By Marcus Fernandez
Being hurt in a personal injury accident – be it automobile, slip and fall, work-related or otherwise – isn’t just a huge physical ordeal; it’s a financial one as well. Most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to take time off work to recover, especially if we have medical bills. Even with health insurance, deductibles and copays could be enormous. After an accident, one of the most important decisions is whether you need to contact a Tampa attorney to pursue a personal injury case.
In a perfect world, we can submit a claim to our insurance (or the guilty party’s insurance), receive our money and focus on feeling better. While this certainly does happen in some cases, the harsh reality is that insurance companies are a business. Like any business, their goal is to make money. Consequently, it’s no surprise that these organizations aren’t too keen on parting with their hard-earned premiums. It’s possible that they’ll try to find loopholes allowing them to short-change, or worse, deny you the compensation that you need and deserve; however, this doesn’t mean that you’re stuck without resolution.
If you find yourself at a dead-end trying to obtain compensation, hiring a Tampa personal injury law firm isn’t just smart, it’s essential. That being said, there are some myths about personal injury cases that need to be clarified so that you can have realistic expectations and avoid mistakes.
Myth # 1: Personal Injury Cases Settle Quickly
A common misconception about legal cases is that they are settled quickly with agreements reached in a matter of minutes. The truth is that if you are only looking for the “quick settlement,” you may not reach the “right settlement.”
While there’s no exact way to determine how smoothly your personal injury case will go, it won’t be fixed overnight. In fact, personal injury cases can take anywhere between a few months up to a number of years to reach a final settlement. It will depend on a number of factors, including the complexity of your case, the damage done and your expectations.
Myth #2: All Personal Injury Cases are Resolved in Court
While a settlement may not be instant, it’s actually the most common outcome. This means that all negotiations will be done between your attorneys and the defendant(s). You won’t be required to show up in court.
Statistically speaking, about 95% of all personal injury cases are settled outside of court; however, if you do end up having to go before a judge, your lawyer will be there to help. He or she will brief you on what to say (and not say), how to act, address the judge, etc.
Myth #3: Retaining a Personal Injury Lawyer is Expensive
You may ask yourself “how am I supposed to pay for a lawyer if I’m in such financial stress?” The answer is simple: you don’t. Most personal injury cases are taken on a payment plan called “contingency”. Simply put, this means that our payment is contingent on winning the case. If you get nothing, neither do we.
Typically, the deduction is 35% of your final settlement, plus costs. “Costs” refer to additional expenses, like billable hours, medical examinations and other related spending.
Myth #4: I Can Represent Myself in my Personal Injury Case
Of all the mistakes a potential plaintiff can make, representing yourself in your is by far the most potentially damaging. While you can legally represent yourself, doing so would put you at a massive disadvantage.
Insurance companies have experienced legal teams, and no matter how much research you do, you’re simply no match for them. Second, the legal system doesn’t like dealing with these types of situations, because they’re essentially obligated to guide you through each step of the process, wasting time and drawing out your case – a case that you’re far less likely to win without the assistance of a reputable attorney.
The Bottom Line
Personal injury cases are like snowflakes – each one is different. The duration, method of resolution (court vs. settlement), cost and final award will differ from case to case. If you feel that taking civil action against a person or insurance company is the right move for you, make sure to educate yourself and get the help of an established Tampa attorney.