It’s a common perception that people file lawsuits just because they can- or because they are trying to get rich quick.
In a small number of cases this may be true, but the news media tends to highlight these cases, which makes them seem more common than they are. As a result, it is easier and easier to think that there should be restrictions on lawsuits or settlement limits, especially if you or someone you know has never had to file a lawsuit.
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had tell me in our first meeting that they don’t like lawsuits. “I’m not a litigious person.” “I’m not sue-happy.” “I really don’t like the idea of suing anyone.” “I could have filed suits in the past and didn’t.” Those comments are always followed by a comment like “…But THIS situation is different.”
As you’re reading this, you may be thinking to yourself that you also are not a litigious person. That you also do not like the idea of suing anyone.
You might even be telling yourself that you wouldn’t be one of those clients of mine because you wouldn’t even walk in my door – regardless of whether you were injured. Maybe. But most likely you’ve never been injured due to the fault of another or, if you have, you were fortunate like I was when I was in a collision.
After my crash, I had one trip to the ER and my health insurance covered the bill. I didn’t miss any work, so I did not have lost wages to worry about. My car insurance took care of the damage to my vehicle, and I was feeling back to my usual self within a week. In cases like mine, there is no reason to file suit. However, there are countless individuals who have an entirely different experience.
Imagine this: You stop at a red light when, out of nowhere, you are hit from behind by someone who was talking on their cell phone and not paying attention to traffic. Thanks to the adrenaline rush after a stressful experience, you feel fine at first, but over the next few days you start to develop extreme back pain. You have insurance, but your doctor recommends four months of physical therapy and only one month is covered by your plan. After a few months, you learn that physical therapy is insufficient, and your doctor recommends surgery by an out of network physician. Your deductible is thousands of dollars and you are already living paycheck to paycheck. Meanwhile, because of your injury, you have not been able to work. You use all of your sick time and then every day you miss is a day of lost wages. Once you’re physically able to work, you discover that your vehicle has been totaled. Your insurance has paid out, but what they paid is nowhere near enough money to purchase a comparable vehicle and you have no alternative transportation. If you are the primary earner for your household, how long can your family survive without income? To even apply for Social Security Disability you need to miss work for six months. What would you do in the meantime?
As you can see, after a wreck, it’s easy to find yourself up to your ears in medical bills with no income and no transportation. Any one of these scenarios could turn your life on end, and combined they are more than overwhelming. If you have excellent insurance, multiple vehicles, and a nice nest egg, I commend you; but please take a moment to consider those who are not as fortunate.
Imagine someone who works hard to support themselves and their family, and all of a sudden - through no fault of their own - they can no longer make ends meet or obtain the treatment they need. They desperately need to be compensated for their medical bills and their lost wages or their whole world will collapse around them. So, what recourse do they have? Simple: They need to file suit. And that means they need to hire an attorney.
I confess that we are not free. Most attorneys in this area charge 1/3 of the net proceeds plus reimbursement of expenses incurred along the way. This means that injured crash victims need to recover more than $15,000 for every $10,000 of money they’ve lost and/or bills they’ve incurred just to break even. They are not “getting a payday.” The math just gets worse as the case progresses. If a case has to go all the way through to trial in a standard car wreck case, it will almost definitely involve tens of thousands of dollars in expenses.
None of the above even begins to address the idea of pain and suffering.
It may seem odd to you to have someone pay money for the pain their negligence has caused someone, but what else is there? Imagine you are having a really bad headache that just will not go away. The injuries from the wreck, combined with the tension from the pain, leave you with that feeling in your neck and back like you’ve slept funny. Imagine either of those feelings anywhere else in your body. It could last for months. Or years. All-day, every day. The constant pain is distracting. You are literally never comfortable. That affects your sleep, your mood, your relationships, and your work. Constant or even regular pain affects your entire life.
Every client I’ve ever had with ongoing pain would gladly have traded any amount of money for a perfect cure or a pain-free life. Unfortunately, that is not an option. The only option available is to try to ease their stress and make their lives a little more comfortable by compensating them financially.
So, here’s the call to action. Put yourselves in the shoes of your fellow citizen.
Realize the overwhelming stress, desperation, and helplessness involved with finding yourself unable to pay your bills and support your household. Imagine dealing with those emotions while experiencing nonstop pain. Then share those thoughts with someone. Share this article if you would like. Ask them to think about this issue too. We can stop victims from being blamed and criticized for taking the only recourse available to help them through their time of need. We can stop punishing victims for the actions of a few bad eggs who may have tried to game the system. Together we can make a difference in the lives of many. If you have been injured and need advice, call us at (217) 394-5885 for a completely free consultation.