Don’t be dissuaded by some of the persistent myths you may have heard about personal injury claims and lawsuits. Whether these beliefs come from well-meaning loved ones or the powerful insurance lobby, it is important to understand the truth about personal injury settlements so that you can make up your own mind.
Insurance companies often argue that personal injury attorneys file frivolous lawsuits that are nothing more than a waste of time and money. The truth is that judges can dismiss any personal lawsuits they believe are without merit. In addition, lawyers can be sanctioned for filing frivolous lawsuits. Penalties may include court fines and the cost of the defendant’s attorney fees. No attorney wants to risk the embarrassment and cost of such a lawsuit.
You may also have heard that punitive damages from lawsuits increase the cost of doing business, thereby damaging the economy. This myth is partly true. Punitive damages hurt those businesses that hurt consumers. When the cost of doing business increases, competitors who make safer products win. In this way, punitive damages make everyone safer from dangerous products. Without them, there would be no incentive for companies to engage in safer business practices.
The Millionaire Plaintiff
Many people mistakenly believe that those who win punitive damages become instant millionaires. However, several states have enacted legislation to require that a portion of each punitive damage award be used to help other victims who suffer similar injuries.
A number of states have also placed a limit on awards of this type, although such limits create less incentive for companies to put consumer safety ahead of profits. When judges set punitive damage awards, they base the award on the amount of profit the company gained by putting consumers at risk. As long as companies can profit more by selling cheaper, more dangerous products, they will.
Greed and Guilt
There is a public perception, mostly propagated by insurance companies, that those who file personal injury cases are essentially greedy. This is simply not the case. While it is true that a small number of claims are fraudulent, it is unfair to categorize all claims that way. Injuries result in medical bills, stress, frustration, and family strife. It is not fair to expect the injured to bear these burdens alone when the cause lies with someone else. The truth is that insurance companies want people to feel guilty about filing claims so they will not ask for all of the money they may be owed.
If you or anyone close to you has suffered a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, don’t be intimidated by the negative comments of others or the myths spread by insurance companies. Contact our office for a free evaluation of your case. We will help you understand your rights, learn the truth about your case and then let you decide if filing a claim is the right thing to do.