• By: Hank Stout
  • Published: April 2016

By Hank Stout

There are many common misconceptions about personal injury law and personal injury lawyers. We believe that it’s important to dispel these misunderstandings and set the record straight about how personal injury law can work for you. Below I’ve addressed five common myths about personal injury law.

Myth #1: A personal injury lawsuit is easy money.

There is a commonly-held belief that personal injury lawsuits represent a quick and easy paycheck. People tend to think that personal injury plaintiffs are out to make a buck, and haven’t really been hurt.

In fact, many personal injury plaintiffs have suffered serious or even life-threatening injuries. For many victims of serious accidents, a personal injury lawsuit represents the only way they can get the medical treatment they need to heal. Some personal injury plaintiffs have lost the ability to work as a result of their accident, and need to provide for their families. A court may award such an individual money damages to account for the wages they will lose over time.

If you think that personal injury lawsuits are scams, you might want to consider watching a documentary entitled Hot Coffee. This excellent film discusses the state of the American civil justice system, which is currently under threat by a movement referred to as as “tort reform.”

You may remember one of the main characters in the movie, Stella Liebeck. Stella was an elderly woman who was severely wounded after a cup of McDonald’s coffee spilled on her lap. She filed a lawsuit that got the whole country talking. What you may have come to believe about Stella – that she was trying to rip off a big corporation with a frivolous lawsuit – will likely change after watching this movie.

Myth #2: Personal injury lawyers are unethical and care only about money.

When people think of personal injury lawyers, they often imagine an unethical, fast-talking lawyer in a fancy suit who is out to exploit the suffering of others for his own personal gain.

In reality, many personal injury lawyers are passionate and responsible advocates for their clients. Without personal injury lawyers, many people would not have access to the civil justice system. Personal injury lawyers often take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that they earn nothing if their client doesn’t win.

Reputable personal injury lawyers are nothing like the slimy lawyers portrayed in movies and on television. They are compassionate, respectful attorneys who fight to protect the rights of their clients.

Myth #3: A personal injury lawsuit can be filed at any time.

Many people believe that a personal injury lawsuit can be filed at any time after an accident. This is simply not true.

A procedural rule known as the statute of limitations may prevent a personal injury lawsuit from being heard by a court, regardless of how strong the case is. In Texas, most personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date the accident occurred.

To learn more about how the statute of limitations in Texas works, click here.

Myth #4: Personal injury lawsuits take a long time to complete.

Some people have the mistaken belief that personal injuries take “forever” to complete. This is not the case, and an experienced personal injury lawyer will do everything in his or her power to expedite your case to a favorable resolution.

Many personal injury lawsuits are resolved within a year from the date they are filed. Often, defendants want to settle a personal injury lawsuit before it goes to trial. This can save everyone involved a lot of time and money. Of course, a case may take longer depending on the complexity of the facts and legal issues involved.

Myth #5: Personal injury plaintiffs are guaranteed compensation.

Many people believe that personal injury plaintiffs are guaranteed compensation. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Even if your claims are very strong, and your case is compelling, you might still lose your lawsuit. Some personal injury lawsuits are dismissed for technical reasons (such as the limitations period expiring). Other plaintiffs lose their case because a jury is not convinced the defendant was negligent.

There are no guarantees when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. As such, it is important to hire a personal injury lawsuit with a successful track record to take on your case.

About the Author

Hank Stout co-founded Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm, to protect and pursue the rights of people who were harmed by the carelessness of others. Mr. Stout is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and has been actively trying cases for over fifteen years. In recognition of his accomplishments and results, he has been selected by Thompson Reuters as a Super Lawyer since 2014 (a distinction given to less than 1% of the lawyers in the state of Texas) and has been selected as Lead Counsel. To learn more, read Hank's full bio here.

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