Lawyers end up on the wrong end of a lot of jokes, and personal injury attorneys in particular seem to be a favorite target. The common stereotype is that personal injury lawyers are greedy “ambulance chasers” who race to get to a case first, and are only in it for the money. After 30 years of practicing law, we at Wilson Kehoe Winingham are confident we can debunk all of those dirty myths. Let us break down those misconceptions about our area of expertise to build trust.
1. The Ambulance Chaser
The name of this myth comes from the idea that personal injury attorneys seek out people who have been injured in order to get a case to court. This is a common portrayal on TV and in movies, so it’s not surprising that a lot of people think like this. However, the Indiana Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct changed the rules about getting cases so that attorneys can’t contact accident victims within 30 days of an incident. If they do, they’ll be charged with professional misconduct and could temporarily lose their law license. Therefore, you’re not likely to find an attorney who fits the stereotype of an ambulance chaser.
2. Hiring an Attorney is Too Expensive
When you’re recovering from an accident, you don’t want to think about paying more money, even if it’s to an attorney that’s trying to help. However, most personal injury cases are handled on what’s called a contingency fee basis. This means that the fee and reimbursement for the attorney that helps with your case is coming out of the money from the settlement. You most likely won’t pay anything out-of-pocket for an attorney, and you won’t owe anything unless you win the case. Attorneys could also offer free case evaluations, and they often front court fees and other costs related to your case.
3. My Case Isn’t Big Enough
You might be concerned that it’s not worth taking your case to court if your injury was minor. Depending on your case, however, there could be long-term consequences that might be worth pursuing in court.
You might also think that your insurance company could handle your claim because you don’t want to go through the trouble of getting a lawyer. Truthfully, though, most lawyers genuinely want justice for their clients. While you might not think your case is a big deal, each case that our personal injury lawyers see is a big deal, and we want every deserving victim to reach a settlement.
4. I’m Being Greedy, Aren’t I?
No matter what your insurance company tells you, and no matter what anyone else tells you, you have the right to recover from your injury. Personal injury lawsuits are about making amends for a bad and often life-changing situation. Most personal injury cases are real and fair: People get injured by products, in their workplaces, and in doctor’s offices. Punitive damages, which are probably the biggest cause of the greed myth, aren’t even a factor in a lot of personal injury cases.
5. I’ll have to Appear in Court, and I Don’t Want to
No one wants to go to court if they can help it. We understand that, and we think you’ll be pleased to know that your case might never get to a courtroom. Most personal injury claims can, and often are, settled without anyone ever going to court. The defendants probably don’t want to risk legal fees, bad publicity, and other expenses, and who can blame them? Ending up in court is generally a last resort if a fair agreement can’t be reached otherwise. Rest assured that if you do end up in court, your attorney is there to help and support you every step of the way.
6. Personal Injury Lawsuits are Frivolous, and Lawyers are Just Trying to Get Rich
This goes hand-in-hand with the myth of greed. There are a couple of reasons why this is a myth and not fact-based.
- Not every injury can result in a personal injury case, and attorneys are familiar with the laws and know that. What’s more, though, is that going to court is expensive financially and emotionally. Lawyers spend countless hours working on cases and often pay the cost for things like hiring expert testimony and getting paperwork in order.
- The bulk of attorneys’ work is on a contingency basis and don’t get paid unless the lawsuit is successful. Why take on a case that has next to no chance of settling or winning when it would be a waste of money? Even if you find an amoral attorney that’s only in it for the money, there’s no incentive to file frivolous lawsuits.
Finally, personal injury cases aren’t about making the attorney money. Attorneys get reimbursed and their fee comes out of the settlement, but the rest goes to the plaintiff. Damages from personal injury cases are put toward medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other life-altering damages. No amount of money can reverse the damage that was done, but it can help get someone’s life as close to normal as possible. To us, that sounds like a noble goal—not a waste of time.
Do you need to talk to a personal injury law firm about your case? Let WKW help you change your mind about these misconceptions and help you through Indiana’s personal injury laws. Our personal injury lawyers are always available, and you have absolutely no obligation attached to a case review. To reach out, call 317.920.6400 or fill out our convenient online contact form below.
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