The general public holds a misconception. When some think of a personal injury lawsuit, they think of a money grab. They see a get-rich-quick scheme that can absolve them of a mountain of debt. When I was an undergrad at Penn State, there was a running joke on campus that if a bus owned by the school hit you, you would get free tuition for the remainder of your time at school. But personal injury law isn’t so simple. To get damages in court, you must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that you suffered harm equal to a monetary value.
Impact of Stereotypes
Juries typically provide damage awards. So, when the general public, i.e., a jury of your peers, sees you in court and you are genuinely and seriously injured, the stereotype may harm the reality of your suffering. There is a diverse range of suffering that inflicts damage on personal injury victims. After an injury, beyond the physical pain you suffer, you may be unable to participate in hobbies with your children or loved ones, perform your favorite activity, lose friendships, and more. These are natural and lasting consequences of serious injuries. And the law recognizes them as compensable so long as we can prove the causal link in court. Common misconceptions about the extent of these injuries and their impact on plaintiffs’ lives are pervasive in personal injury cases.
Dispelling of Stereotypes
There are countless reasons why the stereotype that personal injury victims exaggerate cannot be accurate. For one, a jury or judge could snuff it out if they were exaggerating. For as bright as an exaggerating victim would have to be to get away with it, a jury of six or 12 is more intelligent. Moreover, judges see these cases multiple times a day, every day. They have seen bad cases with severe and life-altering injuries; they can differentiate between that plaintiff and one in court for a money grab and nothing more.
But beyond the finder of fact at trial, there is the defense. It is the defense team’s job to pay as little as possible for your injuries. This is what makes our justice system effective. If you have a weak case, they will let it be known to the fact finder and deliver it in a way that will make no jury want to pay you. Of course, we are also very good at what we do. When we take your case to trial, we strategically present your strong case, countering the defense’s efforts to minimize compensation. However, the role of defense in a personal injury case dispels the inaccurate stereotypes involving exaggeration.
The Role of Medical Documentation
As personal injury lawyers, we must prove your damages are legitimate. A valuable tool to do this is your medical documentation. Testimony by your medical providers and medical documentation beginning at the commencement of your treatment is persuasive evidence to a jury. Thus, you must inform your doctor or provider of every detail that ails you due to your injury. It is up to the doctor to relate it to the injury caused by the third party. But the more information the doctor has to work with, the more persuasive your case will be. Not to mention, your doctor cannot treat an ailment he is unaware of.
Ultimately, the role of medical documentation is to support your credibility as a witness in your case. Furthermore, it allows the doctor, who treats countless patients, to testify to your injuries accurately.
The most important thing you can do in a personal injury case is be honest and transparent. You will not gain anything by exaggerating your injuries. We always advise our clients not to exaggerate their injuries but not to minimize them, either. If your injuries are legitimate, you are entitled to compensation. But it is imperative to state facts as they are and be as transparent as possible. A jury of your peers is competent; they are perceptive to your words. Moreover, defense counsel for insurance companies constantly seeks ways to contradict you on the witness stand. If you stand behind precisely what happened, you will generally find success.
An added benefit of transparency is the resulting humility. Juries favor a humble plaintiff. While you have every right to be upset that your life is irreversibly altered due to an injury that is not your fault, people do not respond well to aggression. Remember, your goal is to obtain the compensation you deserve for the damages you suffer. Accordingly, it would be best to speak transparently, not exaggerate your injuries, and display humility.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Our personal injury lawyers have practiced tort law in Washington, D.C., and Maryland for over 70 years. We exclusively handle car accident cases, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, wrongful deaths, and nightclub injury cases. Call today for a free consultation.