The Truth About the Personal Injury Claim Process
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about personal injury lawsuits, much of it spread by insurance companies to discourage people from recovering the compensation they deserve. We’re here to tell you some things you might not know about how personal injury claims work, and why you may need to file one.
You might be wondering why you would even need an attorney after a car crash, slip-and-fall, or other injury. Can’t you just file a claim with your insurance company to get reimbursed for medical bills, auto repairs, and other costs related to your injury?
Not necessarily. The insurance industry’s entire business model is built on charging as much as they can while paying out as little as possible. That’s how companies like Allstate, Progressive, and GEICO rake in billions of dollars every year. So when you file a claim, most likely your insurance company is going to do everything in its power to avoid paying you. Generally speaking, their goal is to maximize profit, not alleviate pain.
(1) Filing a Lawsuit
If or when your insurance company delays, denies, or lowballs your claim, you should contact a personal injury attorney (NOT an attorney who handles every case type under the sun). These attorneys speak the insurance companies’ language, and it’s their job to fight back on behalf of the injured and to get them the compensation they need to recover. They send a letter to the insurance company demanding the amount the client needs, and if the insurance company won’t pay, the attorney files a formal complaint (lawsuit).
Depending on the situation, the attorney could be filing a lawsuit against the client’s insurance company, another party’s insurance company, a manufacturer, retailer, another company, or some combination thereof. It’s extremely rare for personal injury attorneys to file lawsuits against individuals. Almost always, they are suing a large company.
Also: Most personal injury attorneys don’t charge by the hour, and it costs nothing upfront to hire them. Instead, attorneys like ours only get paid if they recover a favorable settlement or jury verdict for the client, in which case they accept a percentage of that compensation. In other words, it’s free unless you win.
After filing a complaint, each side (the injured party is the plaintiff, the party they sued is the defendant) enters the discovery phase of the case. During this period, the plaintiff’s attorney will collect evidence, consult experts and witnesses, examine police and medical records, and do anything else they can to build the strongest possible case. Can you imagine having to do all this work yourself while injured, in addition to attending doctor’s appointments, surgeries, physical therapy, etc.? A good personal injury firm has an entire legal team working each case so that the client can focus on getting better.
After putting together all the evidence, the plaintiff’s firm enters into negotiations with the law firm representing the defendant. This planned negotiation is called mediation, the goal of which is to reach a settlement that both sides are comfortable with. At Morgan & Morgan, we won’t settle for anything less than full compensation for our clients. We take into account not only past and present medical bills and lost wages, but future expenses, reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of life’s enjoyment, and any other relevant damages that will occur over the course of the plaintiff’s life. It’s not just about how much a person has been injured up to this point; it’s about all the damages they will incur in the future, too.
Over the past 30 years, we’ve recovered $7 billion for our clients — most of it through settlements, not jury verdicts. But we’re not afraid to go to trial, either, if that’s what’s best for the client. In fact, every attorney at Morgan & Morgan is required to try at least three cases per year. Very few firms have a requirement like this, and too many attorneys aren’t ready or willing to go to trial. Not us. The other side knows we’ll go to court if we have to, and that gives us more leverage at the negotiation table.
(4) Trial (If Necessary)
If the plaintiff and defendant can’t reach a settlement agreement, they go to court, where a jury will determine how much money the defendant should pay the plaintiff. Between 90-95% of personal injury lawsuits never go to trial because they’re settled during the mediation stage. That said, a jury trial could lead to a great outcome for the plaintiff. At Morgan & Morgan, we’ve won $139 million in favorable jury verdicts for clients, compared to just $6,424,875 in pre-trial offers for these cases. That’s 20 times the amount the other side offered us before going to court.
Now that you know how this process works, you can see why it’s in the best interest of any injured person to contact a personal injury attorney to explore their options. It’s affordable, low-risk, and it could be the best way for them to recover the compensation they need to put their life back together.
If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours, and that’s the truth.