Frequently Asked Questions


Why Do I Need An Attorney?

If you were injured as a consequence of the fault of another, you are entitled to recover compensation both for your out-of-pocket losses and for the pain, inconvenience and injury sustained by you.

The insurance carrier for the negligent driver is obligated to compensate you for your losses. If the negligent driver has no insurance, your own insurance company is obligated to compensate you. You will be contacted by an insurance adjuster in that regard.

Unfortunately, the insurance adjuster for the negligent driver and the adjuster for your own insurance company are interested in just one thing, and that is to settle your claim for the least amount of money possible. Your own insurance company will not help you in recovering your own damages, and may, in fact, try to minimize those damages.

When you have received an offer from the insurance carrier which is obviously insufficient, it is time to contact an attorney. If you don't know whether the offer is reasonable or not, contact us. We will be happy to give you an opinion without any charge or obligation whatsoever.

Personal Injury | Brothers, Hawn & Coughlin, LLP


Should I Try And Settle My Case On My Own?

The likelihood of getting a reasonable settlement offer on your own is slim. Personal injury and insurance law are complex and there are steps which must be taken to ensure a fair recovery. You likely do not have the knowledge and experience to know whether an offer is reasonable. More importantly, the insurance carrier will ask how much money you want to settle the case. Once you give him or her a number, he or she knows that is the amount you will accept. When an attorney attempts to recover more on your behalf, the adjuster has a record of how much you actually were willing to settle for before an attorney became involved. This makes it much more difficult for an attorney to secure a reasonable settlement on your behalf.


When Should I Settle My Case?

You should never settle your case until you know that your condition is stationary and that you are well. Insurance adjusters often try to settle a case within a few days of an accident. Oftentimes, the nature and extent of your injuries are not clear until weeks or months have passed. Once you settle your case, you can never go back, so it is important to not settle your case until the full extent of your injuries and damages is known.

On the other hand, if you wait weeks or months to retain an attorney, valuable information which would be uncovered through a prompt investigation may be lost. If you are seriously injured, you need an attorney, and the sooner you retain one, the more likely you are to achieve fair compensation for your injuries. Memories fade and witnesses disappear. A prompt and thorough investigation makes a fair recovery much more likely.


How Should You Choose An Attorney?

Don't pick your attorney from solicitations you receive in the mail. A good way to select an attorney is to ask your friends and neighbors for referrals and not just to any attorney — you should inquire specifically about attorneys who specialize in personal injury law. Like corporate law, criminal law, patent law, family law, and many other areas of practice, it is essential that the attorney you select be experienced in personal injury matters. It is apparent from a review of the advertisements in the phone book that many attorneys think they can handle personal injury cases. In fact, very few know the ins and outs of personal injury and insurance law.

At Hawn & Coughlin, LLP, we have been concentrating our practice on personal injury matters in Central Oregon for more than 35 years. Our practice is focused on litigation, including wrongful death, personal injury, medical malpractice, civil rights, workers' compensation and employment law. We have handled thousands of personal injury cases, including through settlement, trial and in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court for the state of Oregon. We pride ourselves on the results obtained on behalf of our clients.


How Much Will It Cost To Retain You As My Attorney?

We are paid only if we recover money on your behalf. We are paid from the recovery. Typically our fee is one-third of the amount recovered, unless the matter goes to trial or hearing, in which case we receive 40 percent of the gross amount recovered. We are able to settle in excess of 95 percent of our cases prior to trial.

In addition to fees, the litigant must also pay out-of-pocket costs incurred; for example, for filing fees, service fees, and expert testimony. Typically we advance those costs and they are repaid from amounts ultimately recovered. Consequently, you need not expend any of your own funds to retain our firm to represent you.


If I Have Questions About My Case Or I'm Not Sure Whether I Need An Attorney Or Want To Retain Your Firm, What Should I Do?

Call and discuss your matter with one of our attorneys. Most of the time we can tell you over the telephone whether you have a claim, whether any offer you received is reasonable and whether it is in your interest to come in and talk to us in more detail about your claim. If we schedule an appointment, there is no charge for the initial consultation. If your claim has merit, chances are good we will agree to represent you. If, for any reason, you decide not to retain our firm, you will have no obligation to us. We will enjoy the opportunity to speak with you.


What Does My Own Insurance Provide?

All automobile liability policies issued in the state of Oregon are required to provide no less than $15,000 in medical expenses for each person in your vehicle, as well as loss of earnings up to $36,000 in the event you are disabled for more than 14 consecutive working days. These amounts are payable, regardless of fault. In other words, even if an accident is your fault, your insurance company must pay medical expenses and loss of earnings to you. In addition, your insurance policy is required to provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage up to the amount of your liability coverage. That means that if a negligent driver has $25,000 in insurance and you have $100,000 in liability insurance, and damages which are greater than $125,000, your own company is obligated to pay up to your policy limits. Your own policy may also provide for property damage whether caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver and may include other benefits. Never assume that because the other driver has no insurance coverage that you are without a remedy. We will be happy to inform you of the benefits available under your policy of insurance. We can also assist you with regard to benefits available under your own medical insurance policy, disability policy and employee benefits. We specialize in insurance issues and are happy to assist you in that regard.


What Is A Personal Injury Case?

The term "personal injury" is very broad, but does indeed mean injury to one's person due to the negligence of someone else. In other words, if someone else was acting outside the reasonable scope of behavior, and injured you as a result of that negligence, you may have a personal injury case. Personal injury cases cover bodily injury, economic injuries (such as lost wages or medical expenses), and noneconomic injuries (such as pain and suffering, embarrassment, fear, etc.). As a result of someone else's negligence causing harm to you, you may be able to recover compensation. This is what is called a personal injury case.


What Is A Wrongful Death Case?

A "wrongful death" occurs when a person is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another person, company or entity. A wrongful death lawsuit states that the person who died was killed as a result of the negligence of someone else, and that the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary compensation. A wrongful death case is brought on behalf of the relatives and beneficiaries of the deceased.


Should I Talk To An Attorney About Our Loved One's Wrongful Death?

Money can never compensate for the death of a loved one, however, it is the only remedy the courts can provide and can help in the financial struggles that accompany the death of a loved one. The attorneys at Hawn & Coughlin, LLP, are here to answer any questions you may have and help bring closure and peace to the family while pursuing every legal means possible to obtain a full and fair recovery. We are committed to doing what it takes to make the surviving family members as financially secure as possible after the death of a loved one.