From reruns of Law & Order to your favorite John Grisham novel, the world seems to have an obsession with the drama that surrounds the litigation process. Though a few pieces of fiction represent the litigation process close to how it plays out in reality (the film, My Cousin Vinny actually gets a good deal correct), many people are misled by their favorite courtroom dramas.
If you are unfortunately forced into litigation as a result of injuries and losses you sustained, you definitely need more than a fictional character in your corner to set some expectations. For that reason, we have broken down the single biggest misconception that we have received from people facing their very first day in court.
The Major Misconception About Litigation: It is Rarely Swift
The unfortunate truth is, justice is rarely as swift as we would all like it to be. Though a case on a TV show or movie is often cleanly wrapped up and resolved by the time credits roll, real litigation can take and often times takes many years, before all is said and done.
Insurance companies do their best to delay cases as long as possible, hoping to draw an inadequate settlement from desperate victims. A few other factors include:
- Ongoing Treatment: If you are still receiving treatment for injuries incurred, you may be asked to wait until you reach your maximum medical improvement, or MMI. This does not mean that you have necessarily fully recovered from all injuries, just that you are as healthy as you foreseeably can be after the accident. Some, after all, never recover to 100% health after a significant accident. Waiting until you reach your MMI can help secure the true value of your losses, especially medical bills and hospital stays.
- Proving Fault: If there is any doubt as to who the negligent party is, chances are, the insurance company will fight tooth and nail to disprove your claim and offer you the bare minimum for a settlement. There may also be issues involving medically proving that your injuries were caused by the accident in question. If a doctor cannot testify that your medical ailments and conditions were caused by the accident, your case may be further delayed or at risk of being dropped altogether.
- Causation: As mentioned above, medical evidence can be of the utmost importance to proving your case. This is where causation can complicate matters, however. Even if you can prove that the other party was negligent and caused the accident, they may claim that the extent of injuries incurred were actually caused by pre-existing injuries or degenerative diseases. Fault and causation are both vital to proving your case.
- Larger Claims: As you may imagine, the larger the claim, the bigger fight the insurance company will put up. Unfortunately, the larger claims are paired with more serious, even life-threatening or life-altering injuries, which require thousands of dollars in medical treatments, sometimes over years or an entire lifetime. Insurance companies realize that medical bills rack up fast, so simply stalling your case in order to pressure a quick settlement is a dubious-yet-effective tactic that insurance companies often execute.
All of these factors, plus the inclusion of the appeals process, add up to litigation that can be an arduous, exhausting and frustrating marathon, as opposed to a swift sprint to receiving the compensation you are owed.
Do not lose hope. An attorney with experience and expertise taking cases to court should anticipate these stalling tactics and not only set your expectations once reviewing your case, but also counter the insurance company with tactics of their own.
Collecting evidence that proves causation, fault and negligence, reviewing settlement offers to ensure that they are in your best interest and closely analyzing your medical records and recovery can get your claim reviewed and finalized in less time than you may expect.
Though we may eat up the litigation drama that fills our TV sets, movie theaters and bookshelves, it is important that we never make assumptions about our real-life cases based on fictional works. Though real attorneys may get fewer chances to employ the exciting yelling and theatrics found in fictional litigation (and are responsible for much more paperwork than they ever mention on the TV shows), an experienced personal injury attorney can be the difference between receiving what you are owed for your injuries and being strong-armed into an inadequate settlement.
After suffering at the hands of a negligent party, you do not deserve to suffer through the intentional foot-dragging techniques of crafty insurance companies. Contact our team of personal injury attorneys immediately after an accident, whether it be at work, on the road or at a business or home. We are ready to help.
Information cited: AllLaw.com