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Why do most People think Personal Injury Plaintiffs are Bad instead of Victims?

By Daniel E DAngelo Esq on April 25, 2016

shutterstock_58086832In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff, who was injured in a car crash caused by the defendant’s negligence is the victim. Despite this, why instead is the plaintiff so often not viewed as the victim but someone just out for a quick buck?

No car collision is the same and no one injured in a car crash is the same either. Just as each person involved in a collision is different, each person is affected differently on an emotional and physical level for many reasons. Those reasons are a discussion for another blog post. Basically, this means that the severity of a person’s injuries, their treatment for their injuries, and their damages as a result of their injuries will be different. If this is truly the case, why do so many people ignore these differences and believe most personal injury plaintiffs and their attorneys are all the same and just greedy people who are “gaming the system” to get lots of money they don’t deserve?

There are many biases that personal injury plaintiffs face, but the negative stereotype that is known as the “greedy” plaintiff is one that every plaintiff likely has to face, and big businesses including insurance companies who fight for tort reform are the most likely source or the reason this negative stereotype continues to exist. Tort Reform can be generally described as a means to limit injured victims’ ability to recover for their injuries by statutorily limiting the amount of damages and making it more difficult for the victim to bring legal claims against third parties for their injuries, in essence to benefit the business of those third parties and/or their insurance companies. Tort Reform Truth’s section on Fact vs. Fiction easily explains where much of this stereotype comes from, and although many believe that multi-million dollar verdicts are the problem they are actually very rare. One other argument used by tort reform advocates is there are too many frivolous lawsuits, and many of those same pro tort reform advocates will refer to the McDonald’s Hot Coffee case as an example. If you read my blog post from September 17, 2012, “The Truth about the McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case,” you will learn there was much more to the facts of that case that truly warranted the large verdict against McDonald’s than someone awkwardly spilling hot coffee on their self.

Dividing the general public and making it harder for plaintiffs (victims) to receive judgments that they deserve and need is exactly what insurance companies want. Like it or not, insurance companies exist to make money. We don’t have an issue with that – it’s what businesses do. The problem is when the bottom line becomes more important than treating people fairly by creating or perpetuating the idea in the public’s consciousness that victims in lawsuits are bad or manipulative.

As an attorney, I understand why some of these misconceptions may continue to exist, be it the late night low budget television commercials by attorneys advertising the large sums of money they’ve recovered for others or the television show that features a fictional attorney willing to bend or break ethical rules or the law. However, if you think that all personal injury attorneys are “ambulance chasers” ask yourself the last time you were at the hospital, ER, doctor’s office, or in a ambulance and you ran into a lawyer soliciting clients. Or the next time you scoff at an attorney television commercial remind yourself of the many car insurance commercials that use pure fantasy to market their product by promising to appear out of thin air to protect you or that men disguised as old ladies routinely hide behind your car in a parking lots to swindle you by faking you backed into them when pulling out of your parking space.

The next time you hear your peers discussing personal injury victims and their attorneys as greedy and just out to get a quick buck, take a moment to fill them in on the facts. We’re all on the same side, and it could just as easily be you trying to recoup medical expenses and lost wages someday. Empathy is the key in personal injury situations – you should also consider how it would feel to be in a similar situation. Would you want people to assume you were just trying to make a quick buck? Or would you prefer people take your claims and injuries seriously? Anyone would choose the latter.

If you’re a victim of a car collision – don’t hesitate to find out your rights. Too often people are worried what other people will think of them – leading to undue stress and sometimes even long term medical issues. Reach out to D’Angelo Law today – we do things differently.