Though car accidents and other serious accidents happen every day, relatively few people have gone through a full personal injury claim and lawsuit seeking compensation for their losses. This has led some people who deserve compensation for their injuries to have some incorrect assumptions about personal injury claims.
The attorneys and staff at Hardison & Cochran in Raleigh, NC, always go the extra mile to make sure our clients understand what is happening with their personal injury cases. During 30-plus years of legal practice, our law firm has helped many North Carolina families work through the legal process.
Below we share some of the most common myths about personal injury claims in North Carolina and what you should know about this type of civil litigation.
5 Common Myths About Personal Injury Claims
Myth: I don’t need a lawyer. I have insurance.
After being hurt in an accident, you should report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurer should pay you according to terms of your policy, whether it is auto insurance, homeowners, or health care. The cost of a serious accident may exceed the limits of your health insurance coverage. You may need to turn elsewhere to help, including to the insurance of the individual who caused your injuries.
An insurance company will typically pay you less than you deserve for an injury claim. In a serious injury case, the insurance company will often try to reach a settlement and close your file before all your costs are known. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that make a profit by paying as little as possible to settle claims.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will wait until you have recovered or are nearing the end of your medical treatment to calculate your costs and losses. That is the most effective way to understand the full extent of your losses and seek the largest insurance payout possible for you.
Myth: I can’t afford an attorney.
The personal injury lawyers of Hardison & Cochran pursue personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. We do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you. If we obtain a settlement or jury award for you, then we retain an agreed-upon percentage of the amount recovered as our fee, plus expenses.
A contingency fee arrangement allows you to afford the legal representation of an experienced attorney without having to pay money out of pocket to pursue justice. It also incentivizes your attorneys to recover as much money as possible to you.
Myth: A claim on personal injury is a way to get rich.
The objective of a personal injury claim is to ensure that you do not suffer financial harm due to losses someone else caused you. The claim seeks payment for your medical expenses, lost income and property damage, such as in a car crash. Ideally, the money recovered goes to creditors or replaces money you’ve paid.
North Carolina allows compensation for pain and suffering damages, recognizing the ordeal the accident victim has endured. In special cases involving malicious or outrageous conduct, a jury may award punitive damages intended to punish the defendant.
If you hear about a very large award in a personal injury claim, you can be sure that the individual was very seriously injured or someone was killed in a catastrophic accident. The recipient has likely lost their ability to work for a living or to enjoy a full life The money they receive is intended to ensure they are at least financially stable in the years ahead.
Myth: If I file a claim, I’ll have to go to court and live through it all again.
Most personal injury cases are settled through negotiations, without a trial. Most clients prefer not to go to court, and very few cases go to trial because of the added time and expense. Negotiating a settlement avoids the unpredictability of a trial outcome and allows the client to receive compensation more quickly. If the insurance company refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement, however, the attorneys of Hardison & Cochran have experienced trial attorneys and will be ready to present a persuasive case in court.
Myth: I don’t need to decide now about a personal injury claim. I can always get a lawyer later.
It’s always best to start working with a lawyer as soon as possible after a serious accident. North Carolina imposes statutes of limitations on personal injury claims, which in most cases allow three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. That seems like plenty of time, but the preparation of a lawsuit requires a lot of time-consuming investigation.
The investigation requires gathering evidence that can degrade or become lost in time such as security camera footage that captured an accident. One way we determine the strength of a claim is to have medical professionals examine our clients’ medical records. Gathering and shipping records and reviewing them takes time. We want to wait until you are fully recovered to file a suit so that we know the full extent of your costs and losses. Finally, there are plenty of ways for insurers to drag their feet as the statute of limitations deadline draws nearer. That can be costly.
There’s no reason to put off a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Do not wait.
Contact Hardison & Cochran About a Personal Injury Claim
An attorney is not needed every time someone is in an accident and has a personal injury claim. But we encourage every accident victim to at least consult a personal injury lawyer so they know their legal options and how an attorney can help. We can answer your questions and explain your legal options during a free, no-obligation legal consultation of your case. If you have a settlement offer, we’ll give you our frank professional opinion about it. Contact the injury attorneys at Hardison & Cochran today online or by phone.