As we see with many professionals today, personal injury lawyers are becoming more specialized. This is particularly true in large metropolitan areas, and so finding the best personal injury lawyer in Portland, or the best personal injury lawyer in Seattle for your case depends upon the type of legal case, and the types of injuries involved. If the lawyer has pushed themselves to achieve excellence, this system allows one personal injury lawyer to provide the best quality service to an individual with that type of legal problem, or a specific type of personal injury.
For much of his career as a doctor Dr. DeShaw specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries and other neurological injuries resulting from motor vehicle collisions. For this reason, our legal practice specializes in the same type of personal injury cases. Over the course of the history of our Portland personal injury law firm, friends, family and physicians have entrusted people they care about to our firm when they or their loved ones are seriously injured or killed. If you need a Portland personal injury attorney, call us today.
Top 5 Factors in Choosing the Best Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer
Aaron DeShaw has an extensive background handling personal injury cases in Oregon, Washington, and nationally. As the author of multiple books on insurance claim practices, and as a lawyer in insurance class action and insurance bad faith cases, Dr. DeShaw has spent over 20 years studying the internal claim practices of insurers such as Allstate, State Farm, GEICO, Farmers, USAA and others. Dr. DeShaw has reviewed approximately 30,000 pages of unprotected insurance documents, and conducted extensive interviews on former insurance adjusters and claims supervisors regarding how major auto insurers evaluate claims. Our office has additionally reviewed approximately 1,000,000 pages of protected internal insurance company documents during cases against insurance companies.
We have taken this information and created a unique legal practice based upon the way that insurance companies evaluate personal injury claims. Dr. DeShaw has also gained substantial knowledge in his role publishing the leading litigation methods for the best lawyers in the United States, including a period as the publisher for the American Association for Justice - a national organization of plaintiff lawyers in the United States. This knowledge of how to select the right lawyer is critical to you getting the best outcome in your personal injury case.
Not all lawyers are the same in quality or case outcomes. This Oregon State Bar historically had ethical rules about comparing one lawyer's quality of services to that of another lawyer. While that rule has been abolished, the intent of this section is not to say our law firm is better than other law firms, but rather provide some important insights to people trying to decide on the best personal injury lawyer for their case. The prior prohibition left people seeking the best personal injury lawyer in Portland, or best personal injury lawyer in Oregon, with the task of researching lawyers based on available information. This remains the same because comparing the quality of lawyers for your specific case is not easy. If you are seriously injured by the carelessness or recklessness of one or more people or companies, you need to hire the right lawyer the first time, because changing lawyers part way through your case can be expensive - and can even result in you losing your trial.
Dr. DeShaw's detailed study of the plaintiff-lawyer techniques dovetails with his founding and ownership of the leading litigation publishing and continuing education company, Trial Guides. Here he provides some clear information about what you need to know to find the best personal injury attorney in Oregon for your particular case. Here are the Top 5 things you should consider in finding the best Personal Injury Lawyer in Portland, Oregon, the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Seattle, Washington, or really in any state.
Previous trial outcomes: “Does my lawyer have trial experience?”
Large auto insurance industry studies by the Insurance Research Council - a research entity that obtains data from over 90% of all insurers - demonstrate that lawyers get larger settlements for their cases than non-represented people. This was well established by research in the early 1990s, and that information was used by several insurers who consulted with McKinsey & Co. in the early and mid-1990s (including State Farm, Allstate and several others). This is why some insurers have taken active measures over the last 20+ years to steer injured people away from hiring a lawyer; they knew that. For larger losses, trial lawyers obtained 300% more money for seriously injured people than they could obtain without an attorney. This was largely a function of a small number of trial lawyers who were known for obtaining significantly more than lawyers who settled all their cases.
The fact that lawyers who go to trial obtain larger settlements remains true today. Data from Morgan & Morgan - the largest plaintiff law firm in the United States - offers further insights here. When that law firm changed from settling nearly all of its cases, to trying a higher percentage of its cases, it doubled the average value of the firm's settlements. As the Insurance Research Council notes, the more serious the injury (and the higher the potential claim value), the more the caliber of lawyer makes a difference in the outcome. This is confirmed by research from Stanford Law Professor Nora Engstrom.
Until recently, Oregon did not have "insurance bad faith" actions, insurers would often offer $0 or a small amount for cases that were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to over $1,000,000 and then just force the injured person and their attorney to file a lawsuit and go through trial. Our results demonstrate many of these low offer, high outcome results both in arbitrations and trials. There are also insurers who have determined that it is more profitable to make "low ball" offers and force injured people through trial because the data supports that most plaintiff lawyers will not go to trial, or do not have trial skills. The settlements that do occur, often occur either just before trial or during trial once the insurer knows the lawyer is planning to go to verdict. There are several examples of this in our case results, but one involved a traumatic brain injury and inner ear injury case where the settlement offer remained low for six years (throughout Covid court closures) and then increased by tenfold (from $70,000 to $700,000) on the first day of trial. The case never had a value of $70,000, but without a trial lawyer willing to go to verdict with a jury, that client would have been pressured into accepting $70,000 for her personal losses for permanent injuries. We believe, based on practices throughout the US, that an injured person will never get to an appropriate settlement offer if the lawyer isn't willing to file litigation, pay for witnesses, and go to trial.
If you are seriously injured you need to look for a lawyer with a successful history of winning in trial. We do not list a history of our past outcomes to brag. Instead, if you are looking for the best personal injury lawyer in Portland, or the best personal injury attorney in Seattle, trial outcomes are an important factor that should be considered because it impacts how the insurer will evaluate your claim.
Look at the law firms you are considering to compare their case outcomes. Specifically look at the trial outcomes of the same type of case between the law firms you are considering, and compare these to each other. If it is a multi-lawyer law firm, what are the outcomes of the lawyer who will represent you? Cases handled by an associate are likely not considered in the same light as the owner or senior partner. Are there only a few large outcomes for a firm with multiple lawyers that has existed for several decades? If there are no outcomes shown, or no trial outcomes that could be a very bad sign if you have a serious injury case. There may be other reasons that the firm's results are not on their website, but you want to ask for proof of their outcomes before signing.
Please keep in mind that the Oregon lawyer who shows up at the top of Google may or may not have the best case or trial outcomes. Achieving a #1 ranking on Google instead means they are the best legal marketers, that they hired a great marketing agency, spent a lot of time working on their law firm web site, or that they paid the most for "pay per click" ads on Google.
The question you need to ask is: do you want the best law firm marketer as your lawyer, or do you want the best personal injury lawyer in Oregon for your specific type of case? As an objective observer of the legal field, we can say that some of the best personal injury attorneys in Oregon are not getting serious injury cases they are best suited to handle, because these seriously injured people are hiring less experienced lawyers that are much better at internet and social media marketing. But, please keep in mind that a lawyer with one hundred 5-star Google reviews and a great social media presence may not be the right choice to help you in a serious injury trial, if those 5 star reviews came from clients whose personal injury cases were settled for $5,000.
If you look closely, you will also realize that many of the law firms at the top of Google's rankings do not even practice in Oregon or Washington. These firms are simply collecting case calls to try to refer to other law firms who are licensed to practice in Oregon or Washington. Or they have a small satellite office in Oregon or Washington, but their lawyers primarily practice in Florida, California or another state. The largest of these firms, Morgan & Morgan, has thousands of employees including a staff of 150 or more people in digital marketing (in New York City) and the firm headquarters is located in Florida. It would not be unusual for them to show up as #1 on Google everywhere in the United States in nearly every legal category because they have a huge excellent team of digital marketers that work on their website and marketing campaigns full time. They are great marketers and even have some really great lawyers (namely in Florida and Georgia). No plaintiff firm in Oregon or Washington will be able to compete with their website, or financially compete against them for pay-per-click advertising on high value cases. But, it is unlikely that these out of state firms will try your personal injury case in Oregon or Washington. Oregon trial rules in particular are very unusual, which is why out of state lawyers hire our firm to handle their trials when they get a case in Oregon. So, make sure the lawyer you are hiring is a lawyer who actively tries cases in the state where your injury occurred.
Dr. DeShaw's selection for the American Board of Trial Advocates, which requires an extensive trial history, nomination by another ABOTA member, and approval by a national committee, demonstrates why our firm is selected by seriously injured people to help give them the best opportunity possible to get a reasonable settlement or trial verdict.
Your lawyer's history and reputation significantly impact your settlement offer - “How qualified is my lawyer to handle my case?”
Insurance companies have tracked lawyer outcomes for many years. They track lawyers by Federal Tax ID, which must be supplied to an insurer each time a lawyer settles a case, gets an arbitration award, or a jury trial verdict. Information on lawyers and law firms has been stored in insurance company databases, and allows every adjustor at a large national auto insurer such as State Farm, GEICO, Progressive Insurance, Allstate or others to call upon the experience other adjustors from that company have with a lawyer. The lawyer's settlement and trial history is recorded. The data they keep on attorneys, the firm and their staff is significant and can consider whether the lawyer has sufficient financial assets to forward the necessary costs on a plaintiff's case to see the case through trial. A lawyer without sufficient money to fund litigation to completion will jeopardize your settlement because they cannot see the case through trial if a settlement offer is low.
More recently, Dr. DeShaw's ongoing research on bodily injury settlement software used by almost all auto insurers to determine claim value (for which he has written two books, and lectured nationally), suggests that two of the major programs have implemented a connection with the Premonition program that stores state court outcomes (trial verdicts and motion rulings). What this means is that an attorney's trial history (or lack of one) and success at trial (or lack of success at trial) is now being considered across all insurers using these programs, and can directly effect settlement offers. The primary change is that knowledge of the lawyer's trends toward settlement or litigation are shared amongst multiple insurers and can impact settlement values through the software they use to calculate settlement offers.
Another issue is your lawyer's case selection. Some law firms known within the legal profession as "settlement mills" accept every case, regardless of whether it has good facts to support a viable legal claim, or regardless of the injuries. Studies by Stanford Law Professor Nora Engstrom, "Run of the Mill Justice" and "Sunlight and Settlement Mills" demonstrate these same law firms do little to no litigation on behalf of their clients. Insurers know who these firms are. According to Professor Engstrom, if you have a serious injury case and hire a high volume / low litigation law firm, there is a high likelihood you will be provided a much lower offer than is appropriate for the personal losses and financial losses you have experienced already, and will experience the rest of your life. People with serious and permanent injuries are the ones most impacted by a bad choice in lawyers.
We believe we have a very specific purpose in assisting those with complex medical injuries to help them improve their quality of life. As a result, we decline all cases where Dr. DeShaw's skill set is not required for severe and complex injuries, because other lawyers are capable of handling these cases. We accept a small number of serious injury cases and prepare for trial from the very first day. If we can settle your case for an appropriate value, that is great, but if we get a low settlement offer (as is very common in Oregon), we are prepared to see your case through trial. We know from significant experience in the legal profession that a failure to prepare for trial leaves injured people (and their lawyers) subject to accepting any offer made by an insurer, no matter how small. Oregon's very low litigation rate (approximately 25% of the national average) is part of what results in the very low average settlement values compared to other states.
Personal Injury Settlement Negotiations and "What is my case worth?"
Dr. DeShaw is considered the leading author in the United States (and perhaps the world) on the bodily injury claim software used by insurance companies in auto accident, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, premises liability and some workers compensation claims. His landmark books on Colossus and medical bill review software helped explain to lawyers what insurance companies had been attempting to keep secret - that they were intentionally underpaying bodily injury claims using a software program. After three years of research and writing two books totaling nearly 1000 pages, DeShaw created a proprietary settlement "demand letter" format that is tailored to provide insurers the information they use to evaluate claims. For the past 20 years he has lectured nationally on the demand letter process and how insurers consider "pain and suffering" or non-economic damage claims, as well as how medical bills and lost wages are calculated within the insurer's settlement offer. From that research, we also know the specific types of injury claims that are not addressed by claim software so that we can correctly communicate that type of loss to the insurance adjustor. We take a very scientific approach to our settlement negotiations to ensure our clients have the best opportunity of settling their claim for a reasonable amount of money, and that insurers have the opportunity to make a reasonable settlement offer. If they fail to do so, Oregon now provides injured people the ability to sue an insurer for failing to make a reasonable "good faith" settlement offer.
Another issue known from research on high-volume settlement law firms is that they will promise (or infer) a high outcome to get you to sign them as your lawyer, but then you end up with a low settlement without much explanation. Better lawyers know that if a good settlement offer is not made, a trial will be required and that there are no guarantees of case outcome in a jury trial. So, despite some injured people wanting to know what their case is worth before signing with a lawyer, the best lawyers will not provide you a set number because it is an unknown until significant information is gathered or your case is completed. Sometimes the settlement is very limited by the amount of insurance availble, and this is the case in approximately 80% of our cases. Other times we will be against an insurer that refuses to settle any cases as a method of maximizing profits, forcing our clients into trial even when the injuries and financial losses are obvious. Every case is different and this impacts the value of the personal losses (called non-economic damages), and the past medical bills, future medical bills, past wage loss and future diminished earning capacity claims, as well as other economic damages.
A few things about lawyer choice are well established. On average, hiring a lawyer increases the value of a case more than the amount you pay in legal fees. According to the Insurance Research Council, if your total claim value is more than $15,000, on average you get 300% higher outcome if you hire a lawyer. Hiring a better quality lawyer increases it more. By contrast, Professor Engstrom's research on settlement mills confirms that hiring a bad lawyer can result in an outcome that is lower than if you were self represented. This is most true for people with serious injury or wrongful death cases.
In summary, you should be wary of lawyers who provide a case value early in your case, particularly if you have a serious injury. For more on this topic, see the video below.
A personal injury attorney's understanding of serious personal injuries impacts case outcome.
A common factor amongst the best personal injury lawyers is a superior understanding of the injuries in their cases. With our lawyer being one of the few people in the world with a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree (a 4000 hour Doctorate with more classroom instruction than an MD degree), an ABA approved Juris Doctorate (law) degree, and 20+ year history of representing people with complex injuries in trial, our clients get exceptional representation in regard to an understanding of their injuries. Our medical, psychological and engineering research database, containing nearly 1000 research articles, helps substantiate our client's injuries in our settlement negotiations with the insurance company, as well as in trial to support our expert witnesses' opinions and discredit the defense witnesses.
You should research whether a lawyer you are thinking of hiring has experience in the specific injury or type of legal case that you have. Here are a few examples - traumatic brain injury cases, amputation cases and wrongful death cases have some unique factors that deserve a lawyer with solid experience in that type of injury claim. We represent a number of clients who leave their lawyer (often despite our instruction not to do that) who have traumatic brain injury cases. The number one reason they terminate their first lawyer, is that while their lawyer might be very competent handling standard personal injury cases, the lawyer has very little understanding of traumatic brain injury cases and the client does not feel comfortable once they realize that. Just because a lawyer advertises that they will accept a particular type of injury case does not mean they have extensive experience handling that type of case, particularly during trial. So, look at the content on their web site and see whether it demonstrates extensive experience and trial results in that specific type of injury case. Our extensive history in certain types of cases is demonstrated on this web site, as well as in our case result summaries.
Another is, what is the area of personal injury law? There are some areas where you need a specialist. One is medical malpractice. The legal issues and trials in a medical malpractice case are very different from a car crash case. We don't handle medical malpractice cases and despite getting many calls or e-mails every week for medical malpractice cases, we refer every one of them to a full time medical malpractice lawyer. Another is asbestos / mesothelioma cases - there are special issues involved in those cases. Another area of specialty is trucking litigation. Truck crashes are not like big auto crash cases. There are state and federal laws that govern semis, garbage trucks, buses, delivery trucks (Amazon, FedEx, UPS), dump trucks, and other large vehicles. Unless these are investigated, and substantiated correctly someone seriously injured in a trucking crash isn't going to get compensated correctly. Dr. DeShaw is one of few members of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys in Oregon, and this is one thing you may consider if you have a truck crash case.
A personal injury lawyer's understanding of injury testing is critical to winning your case
When you have a serious injury, the insurance company or their lawyer will hire doctors that are willing to say you are uninjured. These are often incorrectly referred to and an "Independent Medical Exam" or "IME."
As both a doctor and a lawyer, Dr. DeShaw has seen the devastating effect of defense doctors who deny legitimate injury claims in exchange for $100,000s to $1,000,000s of insurance payments over their career. He has spent decades studying the ways that defense doctors mislead the jury. Often the insurance doctor diagnoses malingering, somatoform disorder, or a personality disorder as a way of denying the legitimate injuries. This is almost always based on junk science, or relies upon testing methods that were never intended to test specific types of injuries. Often they misconstrue truthful answers to an injured person's symptoms and claims they are a liar.
If your lawyer doesn't understand these tests as well as the defense doctor, you will likely lose at trial. The insurer will know if your lawyer doesn't have a good understanding of these tests, and will push you to trial where you could very easily lose your case. By contrast, if you hire a lawyer who understands these tests, and has a history of discrediting well known insurance doctors, the defense doctors may refuse to accept the case against you. The insurer may decide to make a reasonable settlement offer on your case. Or, alternatively, the lawyer will simply go to trial and expose the defense's attempt to mislead the jury.
We have experience dealing with serious and complex traumatic injuries
- Mild traumatic brain injury
- Moderate traumatic brain injury
- Severe traumatic brain injury
- Post concussion syndrome
- Diffuse axonal injuries
- Post traumatic multiple sclerosis
- Post traumatic myasthenia gravis
- Post traumatic hypopituitarism
- Post traumatic fugue
- Post traumatic seizures
- Post traumatic encephalomalacia (death and erosion of brain tissue)
Internal Organ Injuries
- Traumatic myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Traumatic heart damage
- Ruptured diaphragm with internal organ herniation up into lungs
- Lung Injuries (Hemothorax, Pneumothorax)
- Spleen rupture
- Kidney Damage
- Small intestine rupture
- C1 vertebral fractures including five part Jefferson fracture
- C2 vertebral fractures including Hangman's fracture
- Inner ear Vestibular fractures of the semicircular canals (canal dehiscence)
- Compound & comminuted fractures
- Spinal compression fractures
- Dislocation / fractures
- Multiple rib fractures
- Facial / skull fractures
- Jaw fractures
Seat Belt Injuries
- Internal organ rupture
- Sternum fracture
- Heart tissue damage / Heart attack
- Breast tissue damage with tissue death
- Breast tissue damage leading to breast lumps
- Clavicle fracture
- Rotator Cuff Injuries
- C1 vertebral fractures including five part Jefferson fracture
- C2 vertebral fractures including Hangman's fracture
- Spinal Cord Injury with quadriplegia
- Vertebral compression fractures
- Post-taumatic syringomyelia (spinal cord tear with formation of fluid filled cyst)
- C1 lateral instability
- Vetebral instability (greater than 3.5mm of anterior or posterior translation)
- Disc herniations / “slipped disc”
- Fragmented Disc Extrusion with nerve root compression
- Disc prolapse
- Disc bulges
- Spondylolisthesis (anterolisthesis/ retrolisthesis)
Inner Ear Damage
- Canal Dehiscence (fracture of the skull base, or semicircular canals, requiring neurosurgery)
- Perilymph fistula
- Endolymphatic hydrops
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Sensorineural hearing loss
- Natural gas explosion / blast trauma to the inner ear
- Post traumatic tinnitus
- Post traumatic vertigo
- Loss of balance
- Wandering eye
- Eye deviation
- Blurred vision
- Double vision (diplopia)
- Convergence insufficiency
- Photophobia (light sensitivity)
- Post Concussion Migraine headaches
- Post-Concussion Cluster headaches
- Post-Concussion Visual headaches (from Photophobia)
- Suboccipital headaches
- Cervicogenic headaches
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Urinary frequency
- Loss of genital sensation
- Constipation / loss of gastric motility
- Loss of Appetite
- Poor digestion
- Brain Surgery
- Skull base surgery
- Internal organ removal
- Spinal fusion surgeries
- Orthopedic fracture surgeries including placement of rods & screws
- Intervertebral disc surgery
- Non-union fracture repair
- Knee surgery
- Rotator cuff / shoulder surgery
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder "PTSD"
- Major depressive disorder
- Multiple personality disorder
- Dissassociative disorders
- Adjustment reaction
Let us help you
Our law firm also handles cases involving the death of one or more parties, serious injuries resulting in disability and permanent impairment, and cases involving serious physical disfigurement. If you have sustained one of the injuries above, we already have an excellent working knowledge of how to help you. Our lawyer always enjoy meeting people with new types of complex cases, and personally researching cases involving injuries that we have not handled before.
We accept a small number of seriously hurt clients at a time, to ensure that you receive quality personal service. It is due to this commitment to excellent quality service that instead of the typical brief initial consultation with clients, where sometimes you never meet the lawyer, client intake meetings at our office can take between 45 minutes and five hours personally with our lawyer, depending on the complexity of your injuries. We are also available to meet with you in the hospital, assisted care facility, or your home if you are physically unable to visit our office.