Jill Kolodner | December 26, 2022 | Personal Injury
During the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about “tort reform,” a movement that seeks to minimize frivolous lawsuits. Those who want to spur change argue that lawsuits make things more expensive for all other consumers and that these cases clog the court system.
WGK Personal Injury Lawyers identifies many of the myths surrounding personal injury settlements and the realities.
Myth: Personal Injury Cases Are Get-Rich-Quick Schemes
Media coverage often sensationalizes personal injury cases, only reporting on those rare cases that result in multimillion-dollar verdicts. This contributes to an inaccurate perception that anyone can obtain millions and get rich quickly by filing a lawsuit.
Reality: Personal Injury Claimants Pursue Fair Compensation
At WGK Personal Injury Lawyers, we have yet to meet a client who would have preferred to be injured and compensated rather than never injured in the first place.
Accident victims face significant hardships following personal injuries, including:
- Expensive emergency medical treatment
- Ongoing medical treatment
- Therapy and mental health care costs
- Lost wages while recovering from the accident and while seeking treatment
- Impaired earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Personal injury victims seek compensation just so they can be put in the position they were in before the accident, not to become a millionaire. Additionally, most cases result in much more modest awards.
Myth: There’s an “Average” Settlement for a Personal Injury Case
One common web search is “What is the average settlement for a personal injury case?” There is no such thing as an “average settlement.” Even cases involving similar injuries and facts can have wildly different outcomes.
Reality: Every Case Is Different
Every case is different and can be affected by various factors, such as:
- The nature and severity of your injuries
- Whether an injury is permanent in nature
- The types of medical treatment you underwent and will have in the future
- The actual economic costs you incurred
- How the accident and your injuries have affected you
- Available insurance coverage
- Whether you contributed to the accident
- The available evidence to support your claim
- Your pre-existing medical conditions
A personal injury lawyer can review the details of your individual case and give you a better idea about the potential value of your claim.
Myth: I Can Get an Unlimited Amount of Money from a Personal Injury Settlement
Some personal injury victims believe the sky’s the limit for the money they can receive from a personal injury case. They conjure up images of dollar signs and multi-million dollar awards.
Reality: State Law Limits Your Potential Recovery
Most financial recovery personal injury victims receive is through the awarding of “economic damages.” These are those quantifiable losses you suffered that can be assigned a monetary value, such as the cost of your medical care or lost wages. Therefore, that portion of your claim is limited to the value of these items that you can prove.
The other category of damages is called non-economic damages. These are losses that cannot be so easily quantified, such as physical pain and suffering and emotional trauma. Maryland caps the amount of non-economic damages in personal injury claims at $905,000 for cases in 2022. For wrongful death cases, the 2022 non-economic damages cap is $1,380,000 if there are two or more wrongful death beneficiaries. This amount increases by $15,000 each year.
Most personal injury claims are limited by the amount of available insurance. For example, Maryland’s minimum automotive liability insurance requirements are:
- $30,000 for bodily injury to one person
- $60,000 for bodily injury to two or more people
- $15,000 for property damage
If you get in an accident with an at-fault driver who only carries the minimum amount of liability insurance, your claim may be limited to these amounts unless there is other available insurance or you sue the driver (who may not have assets you can attach).
Myth: I Can Just Go to Court to Get More Money
Some people may threaten to take the defendant to court so they can get more money. However, litigation is expensive, and juries can be unpredictable.
The vast majority of personal injury cases do not go to trial. Instead, they are usually resolved through settlement negotiations between personal injury lawyers and insurance companies. Trials are expensive, so any potential award can be reduced by these costs.
Additionally, trials are often time-consuming and stressful. A lawyer can advise a client on the best strategy to recover fair compensation.
Myth: I Can Get a Fair Settlement on My Own
Some personal injury victims may try to handle their claim on their own, thinking they don’t need a lawyer. Most of the time, the insurance company prefers to deal with claimants who do not have legal representation.
Reality: A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Be a Huge Asset
Not having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side can immediately reduce the potential value of your claim. Insurance companies know that most people are not seasoned negotiators. They may not know how to evaluate their claim properly, or the insurance company may try scare tactics to get the victim to agree to a lowball settlement.
A lawyer can fight for your fair recovery and manage your claim so you can focus on your health and well-being. A personal injury lawyer can also document your damages, estimate the value of your claim, and explain the realities of personal injury settlements.