Do I need an Attorney? In Oregon the insurance company has 30 days after you submit your demand letter and evidence (a diminished value appraisal) to respond with a reasonable settlement. Most clients prefer to negotiate with the insurance company during those 30 days before obtaining an attorney. Over 95% of our clients settle without an attorney’s involvement, many times up to 100% of the claim. The majority of the other 5% have claims over $10,000, which are harder to settle. If you have not received a fair offer by the end of the 30 days, under ORS. 20.080, the insurance company may be on the hook for reasonable attorney fees if you prevail in court just one cent over their offer. And you may be able to still collect 100% of your claim. FYI, very few diminished value claims end in court. Approximately 99% are settled out of court.
Beware many of the online Diminished Value Companies that are actually Attorneys. These companies will say you’ll pay nothing up front until they settle. Reality is you’ll be receiving pennies on the dollar in most cases and may even still owe them after the claim is settled. Most of these companies work on a contingency of 20-45%, plus “incidentals”. Incidentals may include appraisals, inspections, expert witnesses and even copies. These are marked up by the law office. Here’s an example:
Settled for $8,000
minus 45% of $8,000 = $3,600 for the attorney’s contingency
minus $800. for the appraisal
minus $350. for inspection
minus $800. expert consultations
minus $1200. expert testimony
minus 100 pages of copies @ $3 per page = $300. (we’ve seen this as high as $10 per page)
Total Paid to Attorney: $5,150
Owner’s Net: $2,850.
Many of these companies don’t even know about Oregon’s ORS.20.080 and in turn may not file for it. Since most of these claims are settled out of court, it may be to the claimant’s advantage to wait until after they’ve exhausted conversational means before turning over to an attorney. By obtaining the appraisal first, you also can fore go the attorney up-charging for the appraisal and/or inspection.