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By Jarome Gautreaux

By understanding common misconceptions about personal injury claims, individuals can avoid making mistakes that could harm their chances of receiving full and fair compensation.

Personal injury claims are legal claims filed by individuals who have been injured due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another person or entity. These claims seek to recover compensation for damages suffered by the injured party. Below are 8 of the most common misunderstandings that people have about injury claims:

Misconception 1: You have to go to court to get compensated for your injury.

Actually, most claims settle out of court before a lawsuit is ever filed.

Sometimes, while settlement negotiations are ongoing, your lawyer may file a lawsuit. This usually happens if negotiations have stalled, or if your lawyer is facing a statute of limitations, a deadline, for filing. Even if your lawyer files a lawsuit, it still doesn’t mean your case will go to court. Only about 5% of personal injury cases go to trial.

Misconception 2: Personal injury claims are only for serious injuries.

It doesn’t matter the type or size of injury, if you’ve been hurt by someone else’s actions, and it wasn’t your fault, you may have a personal injury claim. Our office handles cases of all sizes, from big to small, and all types, from back strains to broken bones to traumatic brain injuries to wrongful death.

Misconception 3: Personal injury claims are a quick way to get rich.

Compensation from a personal injury claim is meant to reimburse you for your injury and make you whole again. When considering how much money to pay for a claim, insurance companies will consider the economic and non-economic damages you’ve incurred because of your injury. These include expenses due to medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs. Typically, the worse your injuries are, the higher your compensation will be. This is because you will likely incur higher medical costs, a longer time out of work, and increased pain and suffering, all of which could result in higher compensation.

Misconception 4: You can’t file a personal injury claim if you were partly at fault for the accident.

                Georgia is what’s called a modified comparative negligence state. Simply put, this means that if you are injured in Georgia, and you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, you may still recover compensation for your injuries; However, the amount of compensation may be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. Here’s an example of how comparative negligence works:

  • Helen was injured when she hit a vehicle that pulled out of a parking lot into her lane of traffic.
  • The other driver claimed Helen was speeding. An investigation confirmed that Helen was traveling 5 miles over the posted speed limit.
  • Eventually, it is determined that the other driver is 95% at fault for the accident for pulling out into traffic, and Helen is 5% at fault for speeding.
  • Helen is awarded damages of $100,000 for her injuries.
  • Because Helen was found to be partially at fault, she will only receive $95,000 of her settlement ($100,000 – $5,000, or 5% of the fault assigned to her).

Misconception 5: Personal injury claims are only for car accidents.

Personal injury claims are legal claims filed by individuals who have been injured due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another person or entity.  This includes injuries due to car accidents, medical negligence, defective products, unsafe premises, nursing home abuse or neglect, sexual assault, or injuries in the workplace.  This list is by no means exhaustive. Anytime someone is injured due to another person’s negligence the injured party may be entitled to compensation.

Misconception 6: You can file a personal injury claim at any time.

In Georgia, the statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a personal injury claim is typically two years from the date of injury.  In general, once the statute of limitations on a case has passed, the injured party can no longer file a lawsuit.  Under certain circumstances, there are exceptions to the statute, which would extend or decrease the deadline, but these are exceptions and not the norm. It is always advised to contact a lawyer right away if you’ve been injured so that you don’t miss any deadlines that would be detrimental to filing your injury claim.

Misconception 7: Insurance companies will offer you a fair settlement without a lawyer.

The interest of the insurance company can be very different from the interest of the injured party. The claims adjuster who calls you and acts like your friend works for the insurance company that represents the person responsible for your injuries.  They are looking out for the interest of the insurance company, not your interests. Claims adjusters are experienced negotiators who may use several techniques to get you to agree to a quick settlement for less than you may be entitled to. It’s always advised to consult with an experienced, reputable personal injury attorney before agreeing to an injury settlement with your insurance company.

Misconception 8: You can’t afford a personal injury lawyer.

Most Personal injury attorneys in Georgia do not charge an hourly fee. Instead, they work on a contingency fee basis.  This means that if your attorney wins money for you or settles your case, they will get a percentage of the amount of money awarded. It also means that if they don’t win your case, they get nothing, and you owe them nothing.

In addition, most personal injury attorneys do not expect you to pay expenses while your case is ongoing. Instead, the attorney pays the expenses and deducts them at the end of your case from the money you receive from your settlement or award.  This also means that if they don’t win your case, they are “out” any expenses, and you are not responsible for paying them back.

Macon, Georgia Injuries Attorneys

If you’ve been injured and think you have a case, call our office right away to speak with one of our experienced injury attorneys for free. We can determine if you have an injury case and what your case may be worth.  (478) 238-9758 or (888) 876-6935

About the Author
Jarome Gautreaux is a personal injury trial lawyer. He represents people who have been seriously injured, as well as the families of people killed because of carelessness or negligence. For over 20 years, he has successfully recovered more than 100 million dollars in a variety of Macon personal injury cases. Jarome’s reputation for client focus and case success has led to other lawyers requesting his assistance with complex personal injury litigation. What drives Jarome every day is his strong belief that the amount of money someone has should not dictate the justice they receive. It is for this reason that he has never worked for corporations, insurance companies, or other interest groups. Instead, he thrives on helping the people who need it most- people who have suffered at the hands of others and deserve compensation.