Debunking Top 5 Misconceptions about Personal Injury Cases

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Most accidents result in minor to catastrophic injuries, affecting how the injured victim lives. Fortunately, they can file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for the damages of the accident.

Despite this, people suffering from accident-related injuries and other damages avoid pursuing personal injury cases or hiring lawyers, thinking this will only complicate things. 

Several other misconceptions about personal injury claims hinder victims from getting fair compensation for their damages. In this article, we debunk these misconceptions to help you understand your legal rights as accident victims.

Top 5 Misconceptions about Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law is a complicated and frequently misunderstood area of law. There are numerous misconceptions regarding personal injury claims, and these myths can cause anxiety, anger, and wasted opportunities for people seeking compensation for injuries caused by accidents or negligence. 

Here are the top 5 personal injury misconceptions we will debunk to shed light on the realities of the legal process, insurance companies, and the outcomes victims might reasonably expect.

Myth 1: Insurance Companies Cover All the Costs.

Most individuals think that insurance companies are there to help cover accident-related expenses, alleviating all monetary concerns attributed to the accident’s damages. However, as opposed to this thinking, most insurance providers only cover the existing damage costs of your accident.

In most cases, they will resolve your claim as quickly as possible to avoid additional expenses. For example, a negligent driver hits you, resulting in a broken leg. The insurance company will provide an initial settlement offer covering your existing medical bills and other injury-related expenses. 

While this may seem attractive, it will hardly cover the entire damage expenses of the crash, such as lost wages, future loss of earning capacity, future treatments, and emotional distress.

You should consider getting a lawyer for the car accident to examine all the damages applicable to your case and maximize your payout. 

What Damages Can I Include in My Settlement?

Remember that you can add other types of damages to your settlement besides medical and property damage expenses. Consider the following losses when calculating your total compensation:

Economic Damages (financial losses) Non-Economic Damages (non-monetary losses)
  • Medical bills
  • Other health-related expenses, such as medical equipment or aid
  • Vehicle repair or replacement costs
  • Lost wages
  • Future loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Loss of companionship or love

Non-economic damages might be difficult to assess since they lack precise monetary values such as bills and invoices. However, a personal injury attorney can evaluate these losses and factor them into your overall payout.

They can also investigate your potential for punitive damages, which is an additional expense. This assessment is conditional on the court determining whether the accountable party's actions were intentionally hurtful or malevolent.

Myth 2: You Can File an Accident Claim Anytime.

Some victims tend to postpone filing a personal injury claim, thinking they may do so whenever they are ready. Contrary to this belief, personal injury claims have statutes of limitations. 

The statute of limitations is the period allowed for an injured victim to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. If you miss the statute of limitations, you may lose your right to reimbursement.

If you are involved in an accident in California, California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1 enforces a strict two-year timeframe for pursuing a claim after an incident. However, specific conditions can affect the commencement of the deadline for filing a claim:

  • If the accident involves property damage, the statute of limitations extends to three years.
  • If the victim dies shortly after the accident, the statute of limitations starts from the date of the individual's death.
  • When pursuing a personal injury claim against a local government entity, you must file your claim within six months.
  • For accident victims who are minors, the statute of limitations begins when they reach 18.
  • The statute of limitations can be paused or extended if the responsible party is out of state, incarcerated, or mentally incapacitated.
  • If the individual responsible for the accident declares bankruptcy, the personal injury case is automatically postponed until the conclusion of the bankruptcy proceedings.

When seeking a personal injury claim, remaining aware of these time constraints is crucial. Adopting a trial-and-error approach in handling your claim is discouraged, as it can consume significant time without fulfilling the necessary legal obligations to secure your case.

Consulting with an experienced injury attorney who profoundly understands the legal processes relevant to your case is essential when deciding the legal avenues to pursue the defense of your claim.

Myth 3: Hiring a Good Lawyer is Expensive.

Unfortunately, most injured victims think hiring a good lawyer will never be inexpensive. However, many personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if you win. With this, many people can now access legal representation.

While most personal injury lawyers can work on a contingency basis, not all can understand the gravity of your situation and can fiercely defend your case.

When seeking the best personal injury attorney, you might wonder about the qualities that set them apart in their field. In general, a reputable lawyer should exhibit the following attributes, mainly when dealing with personal injury claims:

  • Experience and Expertise: An effective attorney must possess a strong foundation in personal injury law and extensive experience with such cases. Their proven history of achieving favorable outcomes for clients in similar circumstances indicates their ability to safeguard your legal rights.
  • Investigative Skills: Top attorneys excel at conducting comprehensive accident investigations. They gather evidence, interview witnesses, and, when necessary, reconstruct the accident scene to establish the facts and build a compelling case.
  • Clear Communication: Effective communicators can simplify intricate legal matters for their clients. They should also be responsive to inquiries and keep clients informed about the progress of their cases.
  • Litigation Experience: Although many cases are resolved through settlements, some may require litigation. A competent lawyer should have experience representing claims in court and be prepared to represent you effectively before a judge and jury if the situation demands it.
  • Empathy and Compassion: Coping with the emotional aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming. The best California personal injury attorneys show genuine empathy and compassion for their clients, guiding them through the legal process with a deep understanding of their circumstances and offering legal options to improve their situation.

It's important to note that determining the best personal injury lawyer in California can depend on your specific circumstances and location. It is crucial to identify and assess an attorney who aligns with your needs and instills confidence in how they will handle your case.

Myth 4: A Personal Injury Claim in California Takes Too Long to Settle.

While some complex cases may take longer, many personal injury cases are settled within a few months. Generally, the length of the case heavily depends on several factors, such as liability, the extent of injuries, and the willingness to settle.

For example, a car accident case resulting in a permanent arm disability may take a longer time to be settled compared to an auto collision with minor property damage. Likewise, if the accident results from the liabilities of both parties, it can be more challenging to prove than an accident caused by one at-fault party with sufficient evidence. 

Moreover, while some personal injury cases in California can be resolved within months, not all speedy legal processes can sometimes benefit the injured victim. 

For instance, if you suffer from a permanent leg injury from a car accident, you may need time to determine future treatments and rehabilitations to help you cope. If you quickly accept an initial settlement offer, you may not consider and include such expenses in your settlement.

This is why it is best to contact a serious car accident lawyer who can examine the facts of your accident, quantify the overall damages, and determine your maximum compensation.

Myth 5: You Can Only File a Claim If You Sustained Severe Injuries.

Most injured victims tend to ask, "Should I file a claim for a minor injury from an accident?" The answer to this question lies in your eagerness to receive fair compensation. While it is true that individuals can choose to settle a minor incident without filing a case, it is still recommended that you file a personal injury claim to avoid receiving less compensation than what you truly deserve.

Sometimes, a minor injury can be a symptom of severe bodily damage. In other instances, even if you don't feel anything from the accident, a late-appearing injury may surface days, weeks, or months after the accident. 

It is best to seek immediate medical attention after an accident to determine the severity or presence of your injuries. This will help you identify the total damages of the incident and seek compensation for each accordingly. 

Similarly, a California personal injury lawyer can assist in understanding the extent of your injuries and determine how much you should be getting based on them. They can also connect you with the appropriate doctors and other health practitioners to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights.

If you ever find yourself needing to file a personal injury claim, being aware of these common myths will help you make wise judgments. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is often the best course of action to navigate the complexities of such cases.

What to Do After an Accident 

If you are involved in an accident, it's crucial to take the following steps to ensure your safety, protect others, and safeguard your legal rights:

  • Stay composed.
  • Immediately dial 911 or contact the nearest police department to report the incident.
  • Check yourself for any injuries resulting from the collision.
  • If you are injured, promptly seek medical assistance.
  • Gather evidence at the accident scene if you can, and it's safe to do so. This includes obtaining the contact details of the other driver, capturing images of the crash, and securing statements from any witnesses present.
  • Cooperate fully with law enforcement officers in their investigation.
  • It is advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney who can assist you in building your auto accident claim.

Proving a Personal Injury Claim

Suppose someone has been injured and believes another person or entity is responsible for their injury due to negligence or wrongful conduct. In that case, they may decide to file a personal injury claim. 

Personal injury claims are a legal recourse that allows injured individuals to seek compensation for their injuries and losses from the party they believe is responsible.

However, it is crucial to note that you may only take this legal action if your injuries result from an accident caused by someone else's negligence. Generally, negligence can be defined by these elements:

  • Duty of Care: the individual was responsible for ensuring everyone's safety.
  • Breach of Duty: They failed to fulfill this duty.
  • Causation: The breach resulted in an accident.
  • Damages: The incident caused injuries and other damages.

Note that you can justify an individual's negligence in an accident if you have sufficient evidence to prove your personal injury claim in California, such as:

  • Police report,
  • Photos or videos of the accident,
  • Witness testimonies,
  • Accident reconstruction statements, and others.

It can be challenging to prove a personal injury claim. Having an experienced lawyer on your side can significantly improve your chances of success. They can assist you with navigating the legal process, gathering proof, and convincingly defending your case.

Works Cited

“CCP § 335.1.” California Legislative Information, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawC.... Accessed 17 October 2023.

“contingency fee | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Law.Cornell.Edu, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/contingency_fee. Accessed 17 October 2023.

“Definition: noneconomic damages from 42 USC § 247d-6d(e)(8) | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Law.Cornell.Edu, https://www.law.cornell.edu/definitions/uscode.php?width=840&height=800&.... Accessed 17 October 2023.

“Personal injury cases.” California Courts | Self Help, https://selfhelp.courts.ca.gov/civil-lawsuit/personal-injury. Accessed 17 October 2023.

“statute of limitations | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Law.Cornell.Edu, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/statute_of_limitations. Accessed 17 October 2023.

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