There are many myths surrounding attorneys and what they can do for you. All of these myths are based on misconceptions often perpetrated in the media.
Here is a list of the top 5 myths about personal injury lawyers:
1. Myth: An attorney who advertises on T.V. must be an excellent attorney. Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to afford to advertise on television.
Truth: Most attorneys who advertise on television are very wealthy — but not from practicing good law. Usually a T.V. attorney runs a “lawsuit mill.” He hires many inexperienced attorneys willing to work at a starting salary. These associate attorneys have assistants who essentially do all the work on the cases. The first time that a client of one of these lawsuit mills actually sees any attorney is when his deposition is taken or when he goes to court the first time. But, throughout the pendency of his case, he has no interaction with the attorney who was advertised on television.
2. Myth: All personal injury cases are worth a lot of money.
Truth: Not all personal injury cases are won. Some cases have weak evidence or the defendant’s attorney may be able to prove that the other party was partially negligent. If the issues aren’t proved, the case is either not worth as much or the case is lost altogether.
3. Myth: A successful family law or criminal attorney will be just as successful in a personal injury case.
Truth: Most of the attorneys who are successful in personal injury cases are attorneys who do nothing but personal injury law. Because they have more experience in personal injury, they are usually more successful.
4. Myth: Anyone who has received a personal injury has an unlimited amount of time to retain an attorney and file a lawsuit.
Truth: Every state has its own statute of limitations (time limit) in which a lawsuit can be filed with the court. For instance, in California, the statute of limitations is one year. It is imperative that a person with a potential personal injury case see an attorney at his earliest opportunity after the accident.
5. Myth: You get more money if your personal injury case goes to trial.
Truth: The expense for taking a case to trial is monumental. Expert witnesses, traffic accident reconstructionists, your attorney and other professionals who testify at court in your behalf will be paid out of your trial award. If you lose at trial, you get nothing.
Taking a reasonable settlement offer is often the better route to take. At trial you have assurances of nothing. You are not required to accept a settlement offer. Whether or not you take it is up to you.
Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher living in Austin, Texas.