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Misperceptions of Personal Injury Victims

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It seems like every time I meet with a client I hear the same thing, “I’m not out to get rich so I don’t know that I need a lawyer,” or “I’m just not the suing type.”

There seems to be a public perception that all personal injury plaintiffs are “out to get rich quick.”  This perception has been ingrained in our culture and it has affected real people who feel guilty that they are sitting in a lawyer’s office after they were injured through no fault of their own.

Businessman busy with documents with his colleagues in the background

So let me set the record straight, none of our clients are “the suing type” or “out to get rich.”

In fact, most if not all, of our clients want to avoid hiring a lawyer and they certainly want to avoid court. Most of our clients do not realize that they are entitled to more than just their medical expenses. By asking a jury for more than the medical expenses, this does not mean that the injured victim is “out to get rich.”  Rather, it means that the victim is pursuing relief permitted by law.

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The law permits a victim of a personal injury to recover for compensatory damages. Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages would include medical expenses, lost wages and mileage. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience and loss of earning capacity, to name a few. If you are honest, these non-economic damages are actual harms and losses suffered by personal injury victims. I blog about the types of damages in Virginia here.

These damages compensate victims of negligence for that which they have lost. So the perception that one will “get rich” from an award of compensatory damages is flawed from the outset. Rather, these damages are intended to make the victim whole—to replace that which was lost—that is why they are categorized as compensatory (i.e. they compensate the victim for his or her harms and losses). Certainly, you will never get back those days you suffered through in pain, so you cannot be “actually” made whole. While common sense will tell you that they law can’t give you those days back, the law can give you monetary damages. To the extent that you suffer emotionally and physically, the law provides for you to recover financially. There is no other viable option.

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The insurance company’s adjusters are professionals. They do this day in and day out. This is likely your first, maybe second, experience with a car wreck. The adjuster will fight for the insurance company, but who will fight for you? Shouldn’t you have qualified and professional representation, just like the insurance company? If you have been injured in a car wreck, don’t feel ashamed that you are forced to seek legal counsel.

Our goal is simple, to help folks who were injured through no fault of their own recover from their injuries emotionally, physically and financially so that they can resume living a healthy and fulfilling life.

Posted by Brandon S. Osterbind, Esq.