What You Should Know About Personal Injury Lawsuits
You must retain Personal Injury Lawsuits are a complex field of law requiring the support that only an experienced personal injury law firm can provide. A personal injury attorney should be your first call if you have been involved in any kind of accident in which you sustained injuries.
Here are ten things you should know about personal injury lawsuits in 2020:
1. The Insurance Company Is Not On Your Side
Do not be surprised if you receive a phone call from your insurance company and the insurance company for the offending vehicle. Your insurance company wants to limit how much money they pay for your medical treatment and the offending vehicle’s insurance carrier wants any statement that will mitigate against their client’s liability. This illustrates exactly why a personal injury law firm should be your first call after you have an accident.
2. Hiring an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer is Beneficial
Your selection of the appropriate attorney will determine the success or failure of your case. You must retain an attorney with experience handling personal injury lawsuits and cases from inception through trial. It is wise to consult with a few attorneys before selecting one to represent you. However, at the end of the day, attorneys who have handled matters up to and through trial are battle-tested, experienced litigators who possess the know-how and spirit that is required to remain motivated from day one through the final settlement or verdict.
3. Insurance Company Settlement Offers Are Never Fair
Insurance companies are businesses and many of their offers to “settle” are simply low-ball, “token” tactical offers designed to frustrate an injured person (also known as the plaintiff, if a lawsuit is filed). This “war of attrition” sometimes works where a plaintiff will accept less than what they are due after the case has been protracted over several months or years. This is where the personal injury attorney is vital to the matter, encouraging the plaintiff to stay the course.
An essential element to winning your case is evidence – it will be the key to winning or losing your case. In slip and fall cases, footwear, witnesses, photographs of the condition that caused your fall and proof that the condition existed for a sufficient time to constitute notice to the landowner are indispensable elements to a winning case. As for motor vehicle accidents, photographs of the scene of the accident, damage to the vehicle (both inside and out), skid marks on the road, witnesses and point of impact of the vehicles all come into play from the outset of the case. Any evidence you have should be turned over to your attorney immediately since it can be used to build your case.
5. Time is extremely important
Every element of a personal injury case relates to timing. If a plaintiff does not go to the emergency room straight from the accident or stops their medical treatment for any time (“gap in treatment”), it is used against a plaintiff. In Florida, if you are involved in an accident on municipal property or in a crash with a vehicle that is owned by a municipality, you must file a Notice of Claim within three years or you are forever barred from doing so. There is also a four-year statute of limitations for all negligent matters, within which a plaintiff must file a personal injury lawsuit or be forever barred from doing so. These are only two of many time-sensitive deadlines that only further illustrate the need for an experienced personal injury attorney to handle such matters.
6. Every Claim is Different
No two personal injury lawsuits are the same. Often, a plaintiff will say “my friend got into an accident and got $100,000 why am I only getting $10,000?”. There are many potential answers to this question. First is the issue of liability, rear-end collision cases are typically the fault of the offending vehicle whereas other motor vehicle accident cases are not so clear cut. Furthermore, the amount of a settlement often depends on the amount of insurance coverage that is maintained by the offending vehicle or the landowner on whose property you were injured. Most of all, the value of a person’s claim is usually based on the extent of the associated injuries and medical bills. The greater the injury, the greater the case value.
7. Compensation May Be Complicated
An injured person can be compensated for non-economic damages from personal injuries that cause permanent damage which caused past and will cause future pain and suffering. An injured person can also be compensated for economic damages, like medical bills; however, medical professionals may assert a lien on a client’s case if they have not been paid by the insurance carrier for services rendered. Furthermore, plaintiffs may or may not be compensated for future medical procedures. Plaintiffs often believe that if they are injured in a car accident, they will receive a big settlement. The reality is that the injuries suffered by a plaintiff must be permanent and that must be supported by medical evidence. These are only a few of the factors that may serve to confuse an injured person at the time a settlement is being negotiated or is ultimately reached following a verdict.
8. Your Case May Take a Long Time
The number one tactic employed by insurance carriers is to delay. Insurance carriers are in no rush to settle a case and know the longer a case drags out, the more a plaintiff will wear down and settle their case. This “war of attrition” is employed by design and plaintiffs must fight the insurance carrier to the end without falling prey to fatigue or frustration.
9. You May Need to Go to Court
The personal injury lawyer you retain must be prepared to take your case to trial. Once your case has reached the point where a settlement cannot be agreed upon, the only remedy available to a plaintiff is to file a lawsuit. Once that happens, the case may take several months or even years. Your testimony will be taken, and you may need to appear at trial. This underscores why it is so important to hire an attorney who has trial experience since each case should be prepared as if it is going to trial from day one.
10. Your Medical Records and Private Life Can Be Used as Evidence
Insurance carriers are permitted to hire private investigators to surveil plaintiffs in their personal lives. This can include a plaintiff unloading and carrying groceries from their car and into their home. Insurance companies will try to use this evidence to prove that there are no injuries and limitations claimed in the plaintiff’s case. Social media profiles that show plaintiffs dancing at weddings, traveling on long flights and the like can all be used against a plaintiff who claims to have permanent injuries. If you have had prior injuries of any sort, they may be subject to examination by insurance company lawyers to prove the injuries you claim are pre-existing.
Many of the items above are foreign concepts to plaintiffs in personal injury cases. That is why consulting with and retaining a personal injury attorney from the beginning of your case is an absolute necessity.