1. I will have to go to court to recover any damages.
It is reported that only 4-5% of all personal injury claims made in the US actually go to court. The insurance company handling your claim likely has 2 goals: 1. To minimize cost, and 2. To manage risk. The insurer will normally try to resolve the claim before it makes it to court. The majority of claims settle pre-suit, with the help of any attorney. An attorney will help you navigate the system, and obtain a reasonable settlement. If the insurance company is refusing to pay a fair settlement for your injuries, then filing a lawsuit may be necessary as a last resort. Even in the cases where the filing of suit is necessary, the vast majority of cases settle.
2. I don’t have the money to hire an attorney.
Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. Therefore, they receive no payment unless you recover damages for your injury. In a contingent fee agreement, the lawyer accepts a fixed percentage of the settlement amount.
3. I don’t want people to think I’m greedy.
Personal injury claims often get a bad rap, that the individual who files a personal injury claim is out for themselves. However, injuries don’t just cause physical pain; injuries may be extremely difficult to recover from financially. We have handled cases for thousands of injured individuals whose lives were changed due to serious injury. In many cases, the individuals were unable to return to work. Often times, these individuals are in extreme pain, and can no longer partake in activities that once brought joy. These people are not demonstrating greed by presenting a claim; they are simply trying to recover compensation for damages incurred by them, for events that were outside of their control. A friend who recently underwent surgery for an injury to his foot indicated, during recuperation, that he had new sympathy for people struggling with physical issues.
4. I will bankrupt the guilty party.
Typically, settlements are paid by profitable insurance companies, as a defendant’s homeowners’ or automobile insurance carrier will pay the claim under liability coverage. If an injured party files an insurance claim against you, the insurance policy will cover the injured person’s losses (up to his or her liability limits), which include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. For example, if an individual has $300,000 worth of coverage under his or her liability insurance, the insurance company will pay up to that amount for any injuries sustained. Umbrella policies may provide additional coverage.
5. It will take years to receive any money.
There is no “typical” timeline when it comes to a personal injury case. However, here are a few guidelines as to how the process may unfold:
If you’ve retained an attorney you’ll work with him or her to outline the details of your case. The defendant will be notified that you intend to file a claim, and asked to contact his or her insurance carrier. Discussions will be held with the carrier. After medical treatment has completed or plateaued, medical records will be secured. A settlement packet is then forwarded to the insurance carrier. Once the insurance adjuster reviews the packet, settlement discussions are held.
If a settlement cannot be achieved, the suit is filed. The plaintiff will be served with the suit, and his or her attorney will respond to the allegations in the Complaint. The discovery process, or “digging up the facts”, comes next. This process may take 6 months to 1 year. Attempts at settlement, through negotiation, mediation or arbitration, may occur at any time. The vast majority of claims are settled via one of these methods. If an agreement is not achieved, the case will proceed to trial. In a worst-case scenario, the trial will occur 1-2 years after the suit is filed.
6. The insurance company holds all of the power and will never pay.
An attorney with skills and experience, and proficient in negotiation, specifically with insurance companies and personal injury claims, will tip the balance of power. The injured party should not communicate directly with the adverse insurance company. The insurance company’s goal is to settle the case for a low amount. Your attorney will have your best interest in mind and will fight on your behalf.
With more than 100 years of combined legal practice experience, the lawyers of Noel & Bonebrake can help. Scott Bonebrake has handled thousands of personal injury cases involving negligence for both plaintiffs and defendants. Contact the law offices of Noel & Bonebrake today!