I sat down recently with my friend George for lunch. He’s a personal injury attorney and as such, I’ve come up with a multitude of nicknames for him thanks largely in part to the advent of the internet. George hates the names I call him: ambulance chaser, waiting room attendant, and of course, Ted.
But that day he took them especially bad. He yelled back at me that just because he
deals in personal injury, that doesn’t make him a scumbag. Egging him on, I jokingly responded back,
“But isn’t that the definition of a personal injury lawyer?” To my surprise though, George’s response
helped clarify a lot of the common misconceptions me and a lot of people,
especially potential clients, have about personal injury lawsuits. It also made me see how really freaking hard
it must be to land clients as one.
Anyway, here are five of the best ones IMHO.
1. Contingency Fee Agreements – “We Lose, You Don’t pay”
By far this is the biggest misconception most people have about personal injury lawyers. And it makes sense. In our modern society of identity theft, ebay shipping cost scams, and the age-old parentally driven notion of “no free lunch,” it’s hard to believe that any good deal could come without a catch. But really, in this case it’s actually true (unless the lawyer is actually a thief, of course). Attorneys have an ethical obligation to not only tell clients how much they’re going to charge and for what, but also a responsibility to be honest about it without any of the hidden fees stuff. So if an attorney says there’s only going to be a fee if they win, they’re telling the truth because they have to.
2. Employee Injury Lawsuits Will Get You Fired
I believed this one for the longest time, too - until I went
to law school, that is. Not only is it
untrue, but it’s also illegal for an employer to fire an employee for bringing
a lawsuit against them. Such a dismissal
could give way to a wrongful
termination lawsuit. Though chances
are that you’ll probably not want to work under an employer who you’ve tried to
sue or who has tried to unjustly fire you, but such is life. However, regardless of whether you decide to
pursue that type of legal action, if as an employee, you’re hurt on the job
because of something that your employer did wrong or negligently, you have a
right to compensation. Which bring me to
the next misconception . . .
3. Personal Injury Lawsuits Are A Drain To The Legal System And Another Way To Blame Someone Else
A lot of George’s clients think this, either when they first seek counsel from him or later on when the litigation is taking longer than what was originally expected. The reality is that such lawsuits do put a burden on the court system. But that is what the system is there for; not only that, but court fees must also be paid by the parties involved in the lawsuit. And as far as assignment of blame goes, sure there are a lot of people who misuse the civil legal system just to get money and point the finger. But all you have to do to fix it is just don’t be one of them and bring only lawsuits that you believe are truly valid. Furthermore, the larger injustice would be letting a wrongdoer get away with their actions. I mean, you probably wouldn’t want to let a guy who just robbed your house at gunpoint to walk free just because it would mean he’d be placed behind bars, would you?
4. Ambulance Chaser
Personal injury lawyers get this especially hard. The name implies that these types of
attorneys don’t care about their clients and only want to make money. Well, the truth is that being a lawyer, like
any business, is still a business and like any good business, it requires
earning money in order to survive. But
that doesn’t mean lawyers don’t believe in or care about who they’re
representing. And even if they don’t,
lawyers still have an ethical duty to do the best job they can at
representing their clients.
5. Winning Personal Injury Lawsuits Are Easy
This one is sort of the bastard stepchild in the personal injury myth family. Everyone isn’t sure how it got there, but for some reason everyone believes it’s in the right place. Though some attorneys’ advertisements may make you think otherwise, personal injury lawsuits aren’t necessarily always slam dunks. Sure, if you get a hit by a car in front of a slew of cameras and police officers you’re probably in for an easy win. But most of the time, you’re probably in for a fight, which is why you’ll need a good attorney.
Got anymore misconceptions you want to talk about? Hit me up in the comments section below.
By: Andrew Dat