Personal Injury Settlements: Myths vs. Reality

Well over 90% of personal injury claims settle out of court. Nevertheless, myths about personal injury claims abound. Learn the truth, so you don’t discover it the hard way after you suffer a personal injury.

Myth #1: “My Insurance Will Cover My Claim.”

Not necessarily, especially if you were in a Florida car accident. What types of insurance do you hold? What are the policy limits? 

The Florida car accident compensation system leaves a lot to be desired.  Florida requires its motorists to carry the following types of coverage:

Florida and New Jersey are the only two states that do not require their drivers to purchase bodily injury liability insurance.

Myth #2: “You Cannot Sue the At-Fault Driver in a Florida Car Accident.”

Usually, you can’t, but sometimes you can. If your injuries are “serious,” as Florida law defines that term, you can opt out of Florida’s no-fault system and sue the at-fault driver. 

The good news in these cases is that you can claim non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

Potential problems include situations where the at-fault driver:

  • Disputes whether your injuries qualify as serious;
  • Didn’t purchase bodily injury liability insurance;
  • Argues that they were not at fault (you must prove fault to win a lawsuit against an at-fault driver);
  • Lacks the personal assets to pay your claim.

Myth #3: “The Insurance Adjuster is My Friend”

The insurance adjuster is your adversary, not your friend. The more money the insurance company pays on your claim, the smaller its profits. It is this conflict of interest that makes the insurance company your adversary. Since insurance adjusters are typically skilled negotiators, you likely will need a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.

Myth #4: “I Must Prove My Claim ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’ to Win.”

No, you don’t. The standard of proof in a personal injury case is a “preponderance of the evidence.” That means that the strength of your evidence must outweigh the strength of the defendant’s evidence, even if only by a small amount. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” applies to criminal trials, not personal injury claims. 

Myth #5: “Pain and Suffering Damages Are Not Worth Much.”

That all depends on how much pain you suffer. Pain and suffering damages compensate you for your physical suffering. If you suffered a lot, your compensation for pain and suffering could easily. outnumber your compensation for medical expenses and lost earnings combined. You cannot claim pain and suffering damages in a no-fault auto accident or workers’ compensation claim.

Myth #6: “I Can Come Back and Get More Money Later If I Run Out.”

This myth, although relatively uncommon, is particularly dangerous for people who suffer lifelong disabilities from their accident. Calculating lifetime medical expenses and lifetime lost earnings can be so difficult that you might need an expert witness to give an estimate. If your estimate is too low, you cannot receive any more money later.

Myth #7: “A Handshake and a Cashier’s Check are All I Need to Finalize My Settlement.”

No insurance company, and very few defendants, will hand over compensation on nothing more than a handshake. They will need a professionally drafted settlement agreement. A template settlement agreement you found on the Internet won’t work. You can have your lawyer draft it. 

Alternatively, you can have the other party’s lawyer draft it and ask your lawyer to check it. Keep a copy for yourself with the original signatures of both parties.

Myth #8: “I Can Get Rich From Punitive Damages”

Courts sometimes award punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages. The purpose is to punish the defendant and to deter others from imitating the defendant’s conduct.

Courts in every state, including Florida, award punitive damages only occasionally. Even a defendant who causes a DUI crash might be able to avoid punitive damages. That being said, in rare cases, you can get rich from punitive damages.

Myth #9: “I Will Lose My Case If I Was Partly at Fault for the Accident”

That is not necessarily true. Florida administers a “pure comparative negligence” system when more than one party is at fault. A court will assign a percentage of fault to each party. It will then (i) subtract that percentage from the party’s damages and (ii) order that party to pay the same percentage of the other party’s damages.

For example, if you were 20% at fault, you would lose 20% of your damages and have to pay 20% of the other party’s damages. 

Myth #10: “I Can’t Afford a Personal Injury Lawyer”

Yes, you can afford a personal injury lawyer. Almost every personal injury lawyer works on contingency. That means they will take their legal fee from a pre-agreed percentage of the compensation they recover for your injuries (either as a settlement or as a court judgment). 

This payment system means you don’t need a dime upfront. It also means that you will owe your lawyer nothing if you don’t win your claim.

Contact the Pinellas County Personal Injury Lawyers At Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help

On average, personal injury claimants who hire lawyers receive several times more compensation than unrepresented claimants, even after deducting legal fees. Legal claims do not enforce themselves—you need to take action. 

For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg personal injury law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve in Pinellas County and its surrounding areas:

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
United States
Open 24 hours
(727) 796-8282

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,
United States
Open 24 hours
(727) 349-1728