If you’ve suffered a permanent or catastrophic personal injury, you may be overwhelmed by the prospect of what to do next. Not only are you trying to recover both emotionally and physically from the event that caused your injuries, but you’re also navigating payments for medical care. If your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you also may be wondering if you should consider bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party.
If you’ve never dealt with a personal injury case before, you probably have a lot of questions. You may have heard rumors or anecdotes about the process, but it’s probably true that not everything you’ve heard is accurate. Let’s explore a few of the common myths and misconceptions people have about personal injury cases.
- Insurance won’t pay out more than their initial offer
For the purposes of this myth, we are going to assume that your injuries are the result of an automobile crash that you were not at fault. Post-accident, one of the first things you’ll likely do is file a claim. Depending on your policy, they’ll offer a number that may seem a little lower than you were hoping for. But if that’s their offer, there’s nothing more you can do, right?
Unfortunately, it’s extremely common for insurance adjusters to try and pay out the least amount possible and hope the accident victim will take the check and move on. Though there is never any guarantee that an insurance company will offer more than their initial offer, under normal circumstances typical negotiation will happen. However, hiring a proven, knowledgeable personal injury attorney increases the probability of a higher payout.
- You can easily represent yourself instead of hiring a lawyer
If you’re worried about lawyer fees or finding someone you trust to represent you, you may wonder if you can represent yourself. It’s certainly possible to represent yourself, but there are so many advantages to hiring a lawyer that we don’t recommend going it alone.
Personal injury cases with dedicated, professional lawyers succeed far more often than those without them. A trusted attorney can help expedite your case, negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company, and represent you in court better, thereby possibly obtaining a better recovery on your behalf. There’s no need to represent yourself when your time is better focused on recovering from your injuries.
- You can file a lawsuit whenever you feel ready
Because you’re likely feeling overwhelmed by the injuries you or your loved one has sustained, and everything that now has to be done because of your accident, you might be tempted to wait until you have recovered from your injuries, or your life calms down a little to start thinking about bringing a lawsuit to the negligent party. After all, the situation won’t have changed just because some time passed.
Every state has a time limit to file a lawsuit called a statute of limitations. In Oklahoma, you only have up to two years to file a lawsuit for a personal injury claim. In some instances, this limitation period may be as short as one (1) year. This may seem like a long time, but recovery can be a drawn-out process. It’s also important to keep in mind that once you hire a law firm, it takes time for the law firm to gather all the evidence and records that are necessary to start investigating and prosecuting your case. It’s important to contact an experienced law firm for a free consultation as soon after your accident as possible.
- You’ll definitely have to go to court for your personal injury case
Bringing a lawsuit against a negligent party means going to court right? How else would the case resolve? This is a major misconception. If your case does go to trial, there’s a good chance you’ll have to appear in court. However, this is highly unlikely. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that only 4% of personal injury cases go to trial. The vast majority of these cases are settled before going to court. It’s often in the best interest of the negligent party to reach an agreement, and if this happens, it will save you a lot of stress and time.
- You might ruin someone’s life by suing them
There’s somewhat of a stigma surrounding personal injury claims. You might have ethical concerns with bringing a lawsuit against someone responsible for your accident, wondering if you’re being greedy or if you are destroying someone else financially.
The reality is that getting injured is expensive. The cost of hospital bills, medication, and rehabilitation like physical therapy is a hefty financial burden. You have to look out for your needs first because you might be financially devastated otherwise. It’s also important to keep in mind that it likely won’t be a personal payout, even if you’re suing an individual. Most of the time, someone’s insurance will cover the recovery if you are successful in your suit.
- Personal injury lawsuits take an extremely long time
Many people envision bringing a lawsuit as being a very long and drawn-out situation. It is true that the courts tend to be backlogged, and it does take time to gather all of the medical records and the evidence that is needed to move a matter forward. Many times the length of time it takes to resolve a matter is directly related to the number of defendants involved, how complex the matter is, and how seriously you or your loved one has been injured. An experienced, knowledgeable law firm is your best bet to try to resolve your personal injury legal action as quickly as possible. The truth is that there are a lot of moving parts in any lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is filed, you have to try to coordinate schedules with opposing counsel, the expert witnesses, the lay witnesses, and the Judge’s court docket.
- Personal injury lawsuits will only cover physical injuries
When you think of what a personal injury settlement will cover, your mind might immediately go to medical bills. This makes sense, especially since healthcare costs can be astronomically high, especially for severe injuries. But they are far from the only accident-related costs that can be covered.
Depending on the nature of your accident, you may also be entitled to compensation for lost wages during your medical treatment and rehabilitation, emotional distress, punitive damages, and pain and suffering.
Maples, Nix, and Diesselhorst will stand with you
If you’ve been permanently or catastrophically injured in an accident due to somebody else’s negligence, you’re probably trying to decide how to proceed. We know this is an incredibly difficult time for you. It might be tempting to try and take on a personal injury lawsuit on your own, but hiring an expert team of personal injury lawyers will greatly improve your chances of a positive outcome and give you the space you need to heal.
If you think you may have a case, please contact the office of Maples, Nix, and Diesselhorst for a free consultation. If we decide we are able to work together, we promise to work hard to pursue a positive outcome for you and your family.