If you’ve read or heard about one personal injury case, then you know enough about all of them. Or at least that’s what a lot of people think. These kinds of cases can be easy to pre-judge if you only read the headlines — the McDonald’s hot coffee case is a good example of this. But when you dig deeper, you should realize that personal injury cases are more complicated. People aren’t bringing these cases to court because they’re bored or greedy. If you get hurt in British Columbia, it’s important to leave all your options on the table. That option includes filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Let’s take a closer look at some common misconceptions around these types of cases.
People who file aren’t really hurt
It’s all too common for people to look at a personal injury case and think that someone is faking it. Maybe you don’t believe that a car accident was that bad. Or maybe you’re just naturally suspicious of anyone who files because you think that if they were truly injured, they’d be focused on their recovery rather than a lawsuit.
But here’s the thing: injury lawyers in BC generally know what they’re doing when they agree to represent someone. There aren’t attorneys out there representing clients who jammed their fingers in a door and want to sue the door company, for instance. That’s just not how the system works in Canada (or anywhere else, really). A person’s injuries have to be life-altering. They might even be dealing with something like a traumatic brain injury after a car accident. The injured party may not even want to file a case, but they often feel like they have no choice if, for instance, an insurance company is refusing to deal with them in good faith. These types of lawsuits are never someone’s first option.
Lawyers are using clients for money
If you don’t know much about the system, you might picture a scenario like this: A prospective client enters a lawyer’s office. They say, “I want to file a case against Company X.” The lawyer replies, “Great, but where’s the money?” The client then hands over a big pile of money before the case even gets started.
While there are some types of lawyers who require retainer fees, but personal injury lawyers usually don’t get paid unless their case is successful. That may mean winning a settlement, or it may mean going to trial and prevailing that way. But personal injury lawyers have to take cases they truly believe in. If the evidence isn’t strong, then they probably aren’t going to get anywhere.
In short, a personal injury lawyer should value both his time and his prospective client’s time. Most do, which is why they don’t file a case unless they think it’s more likely than not that they’ll win.
Clients spend the settlement money on frivolous things
How do you picture a personal injury client celebrating a settlement? They’re not going to go party for three days straight. For one thing, the injuries don’t go away just because they got money via the court system. Sure, they may go out for a quiet dinner with their family, but that’s about the extent of it.
They have to live off the settlement money, and that means spending it responsibly. If someone became disabled as a result of a slip and fall accident, then they might use the settlement money on a bathroom remodeling project that will make their home more accessible. If they lost income at work, then lawsuit money can be used to replace that. A few people might blow through the money quickly, but most people will be careful with it. They know how hard it was to get that money in the first place.