Personal Injury Law and Lawyers- Misperceptions

July 5, 2018

Much is not understood about Personal Injury Law and the lawyers who represent injured people. What are the most prevalent of those misperceptions? We will attempt to dispel some of those myths below:
 
1. The client has a significant responsibility in pursuing a “case.” In reality an injured client should only really be concerned about getting better and treating with a doctor and to do so in as short a period of time as is possible. It is up to the Lawyer to build a case and do the work to ensure that a liability (fault) case is made out and to obtain the necessary medical records and reports to have a doctor or doctors be prepared to testify as to their opinions about the client’s medical condition as a result of the accident and the negligence of the Defendant. 
 
2.  It is expensive to pursue a case in court. Plaintiff’s personal injury attorneys typically pay the costs of a lawsuit so that a client does not have to do so in many if not most personal injury cases. In a rare number of cases it is possible that a client may be asked to carry the costs of pursuing a personal injury case but that is the exception. Personal injury lawyers ordinarily charge a “contingent fee” meaning that the lawyer only will be paid a fee if the lawyer is successful in obtaining a recovery for the client. The fee is generally 33.3% of the recovery although that also differs in the case of ‘Minors” and Workers Compensation cases. 
 
3. Insurance companies will treat me fairly if I do not hire a lawyer and bring the case on my own. Don’t bet on it. Insurance companies make money on the premiums they charge and save money on the claims they do not pay. It is the job of an insurance company claim representative to protect, as best they can, the funds of the insurance company and thus the interests of their policy holders. Thus someone who proceeds to negotiate with an insurance company without knowing the value of their case can very easily accept an amount that is well below the value of their claim. Placing a value on a personal injury claim is a process that requires a considerable degree of knowledge and experience and one of the most important services a good personal injury lawyer provides to a client is using their knowledge and experience in claim valuation to reasonably and realistically determine the settlement value of a claim. 
 
4. People who hire lawyers are litigious. This is absolutely not the case. The laws allowing people hurt by someone else’s negligence to recover monetary relief have been around for centuries and for good reason. Unfortunately it is often not until someone has suffered such a lasting, painful injury that they realize why these laws exist. As far as the notion of “suing for the sake of suing” a good personal injury lawyer will discourage this because illegitimate cases will ultimately be thrown out of court and prove to be a waste of time, effort and money for the lawyer as well as for the client. 
 
5. All cases have big money value. In fact all cases are valued based on their facts and many variables such as how the accident occurred, available insurance coverage, the injuries involved, loss of wages, the age of the client, and many other less tangible characteristics of the client and the incident as well as the defendant and their characteristics.  In other words, all cases stand on their own and one cannot and should not be compared to another. 
 
6. The legal process is too slow. This can be called a partial misperception. It does take time to put all the ducks in a row to bring a case, comply with all court rules and allow for written discovery (interrogatories) to be completed, depositions of all parties and witnesses to occur, expert medical examinations to take place, conduct arbitration and engage in the many other pretrial activities that precede an actual trial.  And of course there is always the question of how many cases are before how many civil court judges in the particular venue where a personal injury case must be brought. Any civil case, including a personal injury case, can take considerable time to be completed. But an injured party with a viable claim certainly should not “give up” on a claim for that reason and it is important to note that the time consuming processes just described are necessary to ensure a claim reaches its maximum potential and verdict or settlement value. Among other things, no good personal injury defense attorney or insurance claims adjuster is going to pay “top dollar” for a case if they have not thoroughly vetted the plaintiff and his or her claim.  Patience is the key in this regard, not to mention hiring a lawyer who can move efficiently, expeditiously, but thoroughly and conscientiously through this process, minimizing the slow-moving aspects of the system and any potential effects of the system’s ordinary pace. 
 
At Post Polak we have a handled thousands of personal injury matters and have been fighting for our clients’ rights for over thirty years. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident and are seeking legal assistance please call Mitchell H. Portnoi, Esq  at 973-228-9900 x-217.