Personal Injury "Top Myth": I’m GOING TO GET RICH FROM THIS
From Marc G. Snyder's book "Top Personal Injury Myths" copyright 2011
While this myth has already been touched upon, it is important enough to warrant a discussion of its own. Examples like the one above are one of the main reasons our legal system, personal injury lawyers included, have such a poor reputation. A personal injury case is not a lottery ticket. It is not an alternative form of employment and it is not to be counted on as a bridge to being “set for life." Anyone who believes this myth and is pursuing their case with the idea of getting rich is setting themselves up for almost guaranteed frustration and disappointment. There are several reasons why this is so. First of all, the economics of most cases do not provide for recovering much more than what is needed to put someone in the position they were in before the incident took place. Even when additional damages for “pain and suffering" are included, they must be reasonably related to the actual damages (medical bills and related expenses) in the case. There is no specific definition for what is considered “reasonably related" but almost every court has not allowed such an award to exceed a five or six to one ratio, pain and suffering to actual damages. Therefore, any case where the total damages run into the millions most assuredly involves significant medical expenses, lost wages, or both. In a maryland personal injury claim there are 3 factors that make up the ability to recover, and recover properly: Liability- Is the other party 100% at fault for the accident. If you are reading this book, it is likely that they are. If you have hired an attorney who has accepted your case, it is most likely that they are. Damages- As described in some of the previous chapters, the monetary value of your case is largely determined by the damages, or injuries you sustain. Bad accidents with serious injuries could be worth big money, but you need to ask yourself if you’re really going to enjoy spending money if you are permanently injured, lose a limb or even worse. Insurance- This is the factor that is hardest to guarantee. There are a significant amount of drivers that do not carry more than the minimim limits to their liabily coverage. If you do not carry significant insurance coverage to protect you, you may not be able to recover properly. A colleague recently recieved a $3,000,000 verdict in an auto accident case. Due to insurance limits, they will recover only $50,000.00. Moreover--some of our most valuable cases, auto accidents that are worth half a million dollars or more, are largely the result of significant wage loss, often due to a permanent injury. Wage loss in injury claims is not subject to pain and suffering, and is paid in a dollar per dollar ratio. The last case in which my office settled for a million dollars, most of the settlement money was a result of wage loss. Since that meant the client would not be earning wages over a significant length of time, that settlement money merely replaced money they would have earned otherwise. This can hardly be considered “getting rich."