Busting Myths About Personal Injury

Busting Myths About Personal Injury

photo of man in wheelchair in nursing home

Perhaps the biggest myth out there is the belief that society is “sue-happy” and those who pursue injury claims just try to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense. The insurance industry and big business interests have done a great job of spinning public opinion that way.  One of the cases which was used to perpetuate that stigma was the “McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit” in the 90s. The effect of the spin on that case was that people developed “claim shame,” a feeling of guilt which inhibited many people from pursuing legitimate claims out of fear that they would be perceived as greedy or worse.

1) Most personal injury claims are frivolous. – FALSE

Perhaps the biggest myth out there is the belief that society is “sue-happy” and those who pursue injury claims just try to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense. The insurance industry and big business interests have done a great job of spinning public opinion that way. One of the cases which was used to perpetuate that stigma was the “McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit” in the 90s. The effect of the spin on that case was that people developed “claim shame,” a feeling of guilt which inhibited many people from pursuing legitimate claims out of fear that they would be perceived as greedy or worse.

To the contrary, most personal injury claims are brought by individuals who have suffered legitimate injuries that were caused by the negligence of others. In fact, if you were to review the facts of the McDonald’s case you would discover that the jury’s award was warranted given evidence presented at trial that numerous McDonald’s customers had been previously injured by their hot coffee, which they kept at 180-190 degrees (hotter than most other restaurants, and even hotter than the recommended temperature to cook chicken). In addition, the woman who was injured suffered third-degree burns over 6% of her body and lesser burns over 16% of her body which included her groin, thighs, and buttocks. She spent 8 days in the hospital while undergoing skin grafting and lost 20 pounds reducing her to 83 pounds. She was also partially disabled for two years. And the award was substantially diminished before it was ever paid. Of course, none of that information was included in the “spin.”

2) The at-fault party will have to pay out-of-pocket. – FALSE

It’s a common misconception that if you file a personal injury claim, the at-fault party will have to pay out-of-pocket. Most people don’t want to be responsible for making the at-fault party’s life miserable and ruining them financially by filing a claim. BUT in most cases, the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay for any settlement or judgment that is awarded. It’s why we have insurance coverage.

3) People who have medical and auto insurance don’t need to file personal injury claims because they’ll be covered. – FALSE

If you have medical and auto insurance coverage that is great, however, it doesn’t mean your losses will be reasonably covered. Your medical insurance likely has a deductible and co-payment requirement that you will have to pay. Also, with the cost of medical care, it is very common for an injured party to not have enough coverage. Even if you have enough coverage for the medical bills, that coverage does not compensate you for lost wages or out of pocket expenses. Further, you are entitled to be compensated to the adverse impact your injuries have had on your life including compensation for “loss of normal life” and “pain and suffering.” Those damages are not covered by your own insurance nor can you obtain compensation for physical scarring, emotional distress, and a host of other damages that can arise.

4) To receive compensation on my personal injury claim I have to go to court. – FALSE

Most personal injury claims are settled between the parties prior to ever filing a lawsuit. Therefore, the court system is not involved and is not being overwhelmed with these types of lawsuits. Even if a court case must be filed, according to The Law Dictionary, about 95% of pending lawsuits end in a pre-trial settlement. Overall, it is estimated that fewer than 1 in 20 personal injury lawsuits filed in court are resolved by a judge or jury.

5) Courts are overwhelmed because of personal injury cases. – FALSE

Myth #4’s answer also pertains to Myth #5, the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled between the parties prior to ever filing a lawsuit. Also, the number of personal injury lawsuits, over time, has dramatically declined. According to the 2015 study, “Civil Justice Initiative” by the National Center for State Courts, since 1999 personal injury lawsuits have declined by 25%.

6) Personal injury claims take a very long time. – False

If you’ve been injured the thought that it could take years to see compensation is an instant turnoff and you might think, “Why bother?” The truth is, most cases are settled long before a judge or jury is involved and those that do go to court average between 2-4 years to be finalized. The circumstances and complexity of your case drive how long it will take, no case is the same so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all timeline. The time it takes to resolve your injury claim can depend on the nature and amount of medical treatment you need. Having VanDerGinst Law on your side can make the process faster, easier and more successful.

7) Holding out longer will get you a larger settlement. – False

While holding out longer may seem like a good idea, it does not necessarily mean you’ll get a larger settlement. As time goes by witnesses disappear and if you wait too long, you may lose your right to make a claim. In some instances, holding out may be the best strategy but it’s best to consult with VanDerGinst Law, to get the most for your claim. This is a more effective strategy than holding out on your own for a bigger paycheck because VanDerGinst Law has over 30 years of experience in personal injury and negotiating settlements.

8) I have to pay my personal injury lawyer up front. – FALSE

VanDerGinst Law operates on a contingency fee basis which means you pay nothing up front and the firm collects no fee unless we win your case. This is a vital service available to everyone, including those that may not be able to afford it otherwise. This method allows for more honest use of the justice system as most attorneys would not take frivolous personal injury claims (see Myth #1) since fees are contingent on getting a financial recovery.

9) I’m guaranteed to get money to cover my losses. – FALSE

The only guarantees in life are death and taxes. While many people do receive some type of compensation, there is no guarantee that you will receive money to cover your losses in a personal injury case and there is certainly no guarantee that you’ll receive “tons of money.” Claims can be complicated and your own negligence, failure to follow your health care providers’ advice, or other events that may arise can impact the likelihood or amount of your recovery. Therefore allowing VanDerGinst Law to help you can make a big difference in the likelihood and/or amount of your recovery. VanDerGinst Law has over 30 years of experience in personal injury and negotiating settlements and can make a HUGE difference in the success of your claim.

10) My lawyer can tell me how much I’m going to get. – FALSE

While your attorney can tell you the types of damages for which you may be entitled to recover, and even general value ranges if he or she tries to give you real numbers before the case is fully vetted, they are doing you a disservice. There are several factors that are considered in the equation. VanDerGinst Law will always be honest with you and will do what it takes to enhance the probability of a favorable outcome to your claim.

11) I can file a personal injury claim anytime. – FALSE

Different states and different situations have differing statutes of limitations. In Iowa and Illinois, the general statute of limitations to file personal injury cases is two years following the accident. However, there are several exceptions to those general rules which may shorten the amount of time you have to file a claim. Additionally, in some situations, there are notice requirements that must be met much sooner than two years. Contact VanDerGinst Law as soon as you are able after the accident and after you’ve received prompt medical care, to make certain you get your claim filed in time.

12) I get more than one chance to be compensated for my personal injury claim. – FALSE

Once a settlement has been reached or a judgment has been entered by the court, you will not be able to revisit your claim. Be sure to make the most of this one chance and obtain VanDerGinst Law to represent you because you won’t be able to go back and make a claim for more.

13) I don’t need a lawyer. – TRUE/FALSE

While you’re not required to have legal representation, you should understand that the insurance companies have teams of lawyers on their side and you only have one shot to obtain compensation for your injuries (see Myth #12). VanDerGinst Law has extensive experience in negotiating with these companies, understands the laws, and knows the important details that the general would have no reason to know about personal injury law.

VanDerGinst Law has advocated for personal injury victims for over 30 years and understands what is true and what is false when it comes to personal injury claims. If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of someone else, we would be honored to help you with your personal injury claim. The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win.  If you suffered an injury contact VanDerGinst Law, P.C. at 800-960-8529. The law is tough and being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.


The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.