A sudden unexpected injury can bring life as you know it to a halt. A serious injury means household bills may pile up at the same time that you’re unable to return to work due to your injury. When the medical bills begin coming in it can feel overwhelming. The law considers these consequences as well as your pain and suffering as “damages.”
If you or a close family member were injured due to someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior, you may have considered filing a personal injury claim. Sometimes, common myths about personal injury claims can dissuade injury victims from seeking the compensation they need and deserve. Before you let the burden of dealing with the consequences of a preventable injury—referred to legally as “damages”—interfere with your recovery, it helps to debunk several pervasive myths.
Personal Injury Lawyers are “Ambulance Chasers”
The derogatory term “ambulance chaser” came from a time when unethical attorneys might literally follow an ambulance after an accident to solicit a client. Today, “ambulance chasing” is illegal as well as unethical. Most states have strict limits in place to compel personal injury attorneys to wait 30 to 60 days after an accident to contact a victim either in person or in writing.
Today’s personal injury attorneys typically wait until an injury victim contacts them or is referred to them by a previous client. A skilled personal injury attorney with a strong track record of success not only helps injured clients gain justice and financial compensation but also treats every client with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Today, most personal injury attorneys don’t charge a fee unless they secure a settlement or jury award for their clients.
I Don’t Need a Lawyer Because I Have Insurance
Your medical insurance may cover the bulk of your medical expenses, but if someone else bears liability for your injury and you win a personal injury case, the insurance company of the party at fault must pay back those medical expenses. Added to the compensation will be an amount for economic damages like your personal medical expenses, injury-related costs, co-pays, and lost income from any missed work days. The claim will also include an amount of compensation you’re owed for your pain and suffering. It may include other non-economic damages like emotional trauma, disfigurement compensation, and loss of enjoyment of life compensation for disabling injuries. Your own insurance company does not pay out on non-economic damages, but a well-executed personal injury claim compels the insurance company of the party at fault to pay out on claims of non-economic damages.
The Liable Party’s Insurance Company Will Treat Me Fairly
Insurance companies exist to make profits. Regardless of their compassionate tones and reassuring ads, they are not on your side. An insurance adjuster’s job is to find ways to undervalue a claim or deny it completely to protect profits. Common tactics insurance adjusters use against injury victims include the following:
Calling with a lowball settlement offer very soon after your injury so you sign away your right to file a lawsuit before you know the full extent of your damages
Recording phone calls and using your words out of context against you
Using photos you post on social media against you, even if you were smiling through your pain
Gaining access to your medical records to “review your injury” and then scouring your records to look for pre-existing conditions they can blame as the “true” cause of your pain
Denying that your doctor’s recommended medical treatment is necessary for your injury
An experienced New Haven personal injury attorney knows how to anticipate and counteract these tactics. It’s best to hire an attorney and refer all communication with insurance representatives to your lawyer.
I’ll Have to Testify Against the Liable Party in Court
No one relishes the idea of a courtroom appearance and testifying in front of a judge and jury, especially with the defendant in the room. Fortunately, over 90% of personal injury claims are resolved with a settlement so the injury victim never has to step foot in a courtroom. A skilled attorney can craft a compelling case to present to the at-fault party’s insurance company and then negotiate a fair settlement for damages directly with the insurance adjusters. Only in cases of insurance company bad faith practices and the denial of a valid claim does the case become a lawsuit. In some lawsuits, juries award extra compensation to the victim from an insurance company that uses bad faith practices to avoid paying valid claims.
If you have to testify in court, your attorney will make certain that you’re fully prepared.
Only Litigious People Sue Others for Injuries and I’m Not That Kind of Person
Many injury victims want to spare the feelings of the person responsible for their injury or they wish to avoid the appearance of seeking financial gain from an injury. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this type of claim is called “personal” because the injury happened to your “person” and not because the defendant should take it personally. When you file a personal injury claim, the defendant is really the insurance company of the person or business responsible for your injury. Any compensation you’re awarded comes from the insurance company. Only in very rare circumstances does the compensation come from the at-fault party’s personal funds.
My Injuries Were Minor, so It’s not Worth My Time to File Personal Injury Lawsuit
Often injuries from accidents cause symptoms that worsen over time. This is especially true for back and neck injuries. It’s important to have a thorough evaluation and understand the full scope of your injury before deciding against pursuing a personal injury claim.
Even injuries like broken bones, sprains, and torn ligaments can cause temporary financial hardship from missed work days. When an injury caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing causes pain, you can gain financial compensation as a means of legal recourse and justice.
Injuries such as those from dog bites or acts of violence can also cause significant emotional trauma. The law considers these consequences of an injury as additional damages.
A successful personal injury claim can be a voice for justice as well as for financial compensation. Because a reputable personal injury attorney only takes a fee if they secure your compensation you have nothing to lose and much to gain from a claim.