We Americans live in a litigious society. There are too many “suit-happy” individuals, hiring too many greedy lawyers, who are filing too many frivolous lawsuits! So the story goes. But that narrative is another myth created by a conservative ideology that will do all it can to protect big business and hurt the little guy.
The truth is that the majority of legitimate claims will never walk through a lawyer’s front door. Here are the top five reasons why some accident victims never sue.
1. Not Knowing Their Rights
It’s hard to believe but, at a time with so much lawyer advertising, some accident victims are ignorant of their rights. With “free consultation” plastered everywhere, why someone injured in an accident would not consult with a lawyer is hard to understand. I chalk it up to the belief that the word “free,” like the word “sale,” has simply lost it’s meaning. No one believes it… there’s got to be a catch!
2. Thinking They Can Handle Their Own Claim
The insurance adjustor of the guy who just rear-ended you, and sent you to the hospital, tells you there is no need to hire a lawyer. He will fairly settle your claim. And I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you! While that insurance adjustor might be friendly, he is not your friend. His job is to settle your claim for the least amount of money possible.
To be honest, there are some claims that are just too small for lawyers to handle. Those are the only types of claims you should try to manage yourself. How do you know if your claim is too small for a lawyer? Simple. You call a few lawyers and they tell you… or you get a call from an insurance adjustor wanting to settle your claim! If they’re talking settlement, they know you have a good case a lawyer would take!
3. Not Wanting To Sue A Friend Or Relative
Most people feel uncomfortable making a claim against a friend or relative. They don’t want to create trouble. They do not want to hire a lawyer who will drag that person into court by suing. What most accident victims don’t know is that the great majority of cases never go to court. In fact, many cases are settled without even serving a summons on the negligent party. Most cases are settled out of court directly with an insurance adjustor. The money doesn’t come out of the friend’s pocket but that of the fat insurance company.
4. They Don’t Want To Give A Lawyer 33% Of Their Settlement
Personal injury lawyers generally work on a “contingency fee” basis. They will get paid a percentage of the settlement amount, usually one-third or more, depending on the state. So why hire a lawyer when you can settle the case yourself and pay a zero fee? Simple. Studies have shown that accident victims represented by an attorney will end up with more settlement money… even after the lawyer’s fee is taken into account! The layperson is usually not as skilled a negotiator as is a seasoned attorney. An attorney knows the value of a case. A lawyer can use various negotiating tactics not available to the injured party representing himself. Abe Lincoln famously said, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
5. They Think They Are Precluded From Suing Because They May Be Partially At Fault.
While there are still a few states that preclude an accident victim from recovering compensation if they in any way contributed to their injury (Alabama, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina), most states allow for recovery even if the accident victim was partly at fault. If you are the driver involved in an intersection accident with another vehicle, you may be found 55% responsible for the accident. You still can collect 45% of the value of your case from the other driver’s insurance company, i.e. if your case is valued at $100,000, you still collect $45,000! A skilled lawyer will try to get your percentage of responsibility the lowest possible.
If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, there is no reason not to consult with a personal injury lawyer about your rights. The consultation is free. There is no fee unless your case is won. And representing yourself is almost never a good idea. We at PersonalInjuryHoltine.com have been advising, and representing, accident victims for nearly 35 years. Let us help you.