Q & A

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Do all Oregon Wrongful Death Attorneys charge the same amount?

A: No. Many attorneys increase their fees to 40% if they file a lawsuit, take a deposition, or go to mediation. Many attorneys also charge you for recovering your medical expenses. This can really add up. If you have a $100,000 settlement and $50,000 in medical bills and your lawyer charges you 40% for filing a lawsuit, this only leaves you with $10,000.

Q2: What do you charge to handle an Oregon Wrongful Death case?

A: If we settle the case before trial or arbitration, my fees are 33% of what is left after the past medical bills are paid. If you have a $100,000 settlement and $50,000 in medical bills, my fee is $16,666 and you end up with $33,333. My fees increase to 40%, after medical bills are paid, only if the case goes trial or arbitration.

Q3: Should I accept the offer that the insurance company has given me?

A: Not without talking to a lawyer.  Insurance companies rarely offer you a fair amount for your injuries without a lawyer.   Two extreme examples are one case where my client was offered $4,000 before he hired me.  At trial a jury awarded us $550,000.  In another case client was offered $1,500 and a jury awarded us $138,000.  Insurance companies do not get to determine the value of your injury case, that is up to you or a jury.  If you have already received an offer for your injuries, contact me and I will let you know if I think it is a fair offer. I will not charge you for this consultation. If I do not beat their original offer to you, I will not charge you an attorney fee.

Q4: Lawsuits can be expensive, will it cost me any money up front for filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees, and any other costs?

A: Filing a lawsuit, paying court costs and expert witness fees can be very expensive. Every year I spend thousand of dollars in litigation costs. I know that most people cannot afford these costs up front, so I forward these costs up front in every case I take. Spending a few thousand dollars on a good expert witness can make the difference between getting thousands of dollars and getting nothing for your family's wrongful death claim. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure that they are willing to forward the money to adequately pursue your family's wrongful death case. Otherwise, you may be forced into taking a minimal settlement if your family cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars to pursue a wrongful death claim.

Q5: What do you charge for recovering medical expenses?

Over 31 million dollars in just the last 10 years.

A: I do not charge my clients a fee recovering their past medical expenses. Most lawyers charge 33% for this.

I base my fee on what is recovered in addition to your medical expenses. If your lawyer charges you for recovering your medical expenses it can significantly reduce how much goes in your pocket. For example, if you had $50,000 in medical expenses and a $100,000 settlement, your lawyer would get $33,000, $50,000 would go to repay your medical expenses, and you would be left with around $17,000. In a case like that, I would base my fee off of the $50,000, putting $33,000 in your pocket instead of approximately $17,000. The only time I charge a fee for recovering your past medical expenses is when someone other than the client, usually my client's insurance company or healthcare provider, pays me to recover the medical expenses.

Q6: Do you charge more for filing a lawsuit or going to court?

A: No. Unlike most lawyers, my fees do not increase for filing a lawsuit, going to court, litigating motions, or going to mediation. The only time my fees increase is if we go to trial or arbitration, which usually happens in less than 10% of my cases. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure they don't increase their fees just for filing a lawsuit or spending a few hours in mediation.

Q7: Are there any hidden fees?

A: No. I do not charge you fees for consultations, opening your file, copies, long distance, etc. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure you find out exactly what an attorney will be charging you, as these hidden fees can add up.

Q8: Why is it so important to hire an Oregon wrongful death attorney who goes to trial?

A: Most wrongful death cases settle before trial, but you want to maximize your settlement. If you hire an Oregon wrongful death attorney who has little trial experience, oftentimes they will be afraid to go to trial. Insurance companies know who these lawyers are, and they usually offer them less than the case is worth. I have 20 years of courtroom experience and I have tried over 130 cases. A good example of why you sometimes have to go to trial are the recent results I have had. I recently tried five separate cases where the offers totaled approximately $181,500. The juries awarded a total of over $1,715,500. If my clients had hired a lawyer who does not try cases, they would have lost a combined total of around $1,534,000. Verdicts like these do not come easy and it took me over 20 years of trying cases and over 130 jury trials before I had the skills to get big verdicts for my clients. Most Oregon wrongful death attorneys rarely, if ever, try cases. I believe that these attorneys do a great disservice to their clients and cost their clients millions of dollars by settling cases that should go to trial. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure that they are actively trying cases and have had a number of six figure verdicts.

Q9: I hear a lot of lawyers do not stay in touch with their clients. Will I have access to you if I have questions after hours or weekends?

A: Yes. I check my email 365 days a year and respond to clients 365 days a year. If you email me on a Saturday, you will likely hear back from me the same day or the next day. I don't have my staff screen my email. You communicate with me via the same email address as my family and close friends. Unless I am somewhere where I do not have internet access, I make a point of returning emails 7 days a week, all hours of the day. This process can be stressful and I don't want you losing sleep over a question I can easily answer.

Q10: Do I need a lawyer to help me pursue my Oregon wrongful death claim?

A: Oregon wrongful death claims can be difficult claims to pursue. Oftentimes insurance companies will try and settle these claims quickly for far less than they are worth. These claims are very complicated. You will likely need an economist to determine future earnings of the deceased. You also may need an expert to determine the life expectancy of the deceased to determine the amount of the deceased’s lost earnings.

Q11: Do insurance companies treat lawyers who try cases differently than “trial cowards” that don’t try cases?

A: Yes. They pay their clients less. Below is a quote from Reptile, a book by David Ball and Don Keenan. David Ball is the best trial consultant in the country and Don Keenan is the best trial lawyer in the country. This is why I try cases. Most lawyers don’t. Who would you rather hire?

The insurance companies know every negotiation move you’ve ever made. They know if your comfort level is limited to settling in order to avoid trying cases — or if you will do the best for your client even if “best” means walking out of mediation and into trial. If your trial threshold is too high, change it. If you are or remain a trial coward, especially once you’re armed with the methods in this book, you’re in the wrong job and you ought to tell that to your prospective clients. Your client deserves a lawyer the insurance companies respect. And that respect is independent of any particular case. http://www.reptilekeenanball.com

Q12: Who can make an Oregon wrongful death Claim?

A: The deceased’s spouse, children, parents, partner, family members, and other persons who would be entitled ’s property.

Q13: Will I get to talk to a lawyer if I call?

A: Yes. Everyone who calls for a free consultation gets to talk to a lawyer. I do not have my staff screen cases. Usually you will get to talk to a lawyer right away or later the same day.

Q14: Should I call you even if I want to handle my claim myself?

A: Yes. In a few minutes over the phone I can usually give you an estimate of what your claim is worth so you don't get ripped off by the insurance company. If they give you an offer and you later hire me, I will not charge you a fee unless I can

Q15: What damages can the survivors recover in an Oregon wrongful death claim?

A: Oregon law limits noneconomic damages, (commonly known as pain and suffering) in wrongful death claims to $500,000. This does not limit wrongful death claims recovery for other damages, such as lost future earnings, medical expenses, loss of companionship, burial expenses, and punitive damages.

Q16: How long do you have to pursue an Oregon wrongful death claim?

A: The Oregon laws regarding wrongful death allows survivors three years to pursue a claim from the date the injury that caused the wrongful death is discovered.

Q17: Can the survivors still pursue an Oregon wrongful death claim if the deceased was partially at fault in causing their own death?

A: You can still pursue an Oregon wrongful death claim if the deceased was partially at fault. The amount of the recovery will be diminished by the percentage of fault that a jury apportions to the deceased, as long as the portion of fault of the deceased is not greater than the fault of those who you seek recovery from.

Q18: I don’t want to bankrupt somebody. What happens to the person I sue?

A: Although the lawsuit will have the other driver’s name on it, we are actually going after the insurance company’s money. In virtually every case, the person we sue does not have to pay a penny, as their insurance company pays the settlement or verdict amount, as well as all of the legal fees. In the three cases where I have received verdicts bigger than the policy limits, the insurance companies still paid, as it was their fault for not settling for the policy limits.

Q19: What parts of Oregon do you handle cases in?

A: Although I am located in Portland, Oregon, I will handle take cases throughout the state of Oregon including the following counties and cities:

Multnomah County, Washington County, Clackamas County, Marion County, Polk County, Columbia County, Hood River County, Yamhill County, Clatsop County, Wasco County, Linn County, Benton County, Lane County, Clatsop County, Tillamook County, Sherman County, Jefferson County, Linn County, Benton County.

Portland, Salem, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, McMinnville, West Linn, Tualatin, Troutdale, Sherwood, Molalla, Aloha, Albany, Corvallis, Cascade Locks, Astoria, Wilsonville,Woodburn, The Dalles, Fairview, Oregon City, Silverton, Sandy, Rainier, Monmouth, Newberg, Keizer, Gladstone, Forest Grove, Estacada, Canby, Philomath, Newberg, Parkdale, Seaside.

Q20: Are there any Oregon legal state bar attorney referral or state bar member research tools or resources?

A. Oregon Legal Resources

Free Oregon State Bar Attorney Referral Services and Oregon State Bar Member Research tool can help you find and retain a qualified and ethical Oregon attorney for any type of Oregon Law matter.

Before you retain an Oregon attorney research the attorney for Oregon State Bar disciplinary history. An attorney may have been previously disciplined or supspended for ripping off a client or other ethical issues you should know about before you retain an Oregon attorney.

The Oregon State Bar Member research tool:

  1. To research an attorney you are considering hiring all you need is the attorney's name.
  2. Using the free online Member Research Tool, once you've located the attorney by name, then click: "Show Disciplinary History" (underneeth Bar Member's Information) which will show the particular attorney's disciplinary history with Oregon State Bar disciplinary actions.

If you have questions, contact the Oregon State Bar disciplineonweb@osbar.org
503.431.6394, toll-free in Oregon 800.452.8260 x 394 .

Portland wrongful death attorney Michael A. Colbach

Michael A. Colbach
Oregon Wrongful Death Attorney

BBB Better Business Bureau Accredited A+ Rating - Portland, Oregon Attorney at Law - click for review

Chosen by other personal injury lawyers in Oregon as a Super Lawyer

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Pay No Attorney Fees Unless You Win


Portland: (503) 243-1900

Toll Free: (800) 757-0923