Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Pursuing a Personal Injury Case
Personal Injury cases can arise out of car accidents, slip and falls, and other incidents that aren’t your fault. These injuries can result in costly medical bills, time off work, and other expenses that you might not be prepared to handle. However, oftentimes clients feel a sense of guilt about coming forward with a personal injury case. You shouldn’t feel this way if you have a legitimate claim. If you have been injured, you deserve compensation- and here’s why.
The Societal Stigma Against Personal Injury Cases
In the United States, being litigious is seen as a negative quality. Therefore, many of those who have been injured are reluctant to file a case because they don’t want to be seen as litigious. Personal injury claim detractors often cite cases of litigants who “foolishly” burn themselves with hot coffee and receive millions from large companies. The most famous of these cases is that of a woman named Stella Liebeck, who was burned by a cup of hot coffee from McDonald’s in 1992. She suffered third degree burns in her groin area after the coffee she was served was so hot that it actually warped the cup it was served in, causing her to spill on herself. She initially requested $20,000 as a settlement to cover her medical expenses. McDonald’s countered with a disrespectful settlement amount of $800. The then 72-year old hired an attorney to help recoup her losses. At that time, McDonald’s had previously settled more than 700 other hot coffee cases.
When jurors heard her story, and of McDonald’s repeated disregard for the safety of its customers, they ordered for McDonald’s to not only pay for her medical expenses (known as “compensatory damages”) but also millions in “punitive damages.” Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant. The jurors felt that McDonald’s needed to be sent a message to McDonald’s, since it didn’t seem to get the message the first 700 times. Because McDonald’s is such a large company, the punitive damages needed to be extraordinarily high to make a mark. Although the award was later reduced, McDonald’s eventually engaged in an aggressive campaign to paint Liebeck as a litigious miser who sued them out of greed. So if someone says you shouldn’t pursue a personal injury claim with this logic, know that an elderly woman suffered third degree burns due to McDonald’s negligence, and they then harangued her with a media campaign to taint her reputation.
Feeling Sorry for the Defendant
Whether you were in a car accident or you slipped and fell in a negligently-maintained store, you may feel bad for the driver or business owner and not want to file a claim against them. Anyone who drives is required by law to have insurance coverage, and business owners typically have insurance coverage for these types of claims as well. Would you rather pay out of pocket for their mistakes, or have their insurance provider, that likely profits each year in the millions, pay for your troubles? You and your family don’t deserve to suffer for someone else’s mistakes, especially when there is a third party with deep pockets that exists to pay these expenses for you.
Justice for You and Your Family
As mentioned above, there are both compensatory damages, which cover the actual expenses arising from your case, and punitive damages, meant only to punish the defendant for its misconduct. Punitive damages are rarer than compensatory damages, but there are many types of compensatory expenses that you deserve to be awarded. Time off work and medical expenses are common, but you also deserve financial compensation for your pain and suffering. Arizona is a comparative negligence jurisdiction, which means that even if the accident was partially your fault, you can pursue a claim. For example, if you have an accident that results in $100,000 of expenses, but your were 30% at fault, you can still receive $70,000 for your claim. You still need to keep food on the table, so don’t let anyone feel that you don’t “deserve” to file a personal injury claim.
If you have suffered an injury and need to file a claim, we’re here to help. Our experienced attorneys can expertly handle your claim and achieve the best possible result for your case. Even better, we offer consultations free of charge to discuss whether you have a case, what the process will be like, and the likely outcomes. When you’re ready to get started, we’re ready to help. Call and schedule your free consultation today.