Personal injury cases can be difficult to handle. When you're trying to recover from an injury, the last thing you probably want to do is deal with a legal case.
But making sure you find the best path forward in your personal injury case is important. Receiving a positive judgment from the court could reduce the financial impact of your injury and help you lead a happier, healthier life later down the line. To that end, there are some common mistakes people often make in personal injury disputes you'll want to avoid as you progress your own case.
Mistake #1: Assuming All Personal Injury Cases Have Big Payouts
People often mistakenly assume that personal injury cases result in big paydays, which isn't always true.
People often use personal injury disputes, like the infamous McDonald's hot coffee personal injury lawsuit, as examples of cases where a victim received a significant amount of money. In the McDonald's case, an elderly woman, Stella Liebeck, received $3 million from the fast-food empire after suffering burns from spilling hot McDonald's coffee on herself.
Or at least, that's the popular narrative surrounding the case. What actually happened is quite a bit different.
People often downplay Mrs. Liebeck's injuries, which were actually quite significant. She suffered burns over 16% of her body, many of which were severe enough to require skin grafts.
Additionally, McDonald's knew it was serving coffee too hot. The restaurant had received almost 700 complaints about its coffee, which was served at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to cause third-degree burns in less than 15 seconds. McDonald's' negligence in refusing to lower coffee temperatures even after hundreds of complaints played a key role in the case.
Despite all that, Mrs. Liebeck received much less money than most people think. While a jury did award her $2.7 million in punitive damages, that amount was reduced to $680,000 by a judge. McDonald's appealed the case, and Mrs. Liebeck ended up settling for less than $500,000 out of court.
Many personal injury cases end up like Mrs. Liebeck's, settled out of court for a smaller sum than the jury deems equitable. That's because, especially when large companies get sued for personal injury, they often try to keep cases in the court by appealing them. If the victim wants to receive damages compensation in a reasonable amount of time, they may need to settle out of court for a smaller sum than the court would award them.
Mistake #2: Not Cataloging Expenses Accurately Enough
Many people also make the mistake of failing to meticulously catalog expenses they suffer as a result of their injury, which can stop them from receiving an equitable judgment.
In many personal injury lawsuits, you can claim compensation for more than just medical expenses. You may also be eligible to receive compensation for mental trauma you suffered as a result of the injury, lost wages from missed time at work, and more.
However, you can only get the full amount of compensation you deserve if you have a strong case. Keeping track of every cost you incur as a result of the injury is vital if you want to be fairly compensated for the injury, and far too many personal injury victims fail to catalog injury-related expenses accurately.
Mistake #3: Assuming Your Insurance Company Is on Your Side
Insurance companies have one goal: Make money. To that end, the less they pay out in personal injury claims, the better it is for their bottom-line.
Many personal injury victims assume their insurance company will fight for the greatest sum of money they could possibly receive, but that's rarely the case. Insurance companies turn a profit by charging people high premiums and paying out relatively little in return, so you may find yourself battling your insurance as much as you fight the person or entity that injured you.
The reticence of insurance companies to pay personal injury victims is one reason it's so important to have a good personal injury lawyer on your case. A personal injury lawyer will fight for your rights, advocating your best interests and helping you receive the compensation you deserve for your injury.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, our experienced attorneys stand ready to help you navigate your personal injury case with confidence.