Joseph Rose, author of the always excellent “pdxcommute” column at The Oregonian/OregonLive, reports some important…
1. Honesty Is Vital
During trial and deposition, witnesses are under oath and at all stages attorneys are officers of the court, so being honest is legally required. But the importance of honesty runs deeper. Clients and potential clients need to be honest with their lawyer from the first meeting, so that harmful facts don’t come to light later in the case when there’s a limited ability to minimize the damage. In turn, lawyers need to be honest with clients about the prospects for their cases. Though it’s impossible to know the future and cases can change as time passes, we consider ourselves exceptional in this area due to our rare experience as Portland injury lawyers. For more on the importance of honesty in Oregon claims and lawsuits, see Dawson Law Group’s special page on that topic.
2. Clients Need Clear Legal Advice
Most potential clients don’t know where to start when it comes to evaluating a potential claim. There arelegal issues that they may not understand, and putting a money value on something like an injury, breach of contract, business loss, or wrongful death is mysterious. The main sources people have for evaluating a claim are news accounts, personal anecdotes, and legal mythology. These sources, however, are extremely unreliable; you often hear about only extreme cases and you get a lot of inaccurate information. Many attorneys fear giving advice because they may be proven wrong or may scare off a client who’s looking for whatever the attorney says the highest imaginable (or even unimaginable) number. Fear of being wrong is legitimate, but attorneys should have extensive experience in their cities and states, and can at least give clients an idea of what to expect. Attorneys also need to tell clients what they don’t want to hear. It’s far better for clients to face reality early in the process. As your Portland lawyers, we will always give you our best legal advice.
3. Preparation Should Begin Early
Many potential clients wait too long to contact an Oregon attorney. This often creates problems not only because of Oregon’s statutes of limitations, but also because, before hitting such an ultimate legal deadline, there can be short windows to provide required legal notices to opposing parties. Waiting to launch your Oregon claim or lawsuit also increases the chances of important evidence getting lost or destroyed lost. So, it’s important to start early. Acting too late can be fatal to your case. For more information, see our “What to Expect” web page.
4. The Civil Justice System Works!
Despite its bad reputation in some quarters, the American, jury-based, civil legal system does an admirable job of sorting out the facts and then reasonably compensating people who deserve it. A huge majority of civil cases settle well before trial. When that happens, the parties settling civil cases have, by definition, agreed that the settlement they’ve reached is pretty close to fair. When civil cases can’t be settled, both Oregon and federal court jurors take their jobs very seriously and do great work in resolving these conflicts between private parties.
5. The Legal System Is Slow and Expensive
The other side of the story is that, in Oregon and elsewhere, it can take over a year to get to trial, which often then costs thousands of dollars. Avoiding the time, expense and stress of litigation is the prime reason why most reasonable people think seriously about tying to settle cases if the other side is being close to reasonable. As your Portland lawyers, we will keep you fully informed and advised about your prospects for settlement.