10 Common Misconceptions About Personal Injury Claims

April 7, 2017 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
10 Common Misconceptions About Personal Injury Claims

Misconception 1: I have insurance, so I don't need an attorney. It is important to remember that insurance companies are running a for-profit business. An initial offer from the insurance company to settle your claim will almost always be less than the full amount of your coverage and may not be enough to cover your medical bills and other expenses. The insurance company employs well-trained, expert claim adjusters, investigators, and attorneys.

Not only is attempting to negotiate with the insurance company on your own a bad idea, but statements you make to them could potentially be used against you and harm your claim. It is in your best interest to hire an experienced personal injury attorney—one who is working for you—to evaluate your claim and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Personal injury claims can be complex and tricky, so having someone who has handled thousands of cases can be extremely beneficial.

Just having insurance is not enough to guarantee that your injuries will be paid for in full. An experienced personal injury attorney will take into account current medical bills, current and future lost wages, potential non-facility medical costs, and the prospect of future treatments in case more problems crop up.

Misconception 2: I can just wait and hire an attorney later, if I need one. Delaying the hiring of representation has the potential to seriously harm your claim. The sooner you obtain an attorney, the stronger the case they can build for you. Waiting to hire a personal injury attorney means that the evidence necessary to assist in your claim may be gone forever, seriously limiting your claim's reach. Additionally, a personal injury lawsuit must comply with the applicable statute of limitations (which means that some cases have a time limit).

In Florida, most personal injury claims must be filed within 4 years of the incident from which any injuries arose. Also, you should know that if you accept any insurance money or any other offer from the insurance company, you forfeit your right to file a lawsuit in the future. What may seem like a lot of money now may not even begin to cover the expenses you may come across later.  

Perhaps the offer is more than enough to cover your current medical bills and lost wages; but later, you find that you have nerve damage in your hand, requiring two surgeries and a month off work. One can only imagine how much more this theoretical incident will cost. If you already accepted a settlement on your own, the insurance company will not give you another dime. Having an experienced attorney on your side, who has seen how thousands of cases and personal situations have played out, can be a great asset in known what your case is worth.

Misconception 3: Hiring a lawyer is too expensive. You may think that you cannot afford to hire an attorney; in fact, it's more likely that you can't afford to not hire an attorney. This logic may seem backward, but if you think about it, not hiring an attorney could cost you big when it comes to opportunity cost. If you don't remember that term from high school economics, it refers to the cost of what you could have had versus what you do have.

If you take a $3,000 settlement when an attorney could have gotten you $30,000, you are definitely losing out. After an injury, you are already dealing with medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other expenses like property damage; don't deal with missed opportunities for more money, too.

The personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, offer a free consultation for new clients. So if you're unsure about the process of hiring an attorney or if you are unsure if your case is even worth it, come in for a consultation. Once here, you can ask whatever questions you like and hear an attorney's opinion about your case. There's no obligation of any kind. Furthermore, our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the client pays nothing unless we obtain a settlement or verdict in their favor. If we don't recover for you, you are not responsible for any costs or fees.

Misconception 4: I don't want to sue anyone. It feels wrong. Pursuing a claim or lawsuit is not only right, it is your right. The legal process of filing a lawsuit was created and exists to protect people who have been wrongfully injured. Also, realize that the money recovered doesn't come out of another individual's pocket—so you're not taking food from their kids' mouths or the clothes off their backs.

The money you receive comes from a multi-billion dollar insurance company, for which the responsible person pays monthly premiums for exactly this type of situation. Some people are concerned about making an insurance company pay for their injuries for one reason or another. But that is exactly what they are there for.

Think of it as a savings account that you pay into just in case something goes wrong in the future, and now the time has come for you, or the person at fault, to collect. When you sue a negligent driver, their name goes on the lawsuit. This is just the way it is. But in reality, you are suing State Farm, or Geico, or some other conglomerate. If this still bothers you, take solace in knowing that 90% of injury claims are settled through negotiation before the case is ever filed with the court.

Misconception 5: People who file personal injury lawsuits are just greedy. This is a popular misconception that is perpetuated by insurance companies in order to make plaintiffs feel guilty about pursuing the money they are rightfully owed. Do not allow big corporations to make you feel this way. They are probably the ones being greedy, after all.

Another related misconception is that people who file personal injury claims are filing frivolous lawsuits. This is not the case either. Most people who file personal injury cases have been in legitimate accidents or sustained real injuries from the negligence of someone else. In almost all cases, the person filing the suit is an honest person who is just trying to collect what is owed to them for expenses and damages so that the negligence of another does not end up financially ruining them or their family.

Need proof that insurance companies are spreading lies in order to promote the idea of a litigious society? Read this article about the famous McDonald's Hot Coffee Lawsuit. In it, you'll find that almost everything you have ever heard about that case is a lie. The insurance companies bullied an elderly lady and spread misinformation in order to save themselves and their billionaire clients a minor amount of money. It happens all the time.

Misconception 6: It will take forever to resolve my case. It is true that filing a claim will take time and effort. But that is why you hire an attorney. You should worry about recovery while your lawyer worries about getting you the compensation you deserve. The length of time it will take to resolve a case largely depends on how complex it is, but many cases settle before a lawsuit is ever filed.

Most insurance companies do not want to go to court because it is expensive and consumes time and resources. They usually understand that they should be paying out a legitimate amount, but as stated early, they are a for-profit business so they try to get away with paying less early on.

Misconception 7: My divorce, family, or estate lawyer can handle my personal injury case. Lawyers are much like doctors in that they generally have a focused area of practice. Just as you wouldn't ask your general physician to perform heart surgery on you, you shouldn't trust an attorney who isn't focused on personal injury law to handle your injury claim.

Not all people are experts at all things. Just because someone went to law school doesn't mean they understand the details and nuances of every area of law. People work in an industry and gain experience they use to guide them; we all do. Yes, any attorney can write a strongly worded letter with legal jargon, but knowing how to successfully negotiate and litigate an injury case is completely different.

At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we have spent thousands of hours researching and trying thousands of personal injury cases. Let our experienced attorneys, who are dedicated to handling personal injury claims, help you. Each of our seven attorneys has experience dealing with insurance companies, negotiating through mediation, and litigating in court. We have assembled a dream team. And while all our attorneys are practiced professionals, they are also accessible. It is out goal to ensure that each of our attorneys is accessible through phone or email.

Misconception 8: If I hold out, I will get a bigger settlement. This is definitely not always the case. Though it may be true that this is the right plan of action for some cases, it doesn't hold true for all situations. Sometimes, all it takes is having a knowledgeable attorney on your side who understands the process of getting you the settlement you deserve.

Once insurance companies see that you have retained an attorney, they understand that you mean business and immediately pay up the compensation the case deserves. Sometimes, all it may take is filing the correct paperwork at the right time to the right people. Personal injury cases work like any other negotiation.

The insurance company goes low, and the attorney goes high until they meet in the middle. If you hold out for too long, you could annoy the carrier who may just continue to avoid settling just to be difficult. If you take a settlement too quickly, you may risk leaving some money on the table. It's a delicate balance. That's why hiring an experienced attorney is key.

Misconception 9: My case has to be settled before I can receive medical treatment. This is definitely not the case. You don't have to wait for your case to be settled before you can begin receiving medical treatment. You need, and very much deserve, medical treatment right away. In fact, your medical evaluation will reveal the scope and extent of all your injuries.

Prior to a proper evaluation, you may think that you only have one injury, when in fact there are multiple injuries that will cause you pain and complications later. Your medical bills and records can help your attorney make a better case and determine the level of compensation you need now and in the future. Understandably, how you will pay for medical care before you have received your money from the insurer is a concern. However, many doctors will work with you while your claim is pending.

There are also other options to get temporary funding to pay medical bills until your claim is resolved. For example, it is common to use your own medical insurance to cover the bills until your claim is settled. Once it is, you will pay back your healthcare provider with your settlement. Additionally, Medicare and Medicaid can be used to help cover the costs. The point is there are lots of options and we will walk you through each of them every step of the way.

Misconception 10: I'll just handle it myself to save the headache. You could handle your case directly with your insurance provider. In fact, they'd love for you to do that because it will save the carrier money. Personal injury cases can be complicated and use jargon and laws that most people don't understand. You don't want to be the only person in the room or on the phone who doesn't know what is going on in your own case. Hiring an attorney who not only can get you a bigger settlement but also handle the case for you is a win-win.

If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another and need compensation for your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and all the other looming costs, call an experienced attorney. At the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we have multiple experienced attorneys who will handle your case directly. Don't allow the insurance company to give you less than you need and deserve. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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