As surely as God loves Tennessee football, people will talk about personal injury attorneys. You may hear things like, “Ambulance chasers” or “I bet the lawyers were waiting at the emergency room for the ambulance to unload.” Maybe even, “The hardest thing that lawyer did was getting the fella in the full body cast to sign the contract.” You get the idea.
But is pursuing a personal injury claim wrong? Many will point to the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit as the classic example of a frivolous lawsuit—and why they don’t like personal injury claims. However, a little digging shows another side to the story. Stella Liebeck was a grandmother from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was upfront about it being her fault for spilling the coffee. There are a few things most people don’t know:
- The coffee was heated to 190 degrees.
- She spent eight days in the hospital with third-degree burns to her thighs, groin, genitalia and buttocks. (Third-degree burns go through the dermis and affect deeper tissues. They result in white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.) She had to endure multiple skin grafts to treat these burns.
- McDonald’s had received 700 complaints previously about their hot coffee policy.
- Stella asked for $20,000 to cover her medical expense. McDonald’s offered her $800 instead.
- The jury thought she deserved much more and added $2.7 million in punitive damages. She settled for around $600,000.
- McDonald’s changed the way they heated their coffee after the suit.
After the accident
After traumatic events such as car wrecks and truck accidents, motorcycle and bicycle accidents, defective consumer and industrial products cases, slip-and-fall accidents and premises liability, construction accidents and other work-related injuries, most people do not know what to do to next. Personal injury attorneys help their clients obtain financial compensation for lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses and damages.
What a personal injury attorney does for you
In many occasions, the insurance company will dispute the claim and look to reduce the compensation or deny it altogether. Your personal injury attorney will act as your advocate and help you fight the large insurance company and their team of lawyers. Your attorney will:
- Help you through the maze. Your attorney will help you navigate your way through the complexities of insurance companies and claims, police reports, medical bills and treatments.
- Build your case. Your attorney will gather evidence, examine the police report and evidence, study the relevant law, interview witnesses and discuss the case with you.
- Negotiate. Many cases are settled out of court. Your attorney will make sure you are compensated fairly.
- Represent you at trial. Your attorney will present your case, challenge the insurance company’s evidence and fight for you.
What does it cost?
Personal injury attorneys do not typically receive any compensation unless the injured party is successful in obtaining compensation.
With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can pursue compensation for your injuries and move on with your life again—and there’s nothing wrong with that.