When you hear the phrase “personal injury law” or “injury attorney,” what springs to mind? It’s very likely you recall that quintessential giant billboard you pass on your daily commute, start humming a catchy jingle from a radio ad or remember an advertisement from the back cover of the Yellow Pages. (That is, if you even remember the Yellow Pages at all!)
The reality of personal injury law, however, is worlds removed from this popular (mis)conception. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about this facet of law and the dedicated professionals who have devoted their lives to helping victims of car accidents, slip, and fall accidents, and other instances of negligence that have caused innocent people to be injured. Today we’re taking a look at five of those myths, and debunking them one by one. Read on for the straight scoop!
MYTH: A personal injury lawsuit will result in a lengthy, stressful trial.
Maybe it is because of all those courtroom television dramas, but many people think that if they sue someone or some entity — say, the manufacturer of those faulty brakes that led to your car accident — they will have to go to court.
The truth is that a very small percentage of personal injury cases ever make it to the court. It’s only about 5%, in fact!
The insurance companies don’t want to go to court any more than you do, so their lawyers, and yours will work hard to reach a settlement agreement and avoid a trial. However, just because you’ll probably settle out of court is no reason to accept the first figure offered as a settlement from your insurance company. Your attorney should make it clear to the insurance company’s representative that you two are willing and ready to move forward with a trial if necessary if they refuse to give you what you deserve.
MYTH: Personal injury lawsuits are frivolous and the people who pursue them are just in it for the money and greedy.
Americans are an extremely litigious society. Everyone knows this. If an insurance company is going to award a settlement, why move forward with a lawsuit and put yourself at risk for wasting your time?
Actually, it turns out that we’re nowhere near as lawsuit-happy as we think we are. Only one out of every 10 Americans file a claim for compensation when they have been injured, and as we have already seen, only a very small percentage of these will actually see the inside of a courtroom.
We have a few high-profile lawsuits, as well as those ubiquitous TV dramas, to thank for this myth. It all began with the infamous scalding coffee case, Liebeck v. McDonald’s, in which an elderly woman sued the fast food juggernaut after sustaining severe burns from a lava-hot cup of java. Cases like these that are highly publicized and that go viral in this age of social media over exaggerate the extent of our litigiousness.
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you are absolutely entitled to compensation for lost wages, loss of future wages, medical expenses, and your pain and suffering.
Myth: Whatever settlement I get from the insurance company will be fine. Isn’t that why we pay so much in premiums so that victims can be compensated?
Unfortunately, insurance companies are not altruistic benefactors, happy to hand out millions of dollars in damages whenever someone makes a claim. The truth is that they go to great lengths to keep all that profit in their pockets. Insurance companies have seasoned lawyers who will fight tooth and nail to keep you from getting the compensation you deserve.
In fact, if your personal injury attorney advises taking the first settlement amount that’s offered, it’s time to get a new attorney. “Personal injury attorneys are uniquely qualified to help you file a claim because they know how the insurance companies and courts operate,” says The Barnes Firm in San Francisco. Find out more about how the settlement negotiation process works by visiting https://www.thebarnesfirm.com/contact-us/san-francisco-personal-injury-attorneys/.
MYTH: No attorney will take me on as a client unless I can pay an exorbitant retainer.
That’s just not how personal injury law works. An attorney who specializes in this area of law generally works on contingency. That means he or she will not get paid unless and until you reach a settlement agreement or win your court case and receive compensation.
Why does it work this way? There are a couple of reasons. One is to level the playing field — many Americans would not be able to afford an attorney if they had to pay his or her fees up front. The contingency system also ensures that your attorney will do everything possible to get you the highest amount of damages possible. After all, their paycheck is riding on it!
MYTH: There’s plenty of time. I’ll wait until my body is healed and I’ve gone back to work to file a lawsuit.
You might not have as much time as you think. Every U.S. state has a statute of limitations concerning how long after an accident a plaintiff can file a lawsuit. In many states, this is only a few years.
It’s understandable that you want to take your time recovering, both physically and emotionally, from the trauma of your accident before engaging in a legal battle. But don’t put it off too long — the clock is ticking.
Deciding to contact a personal injury attorney in the aftermath of a vehicular accident, construction accident, botched surgery, wrongful death or any other situation caused by another’s negligence can be a difficult choice. However, know that the attorney won’t charge you up front for the consultation. There is no obligation, and the attorney can answer all of your questions and advise you as to whether or not you have a good case. In short, there’s nothing to lose — and everything to gain.