7 Personal Injury Myths (Debunked)Posted on: May 10, 2022
With over 80 years of combined experience, we’re no strangers to personal injury law’s myths and misinformation.
These beliefs are not just incorrect. They can be downright dangerous, especially if they keep injured victims from getting the representation they need.
We’ve heard it all, from “I can’t afford a personal injury attorney” to “My injuries are not severe enough to warrant a case.” These myths are why you need an experienced attorney by your side. They can tell you whether your case is valid and what your next steps should be.
1. My Insurance Will Cover Everything
While insurance is supposed to work that way, it often doesn’t. And this can be for a number of reasons.
You may have the friendliest and most honest insurance agent out there. However, your agent does not control what the insurance company will do regarding the claim. They can try and help but there is only so much your agent can do.
Once the claim is made, the insurance company is in control. The insurance company is still a business, and being in business means they are trying to make money. That often means paying as little as possible on the claim.
Additionally, your coverage may not be sufficient to pay for the damages you suffered. If you are in an auto accident, your insurance will cover your medical expenses at 80% and lost wages at 60%. However, this is only up to a limit of $10,000. And with the increasing cost of medical treatment, that amount can be gone in one ER visit. You could be liable for tens of thousands of dollars of treatment expenses.
Insurance companies often offer settlement amounts that don’t come close to covering the many losses our clients experience. It’s not just the cost of the injury, medical bills, or ER visits. If your injury is severe enough, there may be mental anguish, lost wages, loss of a job or future earning capacity, and more. You’d not only be stuck with those extra bills, but then you may have no job to pay for them.
2. Personal Injury Attorneys Are “Ambulance Chasers”
First, what is an ambulance chaser? In short, it’s a lawyer who will seek out injured patients in order to “chase” the case. It is a negative connotation that the attorney is being less than ethical.
We commonly hear this as a joke when people learn that we practice personal injury law, but we rarely laugh.
While some lawyers may be considered “ambulance chasers,” not all personal injury attorneys try to use you to make a quick buck. Instead, most lawyers use their skills to help people get the compensation they expected when they purchased an insurance policy.
If a personal injury attorney approaches you shortly after your injury or while in the hospital, do not call them. They don’t have your best interests at heart, and they will be looking to make money off of you rather than helping you get the compensation you deserve.
If an attorney will do something that is not allowed by the ethical rules—soliciting your business—you can rest assured that is not the type of attorney that will have your best interest in mind.
3. Personal Injury Lawsuits Are Frivolous
Unfortunately, we see a lot of clients that deserve justice, but they are afraid that they will be deemed “sue happy” or frivolous for thinking of suing a company. If you’ve been injured because of a company’s negligence, you deserve compensation.
Many people have heard of the famous McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit, which often was used as an example of a frivolous lawsuit. However, the case goes much deeper than just a woman who spilled hot coffee on herself. McDonald’s admitted that they knew for years that their coffee could cause severe burns and had received many corporate complaints to that effect.
McDonald’s standard temperature for coffee was 180-190°, and coffee that hot can cause 3rd degree burns in seconds. Stella Liebeck was 79 years old when the coffee spilled on her lap. She was wearing sweatpants, which stuck to her legs and kept the hot coffee from being easily wiped away. And that case could have been settled for the medical expenses but the company chose to fight it.
So it’s easy to see that as “frivolous” as a case may seem, there’s usually more to it than meets the eye. This was not just a case of hot coffee. The attorneys at Beers & Gordon have over 80 years combined working for defendants. And both attorneys can confirm that they saw few cases that were frivolous or lacked any merit.
4. My Injuries Aren’t Severe Enough For a Lawsuit
First of all, you don’t know how severe your injuries are until you see a doctor, so seek medical attention ASAP following a car accident. You only have 14 days to do so if you want to use your PIP benefits. And failure to use your PIP benefits can negatively impact your case.
Keep in mind that it isn’t just severe accidents that may require legal assistance. There are also less severe injuries that can still disrupt your life. As the cost of medical care increases, even “run of the mill” injuries may exceed your PIP benefits.
A good example would be a herniated disc. That seems like a minor injury, but if your vocation is something that requires you to use your back constantly, you may lose a significant portion of your wages or even your job. Additionally, that herniated disc may not resolve, leaving you with back pain that affects your daily life.
Personal injury claims seek to make you whole. Every case is different on what “whole” may be and that is why you need experienced lawyers who can advise you best what that value may be.
5. Personal Injury Cases Take Too Long
While this can be true, the amount of time it would take you to get proper compensation without an experienced lawyer by your side would be even longer.
At least with an attorney, you have someone helping you, doing the heavy lifting, and using their methods to speed up the process. Since they are the experts, they know when things should happen, when to step in to check on the status of the case, and what may be needed next.
In fact, most personal injury cases don’t even make it to trial. Many of them settle, and you’ll need a lawyer to ensure your settlement price is reasonable enough compensation for the losses you’ve experienced. Cases that go all the way to trial take a long time—often years. However, there are ways an experienced attorney can expedite the process, depending on the type of case.
6. The At-Fault Party Pays My Medical Bills
Many people are hesitant to get a lawyer involved because they don’t want to appear greedy or “punish” the at-fault party for a mistake. But does that mean you should suffer instead? Absolutely not.
In actuality, you’re going after the at-fault party’s insurance company.
In cases where the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance, you may even need to go after your own insurance company (provided you have Uninsured Motorist coverage). Sounds confusing? That’s because it is.
Remember in Florida that your PIP insurance pays for medical treatment. But it is only paid at 80%, leaving you a balance. The at-fault party or insurer will not cover that balance as it is incurred. So you need assistance to make sure that you get fair compensation to cover all anticipated and unanticipated expenses.
Make sure you hire a qualified and effective personal injury attorney to guide you through this.
7. I Can’t Afford a Personal Injury Attorney
This common personal injury myth is perhaps the most detrimental because it causes people who deserve justice not to reach out.
Personal injury attorneys only make money if you win. They do not collect compensation if you lose. If you settle, then the money you owe the attorney will be taken out of your settlement. This is what is called a contingency case. And you don’t even have to pay for expenses, as the law firm will cover these as well and get reimbursed at the end of a case.
Without an attorney, you will probably only collect a fraction of the amount you will get with an attorney’s help. They’re the experts and know how to bring you the best results.
The truth is, you can’t afford NOT to use a lawyer!
At Beers and Gordon, you’ll never find us chasing an ambulance or trying to pick your pocket. We believe that you deserve compassion and justice. You deserve to be treated like a person and not a number.
If you’ve been injured, give us a call even if you think it isn’t case-worthy. One of our Sanford car accident attorneys will be more than happy to sit down for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and make some recommendations.