Over the years, we at Van Sant Law have talked to thousands of people about their personal injury claims. Many are reluctant to get involved in the legal system. They are not taking advantage of their legal rights and are walking away from compensation for injuries they are entitled to under the law. Others who want to file claims simply don’t understand the reality of the legal system and how it works.
Let's debunk some common personal injury myths to help you make a more informed decision about your case.
1. The person at fault will have to pay.
This is almost never the case. The person who caused the injury (for example the at-fault driver in a car wreck) in nearly every case will have some kind of insurance (possibly multiple policies) that will pay for your claim. Even if a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will hire lawyers to defend the claim and they will ultimately pay any judgment that is rendered. It’s very rare that the individual at fault actually ends up paying any money.
The reason a lot of people believe this myth is because the insurance companies have spent billions of dollars to make sure the law is such that personal injury lawyers cannot let the jury know that insurance will be paying the claim. We cannot even mention the word “insurance” during a trial or else the judge will declare a mistrial.
Even if we wanted to pursue the individual, the reality is that few uninsured or underinsured individuals have the resources to make suing them worthwhile. Even if a party has multiple assets, it takes much time and extensive effort to actually get access to those assets. In addition, there is a real possibility that the plaintiff may declare bankruptcy to avoid fully paying a judgment.
Suing a party that lacks insurance, as a practical matter, is normally a waste of time. However, if the owner of the Atlanta Falcons was involved in a wreck and only had $25,000.00 in insurance, that would not prevent us from pursuing him individually in a serious injury claim because he clearly has assets to satisfy any judgment. The bottom line is that in all likelihood, your compensation will not come out of the pockets of the defendant, but will come out of the pockets of his or her insurance carrier.
2. Insurance companies are on your side.
Despite marketing effort to the contrary – this is a myth! Insurance companies are on their own side, definitely not on the side of a third party making a claim against them. They may also not be on the side of their own policyholders. If you’re the victim of an accident and contacted by an insurance company, their employee may sound helpful, but that person is only trying to help the company.
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights and advocate strongly for fair compensation. Going at it alone and trying to negotiate with an insurance company after an accident could be a big mistake.
What Is an Insurance Company?
First, understand with whom you are dealing. Insurance is a multi-billion dollar industry. Despite the advertising, their goal is not for the public good, but to make money. Like all businesses, insurance companies have revenue and costs. To make the most profit, they try to collect the most revenue and limit their costs.
- Their revenue comes from policy premiums that are used to cover costs and to make investments. If the investments are smart ones, the income generated from them creates more revenue.
- Costs include the overhead of their operations and paying claims. The more claims they pay, the higher their costs, and the lower their profitability. Therefore, there’s an incentive to decrease the number of claims paid and the amount paid in each claim.
Why Shouldn’t I Try to Work With an Insurance Company?
(Remember, the insurance company’s interests are directly opposite of yours.)
- You should receive fair and reasonable compensation for all your accident-related injuries.
- The insurance company wants to make you go away as quickly and cheaply as possible.
- Your rights and interests are the last things with which an insurance company is concerned.
Personal injury and insurance law are complex.
- Those of us working in these fields full time for years often learn something new.
- If you lack expertise in these areas, it’s easy for a smooth-talking insurance adjuster to take advantage of your ignorance and make a very bad settlement sound very appealing.
Your loose lips could sink your ship of legal claims and your chance for fair compensation.
- If you don’t know the law or what kinds of evidence could potentially be used at trial, in the course of conversation or while filling out forms, you may reveal information very damaging to your case, or omit information beneficial to you, without realizing it.
- You may sign a general release and give up rights you didn’t know you had or fully appreciate. Doing so will end your chances of pursuing legal action.
When individuals who work for insurance companies are handling your claim their goal is to avoid or limit the insurance company’s financial exposure to your legal claims. They are not there to help you get the most compensation possible or to protect your legal rights.
3. Insurance companies will pay your expenses.
When you are the victim in a car accident, it is upsetting enough to deal with the wreck – the emotional impact, the damages to your car, and the medical issues you must now face. However, there is a supposed “safety” in knowing that the negligent driver’s insurance company will step up to the plate and cover the damages. Sadly, the truth is that insurance companies will try every trick in the book to keep you from getting as little compensation as possible. This is true even when their client is at fault. People are surprised when they learn that they will not be compensated for the injuries sustained by a negligent driver. Insurance companies simply do not want to pay out when it is their turn.
Here is a recent example of a correspondence between Mr. Van Sant and a well-known insurance company:
(CLICK ON THE LETTERS ABOVE TO ENLARGE THEM)
As you can see, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney such as David Van Sant when you are faced with an insurance company that will not budge. Mr. Van Sant is not afraid of the adjusters and he understands the language and tactics that they use. In addition, he will fight for you to make sure that you are not cheated out of what is rightfully yours. Contact today to get help when the insurance company will not work with you.
4. Spill a cup of coffee, make a million bucks!
Some people think that if you file a personal injury claim you will get rich. This is a myth! If you have ever been injured or know anyone that has gone through this process, you know this is a myth. Over the years we have been able to obtain for our clients, either through verdicts or negotiated settlements, millions of dollars. For you to collect a substantial amount of money, you need to suffer substantial, lifelong, serious injuries and long-term financial harm. In most cases, the money that you may collect in such a situation is not worth the physical, psychological, and emotional damage suffered. A successful personal injury claim will fairly compensate you for the damages that you’ve suffered, which in all likelihood will not make you rich.
By the way, would you be surprised if I told you that the lady burned by the McDonalds coffee did not “win” a million dollars? Instead, the verdict was reduced by the judge to a much lower amount. Unfortunately, in the end, after battling a giant corporation like McDonalds she did not end up with enough money to cover all her expenses and medical needs. I would encourage you to watch the movie “Hot Coffee” to learn the real story.
5. There are too many frivolous lawsuits.
A lot of people think there are too many frivolous lawsuits. This is a myth that has been imprinted in people’s minds thanks to the billions of dollars insurance companies spend to create this impression. There are people who attempt to defraud insurance companies with false or inflated claims, but they are few in number and they are seldom represented by personal injury lawyers.
As a personal injury lawyer, my firm pays for all the costs and expenses associated with bringing the claim. We are not going to waste our time or money if the claim is frivolous. If we think someone is trying to do this, we will not represent them. In my opinion, 99% of individuals filing personal injury claims do so because they have truly suffered injuries and financial harm. They are exercising their rights to obtain fair compensation from parties who caused those injuries and financial losses. It’s only fair that those who suffer harm through no fault of their own be able to seek justice.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t let myths stand in the way of learning about your rights and discussing your situation with us and possible options for you to seek compensation for your injuries. Contact our office today.