If you were injured in a car crash, slip and fall, dog attack, or another incident that was not your fault, you might not think of filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Many people are either unaware of the option or think it’s not for them. This is often because of misconceptions they have about the personal injury process that come from well-meaning but misinformed friends and negative portrayals of “ambulance chasers” in the media. We bust some of the most common myths people believe about personal injury claims so that you can be fully aware of your rights and options if you are seriously injured in an accident in Indiana that was not your fault.
Myth #1: A Lawyer Will Make the Situation More Complicated
If you haven’t dealt with many lawyers in your life, you might be reluctant to call one after an accident. There is a general misconception that lawyers complicate situations that could easily be resolved between two reasonable people. The reality is that an accident caused by one party’s negligence that leaves another party injured is already a complicated situation and, if you are the injured party, you need a lawyer to represent your interests and protect your rights. In fact, calling a lawyer will actually simplify the situation for you. Indiana personal injury law is complicated, but an experienced personal injury lawyer will take over from day one, freeing you up to focus on your recovery.
Myth #2: You Can’t Afford a Lawyer
While lawyers in certain practice areas do charge hundreds of dollars an hour, personal injury lawyers work in an entirely different way. Most personal injury law firms—including Keller & Keller—work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay anything until and unless we secure compensation for you from the at-fault party’s insurance company. At that point, we are paid a percentage of what you were awarded. At Keller & Keller, we are totally transparent about our fee structure, and you will know exactly how much of your award will go to us if we are successful before you agree to hire us. In most personal injury cases, we are able to increase the value of your claim by significantly more than our fee amount, so you don’t have to worry that you would take home more if you tried to negotiate a deal on your own. Additionally, we offer free, no-obligation case evaluations so that you can learn about our services and how we might be able to help you before you decide to hire us.
Myth #3: You Can Only Win a Claim by Going to Trial
Most personal injury claims are settled without the need for a trial. At Keller & Keller, we investigate the accident, gather evidence, and determine a fair compensation amount. Then we send the insurance company a demand letter that spells out what we believe our client is owed based on our evidence. This is usually followed by some back-and-forth negotiating before settling on an acceptable award. If the claim cannot be settled this way, we will file a lawsuit and take the case to trial. However, because we prepare each claim as if it is going to trial, we can usually prevent the need for court involvement.
Myth #4: It’s Best to Leave it to the Insurance Companies
Certainly, the insurance companies would prefer that you do this, but it is rarely in the injured victim’s best interest. The job of the insurance company for the negligent party is to save their company as much money as possible. They will do this by offering you a quick settlement that is far below the actual value of your claim. Insurance adjusters have a range of tactics up their sleeves to deter you in your pursuit of fair compensation, but they know better than to try these tricks with a proven law firm such as Keller & Keller. Do not trust an insurance adjuster who advises you to leave it to them!
Myth #5: You Can’t File a Claim If You’re Partially to Blame
In many car accidents, the responding police officers might issue tickets to all of the drivers involved. If you are ticketed for a minor offense, such as failure to yield, that does not mean you cannot hold the driver who was speeding, driving while impaired, or driving recklessly responsible for the damage they have caused. Under Indiana’s comparative fault laws, you can still recover damages from the other driver if you are found to be 50 percent or less responsible for the crash, but the amount they will have to pay will be reduced by your percentage of fault. It is essential that you have a lawyer on your team if you bear some of the blame for a crash. We can negotiate to reduce your percentage of fault to increase your compensation.
Myth #6: You Don’t Have a Claim If You Don’t Have Physical Injuries
Personal injury awards are based on what you have lost because of the accident. These losses include medical bills, time off work, loss of earning potential, and more. Even if you did not suffer serious physical injuries, you could suffer emotional injuries such as PTSD that result in the same financial losses. However, an insurance adjuster will fight pain and suffering damages with everything they’ve got. That is why you absolutely must have a lawyer if your damages are based on psychological trauma and emotional suffering.
Myth #7: Any Lawyer Can Handle the Case
So, you’re convinced that you need a lawyer, but you want to go with someone you know. It would be surprising if your divorce lawyer or estate planning attorney was willing to take your personal injury case, but if they do, they would be doing you a disservice. Personal injury is a highly specialized area of the law, and you want to make sure your legal team has successfully settled claims like yours. For example, if you were injured in a crash with a commercial semi-truck, you want a law firm that has dealt with the corporate lawyers and high values involved in these claims.
Let Keller & Keller Bust These Myths!
We have been around for a long time, and we have heard every myth and misconception out there. We are happy to address all of your concerns and set you straight in a free, no-obligation case evaluation in one of our Indiana offices. Fill out our contact form or call our office to get the legal help you need today.