Many myths have grown up around personal injury cases and how they’re conducted and resolved. Sadly, these myths have caused accident victims to miss out on opportunities to pursue claims against parties that have injured them.
Here are five surprising myths about personal injury cases, along with information to help you evaluate whether you should pursue a claim.
Myth 1: You Don’t Need to File a Claim if You Have Insurance
The compensation you receive in a personal injury case can cover expenses that health insurance won’t, including:
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity due to temporary or permanent disabilities
- Health insurance copays and deductibles
- Home modifications to accommodate your disabilities
- Replacement services for tasks you can no longer perform, like childcare or cleaning
- Transportation costs for medical appointments
The goal of health insurance is to pay for covered medical costs; the goal of a personal injury claim is to restore the financial position you had before your accident. Since they have different goals, they pay for different expenses.
Myth 2: You’ll End Up Going to Trial
Only 3% of personal injury cases reach a trial verdict, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The rest settle, are dropped by the plaintiff, or get dismissed by the court.
Accident victims have many reasons for wanting to avoid trial, such as:
- Fear of embarrassing information being shared
- Intimidation of courtroom proceedings
- Concerns about the time and cost of a trial
Fortunately, insurance providers usually don’t want a trial any more than you do. Insurers don’t like paying litigators to try a case they could lose.
As a result, your injury lawyer will spend a lot of time and effort negotiating with the insurer to try to reach a fair settlement.
Myth 3: Your Claim Will Take Forever
About 50% of personal injury cases resolve within 14 months, according to the Justice Department.
This might seem like a long time, but a major reason for this timeline comes from the insurer. Claim adjusters know injury victims need money to pay for medical costs and living expenses, so they attempt to leverage their desperation and frustration to get them to agree to a low settlement offer.
Your claim won’t take forever, but it also won’t conclude overnight. You’ll need to discuss with your lawyer what a fair settlement should include, then let them negotiate until the insurer offers an adequate figure.
Myth 4: Pain and Suffering Damages Aren’t Real
Pain and suffering damages compensate you for real losses resulting from your injuries.
Economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost income, are easy to understand, but non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, are more difficult to grasp.
Non-economic damages compensate you for the reduction in your quality of life due to injury. For example, pain can cause:
- Sleep loss
- Inability to participate in activities you enjoy
- Inconvenience, since you’ll likely need to change how you do things
You may not be able to place a dollar amount on these losses, but you’ve certainly lost something, even if you can’t quantify it.
When you seek non-economic damages, a claims adjuster or jury will value your losses based on the severity and duration of your injuries. Severe, permanent injuries will justify greater compensation than minor, temporary ones.
Myth 5: Personal Injury Lawyers Are Expensive
Personal injury lawyers structure their rates in such a way that you pay based on the compensation you receive. These sorts of fees are known as “contingency” fees.
Contingency fees are calculated based on the injury compensation you receive. If you get nothing, you pay nothing. If you win or settle, you pay a percentage of your compensation to the lawyer in return for their services.
Debunking Personal Injury Myths
Most injury lawyers offer free consultations. This provides a perfect opportunity for prospective clients to ask questions about their cases and how they’ll be resolved. They can then use this information to decide how to proceed instead of being put off by inaccurate myths.
To discuss your personal injury claim with a qualified attorney, contact Hunt Law, a Northern New Mexico personal injury law firm.