Personal injury law is complex, which is why many people who suffer injuries in car crashes or other accidents caused by another party’s negligence hesitate to seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, filing a claim is the best way to ensure that one accident doesn’t ruin your financial future.
Protect yourself by rejecting these five common personal injury myths.
Myth #1: You can’t file a claim if you’re partially at fault
You’re still eligible for personal injury compensation even if your actions contributed to your injuries. The laws regarding fault vary from state to state, but Georgia uses a comparative fault approach to personal injury claims. If you’re partially at fault, your compensation is simply reduced by your assigned percentage of fault to reflect your role in the accident.
For example, imagine you were in a car accident where you were speeding and the other driver ran a red light. If you were determined to be 40% at fault for the accident and otherwise would have received $100,000, you’d only be eligible to receive $60,000 or 60% of that amount. The remaining $40,000 would be deducted to account for your financial responsibility for your injuries.
Myth #2: Emotional injuries aren’t as serious as physical injuries
When most people think about a personal injury lawsuit, they imagine seeking compensation for broken bones, burns, and other serious physical injuries. While this is certainly important, don’t underestimate the value of the emotional injuries you’ve suffered in the accident.
Emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression can be just as debilitating as physical injuries, especially when they interfere with your ability to work, spend time with your family, and enjoy your favorite hobbies or special interests. You can include the cost of therapy in your personal injury settlement, as well as your emotional pain and suffering. Keeping a journal documenting how your mental health has been affected as the result of the accident is one easy way to help protect your right to compensation for the harm you’ve suffered.
Myth #3: You’ll have to go to court to settle your case
Even if you’re a fan of courtroom dramas on TV, you’d probably prefer to avoid making a court appearance yourself. The good news is that you most likely won’t need to.
Statistics indicate that only about 5% of personal injury cases ever make it to trial, which means that the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court. Going to court is expensive and time consuming, which means it’s normally in the best interests of both parties to settle the case before trial.
Myth #4: It’s easy to settle your case on your own
The insurance company may offer you a settlement soon after your injuries, but it’s highly unlikely that accepting this settlement offer will be in your best interest. The insurance company’s goal is to continue to make a profit. They’re not concerned about whether you’ll be able to meet your accident-related expenses.
Although you’re not legally required to have a lawyer to settle a personal injury claim, having experienced representation ensures that you receive a settlement in line with what your case is truly worth. Your attorney can help assess the value of your case, line up evidence to support your claim, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Myth #5: You can’t afford a lawyer
It’s understandable to be concerned about your finances if your injuries have resulted in significant medical expenses and left you unable to work. However, personal injury lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means your lawyer will accept a percentage of your final settlement as the fee for his services.
The contingency fee arrangement serves two important benefits. First, there is no risk to you. You won’t have to pay any money upfront and you won’t be required to pay if you’re unable to reach a settlement. Second, knowing that your lawyer’s compensation is tied to the size of your final settlement provides reassurance that he’s advocating for your best interests and trying to maximize your available compensation throughout the process.
If you’ve recently been injured due to another driver’s negligence, contact the experienced legal team at Rechtman & Spevak to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.