Maybe you were injured as the result of another party’s negligence: on the road, at the park, in a store, or anywhere else. Maybe another person intentionally meant to harm you and succeeded. Or maybe the other person meant you no harm – but their dog, unfortunately, did.
These are all times when you could file a personal injury claim. It’s the legal process for acquiring compensation for all the economic and noneconomic damages you suffered as the result of another party’s actions or negligence. If the defendant’s behavior was especially egregious, you may also be awarded additional punitive damages.
The fact that you can be awarded money for winning a personal injury lawsuit is probably not news to you. But because they are portrayed so sensationally in movies and television, you may have a few misunderstandings about how personal injury lawsuits usually play out.
Do you deserve restitution, but are apprehensive about getting wrapped up in a lawsuit? Let us dispel the 10 most common myths about personal injury lawsuits before you decide what to do!
1. Personal injury cases take forever: False
For every 100 personal injury cases filed in the United States, only about four or five actually go to trial. The vast majority of cases end with settlements, which are reached outside of court. If you have a strhttps://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/personal-injury/personal-injury-settlement-amounts/ong case and serious injuries, you may reach a settlement within weeks. Many cases are resolved within 12 months, though some may take several years.
2. Minor injuries never warrant legal action: False
Minor injuries can cost thousands of dollars in medical care. Even so, insurance providers frequently offer inadequate compensation for minor injuries. That’s the kind of wrong personal injury attorneys dedicate their careers to righting.
3. You can’t sue for emotional distress: False
Not all injuries are visible. If you have suffered emotional distress as the result of another’s negligence or intent, you can recover compensation for your anguish. Emotional distress claims aren’t exempt from evidentiary standards, however. You should have medical and other records to back such a claim before filing one.
4. A personal injury claim can financially ruin the defendant: False
In spite of whatever occurred, you may still care deeply for the party responsible for your injury. Fortunately, you will not necessarily make them financially destitute by suing them. For example, if the defendant has homeowners insurance, then their insurance provider can cover medical costs resulting from an accidental injury on their property. Likewise, even a small business owner should have a liability insurance policy.
5. You don’t need a personal injury attorney if you have insurance: False
We hate to break this to you, but insurance companies – even your own – are not on your side. They are publicly traded multi-billion dollar conglomerates. They exist for their shareholders’ benefit, which is why they hope their policyholders will accept low settlements.
A personal injury attorney has a duty to their client to act in their client’s best interest, which compels them to negotiate a fair settlement – and take the case to trial when a fair settlement isn’t forthcoming.
6. All personal injury claims result in full compensation to the plaintiff: False
Personal injury cases can be lost for a variety of reasons. Maybe the plaintiff posted something on social media that conflicted their official claim. Maybe they misrepresented the facts, contributed to the accident that caused their injury, or failed to adhere to civil procedure due to not hiring an attorney. In any of these events, the plaintiff may receive zero compensation for their claim. And even if they are awarded a settlement, it is possible that it will be inadequate to truly compensate them for all of their losses.
7. Holding out guarantees a larger settlement: False
Hard-bargaining tactics aren’t always necessary during negotiations. Holding out for a larger settlement may bear fruit in some occasions, but take care: a fair and immediate settlement is often vastly preferable over going to trial. Even if a preponderance of evidence supports your claim, you are never guaranteed a sympathetic jury or judge at trial.
8. You have multiple chances to receive compensation for an injury: False
Although you can appeal a civil case in the state of Utah, court decisions on personal injury claims are typically final. Furthermore, accepting a settlement from an insurance company constitutes a waiver of your right to pursue additional compensation.
9. You can file a personal injury claim at any time: False
Some crimes do not have a statute of limitation. The government can charge suspects for those crimes decades after they were committed.
The statute of limitations does not give indefinite deadlines to file civil claims, however. For example, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Utah is four years, but some are much shorter. Afterward any suit you file would no longer be legally valid.
10. Personal injury lawsuits are frivolous: False
Personal injury lawsuits are unfairly stigmatized by the media. Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants (“the McDonald’s hot coffee case”) is the perfect example: although the plaintiff in that case was badly injured by the defendant’s negligence, every news pundit and late-night talk show host took turns ridiculing the court’s decision in her favor. A cynic might suspect that the media had an ulterior motive in representing a case involving McDonald’s – a company that spends billions of dollars on advertising.
In truth, some personal injury lawsuits are frivolous. Some are downright dishonest. But you are not joining disreputable company just because you are pursuing your only legal recourse when you have been injured by another party. You are availing yourself of an institution that exists to protect your rights!
If you have been injured in the greater Logan, Utah area or elsewhere in Utah or Southern Idaho, then we welcome you to contact Hillyard, Anderson & Olsen today to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys have provided quality legal representation to our clients throughout Cache Valley and the entire state of Utah for over 50 years.