advice to you is aimed at increasing the insurance business’ profit, not yours.
How do you work with clients in personal injury claims?
From the beginning, I educate my clients in regard to how personal injury law works and what they can expect. I share with my clients realistic expectations in regard to the timing of and outcome of their claim. I provide a client checklist of what they need to know and what they can do to help themselves in a claim, the steps that will be taken and the required actions to be completed. I have heard of attorneys who set unrealistic expectations with clients in terms of how quickly a case might move along or how much compensation the client might receive. That is not something I would ever do. I have also heard of other attorneys who tell clients that there is no way to say what their case is worth until they are done treating for their injuries. It is true that there is no way to know for sure what a case is worth until a client is done treating for their injuries, however, after 25 years of practicing personal injury law, I can, and certainly do explain to my clients the likely outcome of their personal injury claim subject to certain future conditions. I find that clients are most satisfied when they receive accurate information and can plan accordingly. Youd Law will always be as honest and as accurate as possible.
How do you evaluate a personal injury case?
After 25 years of practicing law, the process has become second nature for me – from a determination of liability to a determination of the extent of a physical injury, the extent of monetary losses, an understanding of pain and suffering, and a determination of the likely financial outcome of a case. I also have a short form that I sit down with the client and fill out during the first visit. Using this form along with honest conversations and discussions, I am able to see fairly clearly what effort a claim will take and what the outcome will be.
What are the steps of a personal injury case?
The steps for handling a client’s personal injury case will vary depending on the way the accident occurred, the damages sustained and a number of other factors. Here is an article about strengthening your personal injury case. The steps most often include: (1) meeting with the client, (2) obtaining documents from the client including insurance, medical treatment, and wage documentation, (3) obtaining photographs of the accident scene and injuries, (4) hiring an expert engineer and working with that engineer to prepare an accident reconstruction – when necessary, (5) contacting and interviewing all relevant witnesses, (6) contacting each involved insurance company by telephone, (7) sending a letter to each involved insurance company, (8) commencing a medical bill and lost wage payment claim with the insurance company of the injured party, (9) tracking all medical treatment and making sure that all bills are being paid, (10) contacting and working with health insurers, if all automobile medical insurance coverage has been exhausted, (11) having regular conversations with the client in regard to their treatment and financial well being, (12) when the client is done treating for the injuries, gathering all final medical records and wage loss documentation, (13) obtaining disability opinions from physicians licensed to provide such information, (14) hiring an economist to calculate future lost wage – when necessary, (15) meeting with he client to discuss all medical records, lost wage records, and their overall medical and financial condition, (16) preparing a demand letter to be sent to the insurance company of the party that injured my client, (17) negotiating toward a settlement and settling the case if the insurance company offers an amount that justifies settlement, (18) negotiating for reductions of liens of insurers and unpaid medical providers, and (19) commencing litigation – if necessary. There is not enough space in this short article to explain the very detailed and time-consuming process of litigating a personal injury claim.
Do personal injury cases go to trial?
On overage, 90% of my personal injury cases settle before a suit is filed. Of the 10% that are filed as a lawsuit, another 5% will settle before a case goes to trial. We work hard in the initiation and settling phases of an insurance claim so that the client can avoid the time-consuming and expensive process of having to take a case all the way through trial. If a case is prepared and presented correctly, fair compensation can usually be obtained and trial can be avoided. Nonetheless, there are certain circumstances where insurance companies do not make fair offers and cases need to be taken to trial.
How long do personal injury cases typically take?
This really comes down to each individual case. Typically, it takes as long as it takes for the client to become medical stationery. This means that the client’s medical condition is not getting worse and they have arrived at a condition of maximum medical improvement. To become medically stationary, it can take a client anywhere from a number of weeks to a number of months to a number of years. It really depends on the individual injuries sustained and the quality of medical care provided. The average for soft tissue injuries is about 6 months.
What are the fees associated with a personal injury?
Youd Law works on a contingency basis. This means that when we recover money for a client, we get paid a percentage of what we recover. If a client does not recover any money, we do not get paid. That has not happened more than a couple of times in 25 years we have been in operation and only happened because of some very difficult fact patterns that caused great uncertainty in regard to the cause of an accident and the injuries sustained. We pay all out-of-pocket expenses on the clients behalf and reimburse ourselves when the case is resolved. There is no out-of-pocket expense to hire Youd Law.
Who handles my personal injury case at Youd Law?
If you work with Youd Law, you’ll be working with me, Lance Youd. If I am available when you call, my staff will put you directly on the telephone with me. When you have an appointment to discuss your claim, you will meet with me – not another staff member. That is part of what sets us apart from other law firms. We have continuity of representation with one attorney rather than handing you off to other attorneys. It is important to keep in mind that the cases that I am taking are cases that I believe in.
Would like to work with Youd Law? Contact us today to discuss your case.
If you have other concerns, check out our related post “Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Attorney“