Five common myths about Georgia personal injury cases can leave injury victims unaware of their legal rights or believing that they’re entitled to less compensation for their injuries than they actually are. Here’s the truth:
1. I should hire a TV lawyer for my personal injury case
There are many good personal injury lawyers out there, but most of the lawyers that you see advertising on TV and radio are not among them. In fact, the reason these lawyers have to advertise to get clients is that no one who knows anything about personal injury lawyers would hire one in the first place. They don’t communicate with their clients, never go to court or try cases and settle cases for pennies on the dollar. Insurance companies and lawyers who defend personal injury cases don’t take them seriously. Neither should you. Even if you choose not to hire our firm we will be glad to refer you to other experienced personal injury lawyers who will do an excellent job with your case
2. There’s a formula used to determine settlement amounts
Insurance companies may tell you that they determined your settlement offer by taking your medical bills and lost wages and multiplying that amount by 1.5 or 2. Personal injury law does not have any formula, equation or calculator to determine the settlement amount of a personal injury case. The value of your personal injury case is ultimately determined by a jury. When personal injury lawyers evaluate the value of a case, they base their decision on the facts of your specific case and what sort of verdicts juries have awarded with similar cases in the past.
3. The insurance company will settle rather than paying the expenses of defending a lawsuit and going to court
Insurance companies are in the business of defending and settling lawsuits. Big insurance companies like Allstate and State Farm defend thousands of lawsuits every year and don’t bat an eyelash at the thought of defending one more case. While insurance companies do factor the costs of defending a lawsuit into their settlement offers, their decisions are based more on what they believe the value of your case is. If the insurance company thinks it isn’t at fault for the accident, that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident or that you’re asking for too much money, it’s not afraid for you to take the case to court.
4. I should take the first settlement offer
The first settlement offer is not the best settlement offer. The goal of an insurance company is to settle your case for as little as possible, not for what it’s worth, and they will almost always make a better settlement offer than the first one. Insurance companies make low first settlement offers hoping that you’re not aware of your legal rights and haven’t consulted with an attorney yet and will accept it. Insurance companies will also increase their settlement offers at different stages of the case. For instance, before a lawsuit is filed they’ll make several settlement offers and then tell you that their last offer is their “best offer.” After you’ve filed a lawsuit, the insurance company will usually make several additional settlement offers and then tell you that the current offer is their “final offer.” And then right before the case goes to trial, the insurance company will make their “last offer,” which is – usually – the best settlement offer that they will make. We’ve even had insurance companies increase their settlement offers during trial or after the jury gets the case.
5. All personal injury cases go to trial
Most cases settle before you go to court. However, it’s often necessary to file a lawsuit and prepare your case for trial in order to force the insurance company to make a reasonable settlement offer. In fact, the insurance company usually won’t make its best offer until you’re on the courthouse steps, so to speak. Once a lawsuit has been filed you can choose to settle the case at any time. Georgia law even allows you to dismiss and re-file your lawsuit one time.