Depictions of personal injury attorneys are abundant on TV, in movies, and throughout pop culture. As a result, there’s no shortage of myths and misconceptions regarding how they work.
The following are among the more noteworthy. Myths about personal injury attorneys include:
Myth: Personal injury attorneys are greedy
Are some personal injury lawyers motivated by the desire for wealth? Probably. In any potentially lucrative field, there will be those who want primarily to make money for themselves.
However, many who’ve never worked with or known personal injury attorneys operate under the assumption that this is the case among most of them. For example, they might assume an attorney will lie to a potential client, telling them they have a valid case when they may not simply because they want their business.
In reality, this does not happen often. That’s because most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.
When a personal injury attorney charges a contingency fee, they accept no payment from their clients unless they recover compensation for them first. Their fee will be a percentage of the compensation they secure.
This means an attorney isn’t going to be inclined to take on cases that are unwinnable. They won’t waste their valuable time on a case that won’t result in their client receiving compensation, because they only get paid if their client gets paid. Additionally, because their fee is a percentage of the compensation they recover for their client, they’re motivated to fight for the maximum amount of compensation a client may be entitled to.
Myth: Personal injury attorneys force at-fault parties to pay out-of-pocket
It’s important that victims receive compensation for their losses when they’re injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. However, sometimes they’re hesitant to file claims or lawsuits against at-fault parties because they fear the negligent party will have to pay them directly. A victim may have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, but they still might be reluctant to ruin someone financially.
This is an understandable fear. That said, it’s an unfounded one. In most instances, when a claim is settled or damages are awarded, it’s actually the at-fault party’s insurer who pays.
Myth: Personal injury attorneys allow people to file frivolous lawsuits
Many of us have heard stories of “frivolous lawsuits,” in which claimants or plaintiffs, with the help of their personal injury attorneys, receive compensation for injuries or losses that have been exaggerated or that were the result of their own negligence. For example, some people actually believe that a claimant received compensation after breaking into a family’s home because he ended up stuck inside without food for days.
That’s an urban myth. In fact, the vast majority of stories surrounding frivolous lawsuits are simply false. At best, they’re distortions.
They often spread because insurance companies don’t want to compensate claimants if it’s possible to avoid doing so. Thus, they spread stories of frivolous lawsuits via media outlets that don’t fact-check. These stories become widely-believed myths.
Again, thanks to contingency fees, attorneys must be careful when deciding whether to represent clients. Wasting time and resources on cases with little chance of success could be disastrous for a firm. That means personal injury lawyers aren’t incentivized to promote frivolous lawsuits. Quite the opposite, in fact.
None of this is meant to criticize those who genuinely believe some of these misconceptions. Once more, pop culture has spread them thoroughly. However, it’s important to understand that personal injury attorneys actually play an important role in society. They ensure that when negligent parties allow victims to be injured or killed, victims receive proper compensation, and negligent parties are held accountable. This protects all of us. When a negligent party’s insurer is forced to pay their victim, said party is far less likely to be negligent in the future.