Lies about “people who sue”
One of the most common worries I hear from people who call me is one of the following: “I’m not a person who sues,” “I’m not one of those people who just…”, “That’s not me,” “I don’t want to sue.”
I want to kick off this blog series by knocking down some of the common misconceptions about personal injury plaintiffs, otherwise known as “people who sue.” The fact is this: Every single one of my clients is someone who was genuinely injured by a person or an entity that did not act responsibly. Not one of my clients wanted to be in the situation they were in. They wanted to live their lives pain-free, trauma-free, unharmed.
Now, let’s take a few of the lies that you may have heard yourself about personal injury clients.
Lie #1: They’re litigious and greedy.
If they could, all of my clients would rather wind back time and have their health back than pursue a legal case, possibly for years, in hopes of getting justice and compensation for the monetary, physical, and emotional harms they have suffered. Most clients have never been part of a lawsuit before and are scared and intimidated. They wish they didn’t have to go through any of that. They don’t want others to think badly of them. They don’t look forward to insurance lawyers calling them liars in court. By the time my clients decide to file a lawsuit, they are coming to that decision because all other hope and options for having their medical bills, lost income, pain and physical limitations compensated have been closed off. By the time my clients decide to sue, they do so knowing that a lawsuit is their only chance for justice. Given the uncertainty, delay, and intimidation, many people making that decision, and going through the civil lawsuit process experience, the far easier, and more self-serving option, would be to drop the pursuit of justice and leave that fight for the next person who gets hurt. Pursuit of justice through the courts is falsely portrayed as greedy only by the insurance companies and wrongdoers who hope to keep the money that they rightfully owe. The burden and cost of this particular lie, like the cost of all the valid claims that do not pursue what is fair, is on the next person who gets hurt and cannot get full compensation without fighting for it for years. People just like you.
Lie #2: They take advantage or are opportunistic
Many people, perhaps you included, have an image in their head when they picture “someone who sues”. Do you have the same image in mind when you picture someone who is the victim of a crime? If those two images are different, you may have an unconscious bias against plaintiffs, like many people do. Both people have suffered harm. But society and our institutions, like insurance companies, treat them differently and enforce a double standard. Insurance companies are motivated to pay less than they should, and they are too big to care even a little bit about what that does to you or people you care about. That is why people sue. They are not taking advantage of an unfortunate accident or a mistake. They are simply trying to get compensation for what was taken away.
When I had property stolen from my office many years ago, my insurance company quickly issued payment, no questions asked. I didn’t have to prove that it was stolen with security footage or how important it was to me or that I did everything I could to prevent it being stolen. But for my clients who have been injured in a car crash that was clearly someone else’s fault, we will have to jump through all of the hoops and fight every step of the way to prove the crash really was their insured’s fault, that our client is truly injured, that our client did the right things to get treatment, that our client did not get too much treatment, and so on. The insurance companies, in their never-ending quest to pay less than full value of the damage done, attempt to set up the three bears test on every aspect of an injured person’s response to an injury. Every bit as much as the attempt to lie about the motives of people who have to sue to get a fair outcome, this is yet another attempt to put the injured person on trial. Insurance companies and the people and institutions they pay do not want anyone thinking about what the trial is actually about: wrongdoing, loss, and harm, for which they are financially responsible. They might as well point in any direction but themselves and shout “Don’t look at us! Look over there instead!”
Lie #3: Their suit for justice harms society
The audacity of someone who sues to get compensation for a harm they have experienced! Again, let me point out that we do not say this about crime victims. (Some of whom also, rightly, become plaintiffs to get a form of justice from a civil case and a jury that criminal courts cannot provide – think about the families of Nicole Brown-Simpson or of the victims of sexual abuse, like those in athletic or academic institutions.) We do not say, “oh, the audacity that robbery victim has, seeking justice after that robbery! Think of the cost and harm to society. Other people will want to seek justice for other crimes, and it will just be more costly. Our taxes may go up. There may be new security cameras in the neighborhood.”
It sounds silly, right? We would never take away crime victims’ right to face the person who did them harm or the need to have a system for accountability to ensure that other criminals aren’t out robbing people with zero consequences. We would probably view a perspective like the above as a distraction from the criminal – the person who is really responsible for the cost, both societal and personal. And yet, for people who have experienced an injury because of someone else’s negligence, this is exactly the narrative, and the narrative that many of my clients come to me with themselves!
The reality is, civil lawsuits, just like criminal lawsuits, are about justice and accountability for carelessness that causes harm. In many cases, lawsuits ensure that further harm is not done. Lawsuits have helped to contribute to safer products, innovations, and better consumer protections, and they motivate individuals and business owners to not just not do anything criminal, but also do their due diligence to keep those around them from harm.
Stay tuned for future blogs debunking lies about plaintiffs. Do not let these lies become a distraction, a “hey, look over there!” tactic to distract your attention from the true cause of injuries and harm, and the entities who try to stand in the way of getting justice. The pursuit of fair outcomes and accountability benefits all of us. Lies about people who show the courage to go through that long and difficult process serve insurance companies at the expense of everyone else.
If you have been injured by someone else’s carelessness, you could use someone who will fight for you. Call Vern Ready as soon as possible. I will fight to get you the best possible outcome. Your consultation is always free and you are under no obligation to do anything but discuss your options. Call 303-339-8846 to get help. You can also schedule your free consultation with me at my office or on Zoom/Facetime/Webex by clicking here.