It’s no secret that personal injury attorneys have a bad reputation in our society. We have all heard the stereotypes and jokes about those “ambulance chasing” lawyers: that we take advantage of vulnerable people for our own personal gain, that we chase ambulances looking for our next payday, and that we will do any shady or underhanded action in order to get paid.
These stereotypes are not only false, but they are damaging to our legal system. The legal system is what people should turn to in their time of need. And truth be told, the vast majority of injury attorneys help their clients get the compensation they deserve. People that are hurt in a car accident, personal injury, or injured by a defective product turn to accident lawyers every day.
So where do these negative stereotypes come from? Primarily they come from popular media that is largely influenced by the insurance company’s tort reform agenda. TV shows, the news, and movies very often show lawyers in the worst light possible: greedy and vindictive. Danny DeVito’s character in “The Rainmaker” is an excellent example. He is an incompetent and unethical attorney who frequently visits people in hospitals in order to drum up business.
In addition, the negative stereotypes come from lawyer advertisements themselves. Many of these ads make it seem that lawyers are money hungry and that they convince people that they need an attorney to recover millions of dollars in even the most pedestrian of injury accident cases. Also, it looks as if the clients are judged by their settlement amount, and not as a person. However, these money hungry attorneys are the minority. Most personal injury attorneys do not treat their clients as meal tickets.
Not only do injury attorneys help their clients in their time of need, but their work ensures that people live in a safe environment and society. Negligent corporations and people are mindful that they may be required to pay civil damages if they decide not to act reasonably and safely. Personal injury attorneys are also responsible for ensuring that local, state, and federal safety laws and regulations exist to protect the public at large. These laws were enacted in response to damaging negligent behavior and they ensure that people stay healthy and safe when using products that are designed and manufactured to be safe.
I can see why people believe the worst about personal injury attorneys since negative stereotypes are all around them. Certainly the lawyers do not help themselves and all it takes is “one bad apple spoils the entire bunch.” Unfortunately, while you almost always learn about the immoral attorney who stole their client’s money in the news, you almost NEVER hear about any of the positive things attorneys do for their clients-including working pro bono for causes the attorneys believe in or reducing their fees to ensure that their clients receive all the justice they deserve. While it is true that some injury attorneys are greedy and self-serving, the vast majority genuinely care about their client’s rights and are strong advocates for their clients.
Of course what is often ignored is that the primary push behind these negative stereotypes are corporations and insurance companies that hope to use these bad public images to their advantage. They try to say that injury lawyers and their clients are the antagonists trying to benefit from a lawsuit lottery, and the attorneys are trying to benefit from their client’s misfortunes. However, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to do what we do and many attorneys chose to work with injured people because they want to help people.
There may be a time in everyone’s life when they are faced with a situation that they will consider hiring a personal injury attorney. Remember that there are many injury attorneys out there that will fight hard for you. You are not, and should not be just another number or paycheck for your lawyers.You are an individual with your own worries and hopes about your case. You deserve to be treated with respect by a personal injury lawyer who appreciates having you as a client.