A Dangerous Myth The Truth About Personal Injury Law
H aving defended the rights of injured folks for the past 25 years, I can confidently say that few areas of the law are more misunderstood. If you believe the TV personalities and radio talk show hosts, personal injury law is filled with frivolous cases and people trying to make a quick buck. Not only is this false, it’s a dangerous myth that keeps real people from seeking compensation when they’re harmed by someone else’s negligence. Let me put it this way: When I was growing up near Chicago, my friends and I played a lot of baseball. Playing in my backyard, and unaware of my own strength, I managed to knock one out of the park — and directly into our neighbor’s window. My parents marched me next door and offered to pay for it. Now, this was an accident; I didn’t swing the bat meaning to commit vandalism. My mistake was in not putting much thought into where the ball might go after I hit it, and in failing to realize that we should probably go play somewhere with more space. Who should bear the burden for my negligence — the neighbors or my allowance? This is exactly the reasoning behind personal injury law: it’s about determining who should bear the burden for a negligent act. Of course, personal injury deals with far more important things than windows. A careless driver or a dangerous, poorly maintained property can cause irrevocable harm to people by complete accident. Being in a car accident can leave you with injuries that could impact you for the rest of your life. Falling because of a dangerous condition on another’s property can cause serious and sometimes lifelong injuries as well. Who should bear the burden of these damages — the victim or the person at fault? That’s why this area of the law
exists: to make sure you don’t have to pay the price for someone else’s mistake.
Of course, the most important thing you should do after an accident is go to the doctor. The pain that accident victims think is going to go away after a few days often ends up being something more damaging, like whiplash. The best way to spot these sorts of injuries is to seek out a medical professional early and treat them effectively. This is why I say that the myth of this country being awash in frivolous lawsuits is dangerous. The stigma surrounding pursuing personal injury claims can lead people to try to conform to their injuries rather than hire “one of those lawyers.” But unlike the insurance companies, “those lawyers” are tied to your success. Our one and only job is to make sure you are compensated either by the people who hurt you, or the insurance company you’ve trusted to come to your aid. I’m proud to be one of “those lawyers.” For almost three decades I’ve given a voice to people who have been wronged. As my parents taught me all those years ago, people need to be held accountable for their mistakes.
There are some people who will ask themselves, “Well, isn’t that what insurance is for?” Sure, if we lived in a perfect world. Unfortunately, the reality is that insurance companies are, well, companies. They have shareholders to satisfy and bottom lines to improve. It isn’t in their best interests to accept at face value every claim they receive. While an insurance adjuster may play themselves up to be on your team, you aren’t their employer. The best thing for the company is finding any reason to diminish or dismiss your claim, and that company signs their paycheck. Never forget that. This is why I urge people to know how to look after their own rights in case they ever find themselves involved in something like a car accident. Insurance companies will look for any reason to cast a cloud of doubt over your side of the story, so get hard evidence. Take pictures, talk to witnesses, and exchange contact information. I know this can be tough, especially if you are badly injured. But this is the kind of evidence you won’t get another shot at collecting.
-Tom Wil son
www.wilson-law-office-elkhart.com | 1
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