Debunking common myths surrounding personal injury lawsuits and accident claims
Personal injury lawsuits give accident victims a chance to recoup the financial losses they’ve sustained as the result of another party’s negligence. These claims can also provide compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the injury.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about personal injury lawsuits and the individuals (and attorneys) who file them. These myths can cause real, substantial harm by causing injured folks to misunderstand the nuances of their case.
In order to help set the record straight, we would like to bust 5 common personal injury myths once and for all—as well as provide actionable tips on how to successfully pursue the settlement you deserve.
Myth #1: Minor injuries aren’t a big deal
If you’ve been involved in a “minor” car accident or have sustained a seemingly harmless bite from an unleashed pet, you might think that the stakes are low and that you don’t need to hire an attorney. However, before filing and settling your claim on your own, or simply putting the entire event behind you, it’s always best to consult with a lawyer near you first.
Sometimes, damages from even seemingly minor injuries have a surprising way of spiraling out of control. Although you may walk away from an event feeling more or less like your normal self, there’s always the chance of having chronic pain, infections or other delayed health problems set in down the road.
There’s also the potential for lasting psychological harm. Even minor car crashes can leave people traumatized about getting behind the wheel of a vehicle again. From post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to stiffness and changes in mobility that creep up overnight, an attorney will account for all current and future damages. Seasoned attorneys can rely on historic case information and other knowledge of similar past events to inform their calculation of the full value of your case.
The potential for delayed pain and injury is also why you should think twice before accepting a quick settlement offer from an over-eager insurance adjuster. Once you accept a settlement offer or wait for the time limits on your claim to pass, you cannot return for additional funds, and the remainder of your accident-related expenses will come out of your own pocket.
A seasoned attorney is the only one who can accurately assess the validity and magnitude of your claim. Whether you should settle, obtain representation or handle the case on your own are all things best determined by a legal professional.
Myth #2: You can save money by representing yourself
The data is clear:
Insurance adjusters offer more money to claimants with representation than they do to people who represent themselves, despite what they might tell you otherwise to try to convince you that you don’t need legal representation.
The goal of an insurance adjuster is to minimize the losses that their employer (the insurance company) sustains. When they see unrepresented or under-represented claimants, they often see that as a signal to offer low settlement and push hard to make sure they’re accepted by unsuspecting claimants.
With an attorney, you’ll face far less pressure and stress from dealing with claim adjusters yourself. In fact, you won’t have to deal with them at all. Your attorney can handle all written and verbal communication with insurance companies so that you can focus on mentally recuperating and getting well physically.
It’s also important to note that people who handle their own cases are at higher risk of making statements or taking actions that jeopardize their outcomes. Even something as simple as responding to an insurance adjuster’s greeting by saying that you’re “feeling fine” can prove detrimental in the long-run. The surest way to avoid this and other costly missteps is by placing a qualified lawyer at the helm of your case.
Myth #3: You can file your personal injury claim whenever you want
One of the most important facts about personal injury cases is that there are clearly defined limits to how long injury victims can wait before filing. In the state of Florida, you have exactly 4 years from the date of the event that caused your injury to file a claim. However, you only have 2 years if you wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who was killed in an accident.
Moreover, waiting any significant length of time to file can work against you. With each day and week that passes, the responsible party may assert that other life factors and events might have contributed to your injuries. The sooner you seek treatment and document the harm you’ve sustained, the sooner the claims process can be started and the easier it will be to hold the other party accountable.
Myth #4: You’ll ruin someone financially by suing them
Being injured on a family member’s property, bitten by their dog or struck by their vehicle can cause a tremendous amount of stress. Most accident victims in this position are torn between taking the right actions for themselves and protecting the interests of their loved ones. Although these matters can certainly be delicate, it’s important to think about your own financial future, your health and your ability to physically and emotionally recover.
What’s more, just because you sue a friend or family member doesn’t mean that they will have to pay out of their own pocket. As with all other responsible parties, your family member may have insurance for covering your settlement. When you file a claim, it will often be their insurance company paying for your loss, damages and suffering—not the individual.
Myth #5: You have to go to court
One of the most common personal injury myths is that every claim goes to trial. In reality, very few do. If your case is fairly cut-and-dry and if there’s ample evidence pointing to the responsible party, you or your attorney may be able to reach a reasonable settlement agreement with the plaintiff as soon as your medical treatment is complete.
Of course, some personal injury cases do go to trial. With these cases, injury victims may have debilitating or disfiguring injuries, traumatic brain injuries or other damages that they’ll suffer from lifelong. For these individuals, continued medical treatment requires a complicated calculation of future services and support.
Even when damages and potential settlement amounts aren’t excessively high, some plaintiffs might be willing to take their cases to court if accident victims demand too much, or cannot reasonably prove fault. However, more often than not, both parties are looking to limit their legal fees and save time by striking agreements among themselves.
The more you know about personal injury lawsuits, the less likely you are to make common and potentially harmful mistakes. Personal injury claims should always be professionally assessed by knowledgeable lawyers, especially when there’s the potential for lasting physical or psychological harm. From filing your claim on time to getting help from a reputable attorney, there’s a lot that you can do to ensure a fair settlement outcome.