Personal injury law is often complex and maybe a little confusing to anyone other than practicing attorneys and other legal professionals. With that complexity comes plenty of misconceptions about the legal process in those cases. Here are some of the more common myths:
Myth: You have to go to court to be compensated.
In fact, most personal injury cases don’t even end up in court. Litigation is often avoided with all parties involved settling before a trial is necessary. The reason for this is it’s more cost effective and efficient to come to an agreement beforehand.
Myth: The at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay medical bills immediately.
In most cases, even if the other driver is at fault, they will not pay anything until a final settlement is reached. That’s because they are not legally bound to do so until a judgment against the driver is entered by the court.
If you are offered money early from the insurance company, make sure it doesn’t come with strings attached. If you’re not careful, you could sign away money you deserve.
Myth: You are suing the insurance company.
One of the bigger misconceptions in law is that when you bring about a personal injury case, you are suing an insurance company. They aren’t the negligent party, you are suing the other driver.
On a related note, it is forbidden to tell the jury at trial whether an insurance company is involved. So, the jury has to come to their decision on a verdict without knowing whether the damages are paid by the defendant or an insurance company.
Myth: The number of lawsuits is out of control.
While the American people have been saddled with the label of being a sue-happy society, the number of personal injury cases has actually been in decline. According to the National Center for State Courts, tort cases have dropped by 25 percent from 1999 to 2008. And from 2007 to 2008, the number of tort filings in state courts decreased by six percent.
Myth: Lawsuits are sending insurance rates through the roof.
Sure, insurance rates may be rising in some cases, but don’t blame litigation. In fact, the insurance industry is racking up record profits. In 2007, the insurance industry reported $61.9 billion in profits, up from $38.7 billion in 2004.
Myth: Health care costs continue to rise because of medical malpractice.
The rise in health care costs is due to a complex mix of issues, the least of which is litigation. According to the Congressional Budget Office, medical malpractice accounts for under two percent of health care spending.
Myths persist, partly due to the complexity of the legal system, but also due to a concerted effort by some to paint trial attorneys as a destructive force rather than what most of us are really doing: standing up for the rights of individuals, often facing tough odds against powerful corporations.