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Unfortunately, many people never seek the help of a personal injury attorney following a car accident, stopping them from getting both fair representation and potentially the settlement they’re entitled to. This is often due to misconceptions about their accidents or the process of a personal injury case, many of which are promulgated by the insurance industry in the hopes you will not seek legal help following a collision. Kenneth Hancock of Hancock Law, a personal injury firm in DeSoto County, debunks the most popular myths, explaining why these misconceptions exist.
Myth #1: Lawsuits are easy money.
This is the most common myth about lawsuits. Most believe that there is no risk in pursuing a lawsuit, especially in a motor vehicle collision. Kenneth always cautions his clients that nothing could be further from the truth.
Among many factors that make car accidents challenging, you actually have to be significantly hurt. Simply being in an accident is not enough to have a case. These are things you will discuss in your first meeting with your personal injury attorney.
Should you consider filing suit as your case progresses, Kenneth will guide you through the risk assessment meeting. This meeting is hugely important to ensuring our clients understand the major factors at play if you file suit: time, money, and risk. Reaching a resolution after filing a lawsuit takes a long time and it is very costly. It is also possible to win your case only to find yourself paying the other side’s attorney’s fees and costs.
Myth #2: Lawsuits are frivolous.
To say that a claim is frivolous is to say that it lacks merit. Many consider lawsuits to be an indulgence or a privilege to pursue. Insurance companies and the law firms they hire to defend cases basically think every injury case is frivolous. However, there are safeguards in our court system to ensure that claims without merit never get to the jury. There are safeguards to those safeguards in our appellate court system. Ultimately, a jury of 6 strangers must agree unanimously after reviewing all of the evidence presented that your case has merit. Contrary to what you see on TV or in the media, it is very hard to pull the wool over the eyes of juries.
“Accidents and injuries don’t care if you’re single, married, rich, poor, young, old, working, retired, conservative, or liberal,” Kenneth stated. “When it happens to you or someone you love, it will become the most important case in the world.”
Myth #3: “It’s only a fender bender.”
Similar to the last myth, this one implies that your case isn’t worth pursuing or has no merit. Car insurance companies may claim that your “low impact” collision did not or could not cause severe accident-related injuries. They even have categories for these: low-impact soft tissue (LIST) or minimal impact soft tissue (MIST).
Do not let yourself or others — especially car insurance companies — gaslight you. A car accident of any magnitude can rattle you and cause real injuries, EVEN IF the property damage appears minimal.
It is always worth contacting a personal injury attorney. In Hancock Law’s case, we represent clients on a contingency fee basis, which means we charge clients nothing upfront.
Myth #4: Bad injuries mean significant recoveries.
Again, there is no guarantee about the size of your potential settlement, or even that you will have a recovery in the first place. It all comes down to insurance. If the person who causes the accident has no liability coverage, then there may not be a recovery (unless they have assets to pursue, which is highly unlikely). On top of that, if you do not have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage under your policy then there is nothing left to go after. It does not matter how badly you are hurt. Unfortunately, there is no way to know what coverage anyone else has, so Kenneth always advises his clients to invest in UM coverage. It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Myth #5: It looks good on TV.
Kenneth is always surprised at how many people put stock in the truth of what they see on TV, at least when it comes to law. Most of those TV shows concern criminal law. Regardless, it NEVER happens as it does on TV where cases are distilled down to a 45-minute episode. In reality, a case takes anywhere from a few months to a few years to reach a resolution. The lifecycle of a case comes with many stages, starting with pre-suit all the way through discovery, depositions, and more.
And the trials…don’t get us started. They will often showcase a plot-twist moment, where opposing counsel dramatically reveals a new piece of evidence of which the other side was unaware. This never happens.
“There are no surprises at trial. By the time we’re in front of a jury, all parties have reviewed the evidence exhibits, know exactly what they’re presenting at trial, and exactly what witnesses will take the stand. It’s just about explaining it all to the jury,” Kenneth explained.
It’s important to know that, unlike TV representations, a vast majority of the work your personal injury attorney and their team will do for you happens outside of the courtroom.
If you need help weighing your options following an accident, contact us. No matter how big or how small your case may be, Hancock Law can help you to receive the settlement you deserve.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information provided in this blog is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and legal advice cannot be provided by Hancock Law unless/until we meet to discuss the particulars of your case. Whether an attorney-client relationship exists can differ on a case-by-case basis, but at Hancock Law we consider such a relationship to exist only upon a potential client’s request and our agreement to accept that representation.