Misconceptions About Personal Injury Cases
Number 1: I have insurance, so don’t need an attorney.
Let’s first discuss that insurance companies are not your friends, they are a business. These powerhouse corporations make billions of dollars in revenue a year and are extremely reluctant to minimize their annual profits. For such reasons, an initial offer from an insurance company to settle will more likely than not always be less than the full amount of your coverage and may not be enough to cover your medical bills and expenses. Because insurance companies employ well-trained adjusters, investigators, and attorneys, it is not a good idea for you to attempt to negotiate with the insurance company on your own. It is better for you to hire a personal injury attorney who is skilled in evaluating your claim and negotiating with the insurance company on your half. This is largely in part because an attorney works for you and only has your best interest in mind. Additionally, personal injury claims can be extremely complex and tricky, so having an attorney who knows exactly how to achieve the best outcome for you is crucial. Finally, an experienced personal injury attorney will take into account all of your medical bills, lost wages, potential medical costs, and future treatment.
Number 2: I should wait to hire an attorney to see what the insurance company does.
Delaying your representation can be extremely catastrophic to your claim. That is why the sooner you hire an attorney the sooner your attorney can build a stronger, more concrete case for you. By delaying the process to hire an attorney, you risk the potential of evidence crucial to your claim becoming unavailable. Additionally, you could potentially blow the statute of limitations on your claim if you wait too long. In Florida, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim is four (4) years. The state of Illinois has a shorter statute of limitations at two (2) years.
Also, by waiting to hire an attorney you might fall into a situation that bars your potential to bring a claim against the insurance company. For example, if you speak with the insurance company and they offer you money or give you a non-monetary offer and you accept, you forfeit your right to bring a claim against them if you decided to hire an attorney in the future. For such reasons, having an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner to help shield you from the potential pitfalls that the insurance company might try to trap you into is crucial; not only to settle your claim but to settle your claim for the correct value of what your case is worth.
Number 3: Suing someone has a bad stigma.
Both the United States Constitution, as well as the Florida Constitution, make it your right to pursue a claim or lawsuit. It is important to keep in mind. The whole legal system is founded on the principles of protecting individuals, whether criminal or civil. Additionally, personal injury laws have evolved over the last century to continuously protect those who have been wrongfully injured at the hands of someone else. As such, it is your right to adhere to the protection of those laws.
Finally, it is important to realize that when you file a claim or lawsuit, you are not directly trying to recover monies from another individual, instead, the money comes from a multi-billion-dollar insurance company. The insured pays monthly premiums in an effort to be protected from this exact type of situation. You’re not taking money from their kids’ mouths or the clothing off their backs. Insurance companies exist for the sole purpose of protecting their insured, so when you file a claim or lawsuit against a negligent driver or premise owner, the insurance company itself is shielding the insured from monetary damages.
Number 4: It will take a long time to resolve my claim if I hire an attorney.
Although it is true that litigation can take some time, the purpose of hiring an attorney is to help alleviate the burden of litigation on you. The whole premise behind hiring an attorney is so that you, the injured party, can work on healing and recovery while your attorney works on making sure you are compensated for your damages. Additionally, it is important to stay mindful that the length of time your claim takes depends largely on how complex your case may be. Many cases, however, settle way before trial as most insurance companies do not want to have to bear the expensive burden associated with litigation.
Number 5: If I wait, I will get a better settlement offer.
Although this might be the right plan of action for some cases, this is not true for all situations. A majority of the time, all it takes to get a great settlement offer regarding your claim is to have a knowledgeable, experienced personal injury attorney on your side. More often than not, once insurance companies see that you are represented by an attorney they are willing to accurately assess your claim and provide meaningful negotiations.
Personal injury cases work similarly to other types of negotiations. It’s the insurance company’s goal to provide the lowest possible settlement for your case, while your attorney is going to do his/her best to provide the highest possible settlement. By holding out too long, you run the risk of annoying the insurance adjuster and potentially destroying any meaningful negotiations. Additionally, if you accept a settlement too quickly you risk leaving money on the table. That’s why it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to help you wade through this process.
Number 6: My family or divorce attorney can handle my personal injury case, if not, I can do it myself to save the headache.
The legal profession is extremely complex in nature. Lawyers, like doctors, generally focus on a expertised area. Just as you wouldn’t ask for your primary care physician to perform open-heart surgery on you, you wouldn’t want an attorney who is not experienced in dealing with personal injury claims to represent you in your personal injury case. Although it is true that most attorneys are capable of writing a strongly worded letter with legal citations and jargon to an insurance company, not all attorneys know how to successfully negotiate and litigate an injury case, the two are completely different.
Furthermore, attempting to settle your claim on your own does nothing but make the insurance company happy. Personal injury cases can become extremely complicated and can sometimes involve case law that many laypersons don’t understand. Trying to handle your case on your own places you at a strong disadvantage as you might be the only party involved who does not truly understand the nature of your case. For such reasons, it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who has spent thousands of hours researching all aspects of personal injury claims and who has handled hundreds of cases.
Number 7: I have to settle my case before I can get treatment.
You DO NOT have to wait for your case to settle before you can begin receiving medical treatment. In fact, it is better for both your health and case for you to seek treatment as soon as possible. It is important for you to seek medical attention as soon as possible as your medical evaluation will reveal the scope and severity of all of your injuries. Personal injuries, especially car accidents, usually involve vehicles traveling at high speeds. The human body, unlike an automobile, is not intended to handle high-impact crashes. For such reason, what might be one injury could in fact be a compound of several injuries. This is why it is crucial to seek medical treatment. Further, your medical bills and records can help your attorney truly evaluate the extent of your case and determine the level of compensation you need presently and in the future.
Unfortunately, one might be left in a situation where they are unsure of how they will pay for such medical treatment. The good thing is that most doctors are willing to work with you while your claim is pending. Additionally, there might be other options available through legal funding, charitable write-offs, etc. that might have to cover your medical costs. An experienced personal injury attorney aside from evaluating your cases and advocating for you should be able to help walk you through this proves if necessary.
If you would like more information regarding this issue, please contact Frederick W. Nessler & Associates at (727) 333-7093.