Personal injury attorneys know that their field is one that is very controversial. People often have strong opinions one way or another on the benefits of filing lawsuits against someone for negligence. These opinions may be based on personal experience, or they may be a result of long-held misconceptions about the field of personal injury.
Regardless of what you may know, assume you know, or simply don’t know, the fact is that there are many preconceived notions about the field of law, and of personal injury law in particular. The confusion or misunderstandings make personal injury attorneys the object of many jokes (and we admit, some of them are quite funny), but when you need help navigating a legal matter, the knowledge and skill of a lawyer is no longer amusing.
If you have been a victim of a personal injury, the misconceptions you may currently have could cloud your judgment and keep you from getting the help you deserve. Here are some facts and myths about personal injury claims that will give you a clear picture of what to expect should you decide to file a lawsuit.
7 Personal Injury Myths and the Truth About Personal Injury Lawsuits
- Any lawyer can handle my problem. There is a tendency in our society to generalize specialties. If you have an acquaintance who is a doctor, it’s easy to turn to him or her if you aren’t feeling well. If your acquaintance is a teacher and you have problems with your child in school, you might ask your teacher-friend for help.
The problem is, what if your doctor acquaintance specializes in cardiac trouble but your condition requires someone who recognizes a brain injury? Or your teacher-friend only has experience teaching kindergarten and your child is in high school?
The same thinking applies to the field of law. It is a broad field with multiple subcategories that attorneys focus on. If you have a personal injury concern, you don’t want to go to a family law attorney who handles divorces and custody issues, and vice versa. Be sure you are treated by a doctor who specializes in the care you need, and go to an attorney with experience in the area you need legal expertise in.
- The insurance company has to be fair. The myth is that if you handle your personal injury claim yourself, your insurance company will give you at least the minimum of what you deserve. The truth is that insurance companies are not in business to be fair to you – they are in the business of improving their bottom line.
To do this, they avoid telling you about parts of your policy that you may be entitled to and not aware of, offer you less than you could get for your repairs, and attempt to trick you into saying things that may hurt you down the road if you decide to file a lawsuit. In some cases, what you say may even be enough to get them to legally deny payment of your medical claims or property damage.
Instead of trusting in an adjuster who has their company’s best interests in mind, let the attorneys at Hershey Law communicate with your insurance companies to get you the maximum recovery possible.
- Most people who file personal injury lawsuits aren’t really hurt. Unfortunately, sometimes this is true. There are people out there willing to milk the system any time they can and they may even be able to find an attorney willing to help them. At Hershey Law, though, our goal is to get you compensation for your injuries, big or small, and to do so in a morally, ethically, and legally correct manner.
In general, it’s pretty difficult to win a personal injury lawsuit if you did not sustain at least some injury. These types of claims rely heavily on medical evidence as proof of injury, and that injury has to be proven to be directly caused by the accident in question.
So while this myth is based partially in the truth that there will always be someone out there trying to take advantage of someone else, the fact is that people really do get hurt in personal injury situations and they need an expert to help them get compensated for those injuries.
- Filing a lawsuit is too expensive. Personal injury claims can get complicated. Most of the time, they are not cut and dried. There will probably be an investigation that needs to be done by your lawyer, paperwork that needs to be filed, extensions of deadlines made, and an abundance of other legal aspects just in a basic case.
If your case is more complex, it will likely require months or even years until it can be mediated or go to trial. These costs do add up. But for many personal injury attorneys, the work is done on what is called a “contingency basis.” This means that their payment is “contingent,” or based on, you winning your case. This helps you to know that your lawyer has your best interests in mind, since they only get paid if you do.
- Personal injury cases can only be won in court. Movies and media have helped perpetuate this myth. The dramatic trial scene during which a crucial piece of evidence is revealed that shows the defendant is, in fact, guilty and the victim finally gets their happy ending. But this is TV drama at its best. The truth of personal injury claims is less momentous and more monotonous.
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court . This is not a bad thing – trials are expensive and carry a risk for both sides to lose. If your attorney can negotiate a fair settlement for you and explain to you the expenses you would likely incur by going to trial, it might be a smart choice to agree to the settlement terms.
- Everyone is sue-happy. It often seems like the headlines are full of frivolous lawsuits. The myth that everyone is sue-happy is based in part on the fact that the media likes to jump on these frivolous claims and call attention to them.
But the fact is that most lawsuits are not frivolous. They are brought into the legal arena because someone acted negligently, the insurance companies did not want to pay a reasonable compensation, and the victim was injured.
The most common example of a “frivolous” lawsuit that people point to as their evidence is that of the McDonald’s coffee trial. They can’t believe that someone could have been so sue-happy as to file a claim against a company for simply providing hot coffee, much less accepted millions of dollars for a little burn.
The facts tell a different story, though. The woman in question, Stella Liebeck, was 79 at the time of the incident. While seated in her grandson’s car, she admits to knocking the coffee into her lap. This resulted in third-degree burns – the most serious type of burn – because the coffee was dangerously hot.
Liebeck attempted to convince McDonald’s to pay her medical expenses. They offered her $800. She had no choice but to sue to help cover her expenses. During the trial it was revealed that McDonald’s knew about the dangerous heat in their coffee and had other complaints of injuries that they had ignored. The jury found the actions of the company so repugnant that they awarded her a big settlement with punitive compensation tacked on top of it.
Yes, there are frivolous lawsuits. But often, if you look behind the accusation of frivolity, you’ll find the truth that is not quite so senseless.
- If you are partially at fault, you can’t sue. Many people judge themselves to have been partly to blame for their injuries. Maybe you could have been watching where you were going a little more closely. Maybe you were speeding when the other car ran a red light and hit you.
Myths will have you believe that if you are even partly at fault you can’t sue. The truth is that you can let your lawyer fight your claim for you before you give up. There have been many cases in which more than one party is responsible for the accident. If you live in a comparative negligence state like California, you may still win your case, but the damages will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
Instead of giving up and getting nothing, call Hershey Law to see if you may be eligible for at least partial compensation.
Don’t Let Outdated Myths Keep You from Compensation
There are centuries of jokes about personal injury attorneys, but the joke is on the believer if they allow those misconceptions and outdated ways of thinking to stop them from filing a claim when they were injured. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and your rights need to be defended.
Let’s get down to the truth of your case and forget about any preconceived notions you may have had. Call the experts at Hershey Law for your free consultation.