Exposing six misconceptions that can prevent you from fighting for the compensation you deserve
In the modern world, information abounds. Thanks to the technological advances of the information age, most people in the US enjoy quick and easy access to the vast trove of information that is the Internet. Surveys suggest that as much as 84% of all American adults regularly use the internet. With all those people communicating and sharing on a daily basis, knowledge, data, and information are easily-accessible and can travel from one end of the globe to another at lightning speed.
Despite these advancements, (or perhaps, because of them) we are also experiencing a worldwide information crisis. Fake news aside, in a world where anyone anywhere can share their thoughts, stories, and ideas, it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate between reliable information and mere hearsay. In addition to the questionable quality of much of the information online, research suggests that many online readers do not even finish the articles they share on social media. They are sharing and spreading information that they may find interesting, but that they do not fully understand. And while it may be easy to learn the facts about any given topic, myths, urban legends, and misleading opinions often prove to be more tenacious, and more shareable than the truth.
Misconceptions can also be harmful. At Marasco & Nesselbush, we’ve seen first-hand victims of accidents who almost missed out on the opportunity to obtain the financial compensation they rightfully deserved because of being misinformed about some aspects of the personal injury claims process. In this article, we will explore and debunk 6 of the most popular personal injury myths.
Myth #1: If I have insurance, I don’t need a lawyer
This myth apparently stems from the fact that some accident victims may confuse first-party insurance claims and third-party insurance claims. If you are injured or sustain property damage in an accident that you caused, you normally file an insurance claim with your own insurance company. Since you are their client, your insurer will be inclined to try to settle the claim quickly and effectively and you will likely be compensated for your losses. Even so, if your insurance company is uncooperative and you feel that they are acting in bad faith, you may need to consult a lawyer. He or she will carefully analyze your situation and advise if there is a basis to file a lawsuit against your insurer. Nevertheless, such incidents will probably be rare.
If you are injured because of negligence or recklessness of a third-party (a distracted driver, a negligent doctor, a careless property manager) you will have to file what’s called a third-party insurance claim with the insurer of the person or organization responsible for your losses. Whether they cooperate with you and pay on your claim willingly and freely brings us to the second personal injury myth you need to be wary of.
Myth #2: The at-fault party’s insurance company will pay for all of the damages without a fight.
Since paying out compensation is a loss to the insurance company, they are more likely to try to challenge your claim than to pay it in good faith. Some insurance company representatives will go so far as to use dishonest practices in order to completely avoid liability. They may try to trick you into saying things that would be tantamount to accepting part of the liability for the mishap. They may also appear to be acting in good faith while offering compensation that’s far below the actual value of your losses.
Insurance companies take advantage of the fact that many accident victims are in a vulnerable state and may be easily intimidated by the complicated nuances and formalities of the personal injury process. To avoid falling prey to any such ploys on the part of the third-party insurer you should contact a personal injury attorney. Not only will your attorney represent you to when speaking with the third party insurance company, they will also take care of all the legal intricacies of your claim, eliminating the risk of the insurer tricking you out of the full value of your compensation.
Myth #3: A personal injury case will take years and eat up all of my time and resources.
It’s true – personal injury process can be time-consuming. There are forms to fill out, documents to write, people to contact, negotiations to conduct – to be honest, handling a personal injury claim on your own may easily turn into a full-time job. However, there is no need to manage these things all by yourself. An experienced attorney and their assistants will take care of most, if not all, of the documentation needs of a personal injury claim. And while it is true that some lawsuits may drag on for months or even years, such cases are exceptions rather than the rule. In reality, most personal injury claims never even reach the lawsuit stage. A settlement that satisfies all parties involved is often achieved without taking the case to court. Even if your case does go to trial, your attorney will take care of all of the red tape and other necessary preparations.
If you are worried about the cost of hiring a lawyer, you might have fallen prey to yet another myth – that the services of good a lawyer are not within the financial possibilities of an average person. The truth is, however, that you can afford a lawyer – even the best one. Most personal injury lawyers – Marasco & Nesselbush included – work on a contingent fee basis. That means that you won’t pay for their services unless they secure compensation for your losses – either via settlement or a by a jury verdict. Then, and usually only then, your attorney will collect payment. In such case, however, their pay will constitute a percentage of the money awarded to you in damages. In other words – there is no financial risk attached to hiring a personal injury attorney to pursue a claim on your behalf.
Myth #4: If I file a lawsuit people will think I’m frivolous and out for easy money
This myth is connected to an erroneous idea that there exists a phenomenon called “compensation culture” in the U.S. This pejorative term implies that a great number of people try to “abuse” the legal system by filing claims for which there is little or no basis to the sole end of making easy money. However, there is little factual basis or evidence for making such assertions. Personal injury claims are a part of a well-established procedure with a firm basis in national and international civil law. They are a recognized means accident victims can use to protect their monetary interest and achieve financial, physical, and emotional recovery.
In addition, across the U.S., people of all social backgrounds, income tiers, and races decide to pursue personal injury claims every day. There is actually much less stigma surrounding the issue that people normally worry about. The marginal number of cases that might be frivolous or greed-driven are quickly weeded out of the system thanks to hard-working attorneys and impartial jury verdicts. If you have suffered injuries because of negligence or recklessness of another person, organization, or business, you most likely have a basis for a valid personal injury claim and should not shy away from pursuing it.
Myth #5: I can take my time before deciding whether or not to file a claim
While it is normal that, after an accident, a victim would like to take some time to attend to the most important things first – that is, physical and emotional recovery – it’s important to be aware of the statutes of limitations for personal injury claims. A statute of limitation is a deadline by which an injured party must file a claim. If that deadline passes, the victim will be barred or prevented from pursuing a claim even if they had legitimate grounds to.
Statutes of limitations vary from state to state and also vary depending upon the type of injury or damages sustained. An attorney experienced in handling cases like yours can advise you about the applicable statute of limitations for your particular claim so that you can take action before it’s too late. It is always best practice to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Myth #6: I can’t file because the accident was partly my fault
Many people believe the above is true simply because they are not aware of the term “pure comparative negligence”. This legal principle adopted by many U.S. states – Rhode Island included – states that “the fact that the person injured … may not have been in the exercise of due care shall not bar a recovery”. Instead, “damages shall be diminished or reduced by the finder of fact in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person injured”.
In other words, even if you are partly to blame for the accident, you can still recover money in damages. While your compensation will be less than if you were completely free from liability or comparative fault, it does not mean that your claim is not worth pursuing. The damages you might be able to recover under the pure comparative negligence rule can still help you significantly in your financial and physical recovery.
Shun the Myths – Act Without Delay
If you have fallen prey to some of the most common personal injury myths, you still may have a chance to recover damages for the losses and injuries you sustained. The key, though, is to act without further delay. The legal team at Marasco & Nesselbush is waiting for your call. Contact our experienced attorneys and get a free consultation today.