Most people understand that if you experience a personal injury because of someone else’s negligence, you’re entitled to receive compensation. But most people don’t understand how personal injury settlements and forms of compensation actually work.
In this guide, we’ll seek to demystify personal injury settlements and clear up some common misconceptions.
What Most People Don’t Understand About Personal Injury Settlements
These truths about personal injury settlements can help you better understand the process (and root out any misconceptions you currently hold).
1. Personal injury lawsuits aren’t common as you think.
First, many people have the misconception that personal injury settlements are ridiculously frequent, attributable to our litigious culture.
There are more than 400,000 personal injury claims filed each year in the United States, and more than half of these are a result of a car accident, but this is still less than most people would estimate, given the U.S. total population is more than 335 million.
2. Insurance companies aren’t necessarily on your side
Most of us purchase an insurance policy because we want to feel protected. We want to make sure there is a company to compensate us and shield us from financial damages if we’re ever involved in an accident.
However, it’s important to remember that insurance companies are profit motivated, so they’re always interested in paying as little as possible; because of this, most insurance companies offer little compensation initially, forcing you to negotiate for more.
3. Settlements take a long time to resolve
Most cases don’t go to trial, but that doesn’t change the fact that settlements do take a long time to resolve.
It could take weeks to negotiate with your insurance company, and even longer to finalize a mutually acceptable resolution.
After that, it could take even more weeks or months to receive your money. If you’re caught unprepared, you could find yourself in a financially tenuous situation.
4. You don’t have to rely on personal savings alone
While waiting for your settlement money, you’ll heavily rely on your personal savings. But you don’t have to rely on personal savings alone.
For example, you can seek pre-settlement funding (sometimes called a lawsuit loan). In this arrangement, you’ll receive a lump sum of capital upfront, based on your projected settlement amount.
If you don’t receive a settlement, you’ll owe nothing, and if and when you do receive your settlement, you’ll pay the money back with a fixed fee.
It’s one of the most convenient and straightforward ways to get access to extra money during this time.
5. Going to trial is uncommon
The average person imagines a typical personal injury case playing out in a courtroom, with angry lawyers bickering back and forth. But the reality is only a small percentage of personal injury cases ever go to trial. Trials are long, messy, and expensive, so all parties are interested in avoiding trials unless absolutely necessary.
6. Only massive injuries should prompt legal action
It’s easy to understand why personal injury cases arise from massive, devastating injuries, but it’s also sometimes worthwhile to pursue a personal injury case even when your injury is small. It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer to see whether your case is worth pursuing or not.
7. You can afford to wait before filing
Depending on where you live, there may be a statute of limitations on legal proceedings. Don’t wait too long before filing, or you could miss your opportunity to get the compensation you deserve.
If you’re not sure what the statute of limitations is, or if you were injured a long time ago, talk to a lawyer to see what your options are.
8. You shouldn’t file a personal injury lawsuit against a friend or family member
If you were injured by a friend or family member, you may be reluctant to pursue legal action. After all, you don’t want to strain your relationship or alienate someone important to you.
But in some cases, it’s important to move forward with legal action to get an acceptable result. And remember, most of the time, the defendant in a personal injury case isn’t the one who pays; it’s their insurance company.
These are some of the most important takeaways to remember:
- Personal injury settlements are often complex and confusing. Personal injury settlements can be complex and confusing, making them difficult for laypeople to understand. Each case is unique, so it’s hard to make broad claims about how personal injury cases work.
- Pop culture and popular beliefs aren’t good teachers. If everything you know about personal injury cases comes from television shows and everyday gossip, you probably have at least a few misconceptions. Pop culture and popular beliefs aren’t good teachers on subjects like this.
- You should always talk to a lawyer. If you’ve been hurt in an accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, it’s always a good idea to talk to a lawyer. Your claim may or may not be worth pursuing, but talking to a lawyer initially is usually free, so you have nothing to lose.
Personal injury settlements aren’t easy to understand, but they become much more approachable and understandable when you’re working with a professional lawyer. Even if you’re reluctant to pursue legal action, you should always talk to a lawyer and see what your options are if you’ve suffered an injury because of someone else.