(noun, derogatory): a lawyer who specializes in bringing cases seeking damages for personal injury.
As attorneys we have thick skin. Unfortunately, characterizing personal injury lawsuits as “frivolous” and characterizing personal injury attorneys as “ambulance chasers” does hurt; it hurts people who are injured through no fault of their own and would most benefit from pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. Misinformation spread through political and corporate influences have long distorted the lens through which the public views litigation, and attendant value judgments associated with certain high-profile lawsuits. One classic example is Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald%27s_Restaurants), a dispute where general public perception is completely at odds with the actual facts of the case. The cultural acceptance of this negative mindset has an impact in the real word; every day there are individuals with meritorious claims who are dissuaded from pursuing the compensation they are entitled to due to internalized biases against litigation.
Even in the most impactful of cases, such as injury survivors and the families of fatal accident victims, most people do not take personal injury lawsuits lightly at all. In fact, many of them are reluctant to pursue a valid claim because they do not want to cause problems for anyone else. Imagine that. Worrying about others at a time when they face immense physical, emotional and financial damage as a result of someone else’s negligence.
A car accident may happen in an instant, but the damage it inflicts can lead to a lifetime of expensive and painful consequences. A personal injury lawsuit is the remedy our civil justice system provides to make sure that the injured are not left to bear the burden of someone else’s negligence. A personal injury lawsuit is often the most efficient way to make sure that the injured have access to insurance funds for their medical bills, their pain and suffering, their lost wages, and other accident-related damages.
The truth is that truly frivolous lawsuits almost never make it past the first step in the process: the initial consultation. When we decide to take a case it is because we believe that someone has truly suffered through no fault of their own and needs the legal system to help make them whole again.
If you or a loved one is ever injured due to someone else’s negligence, don’t hesitate to assert your rights. Speaking to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is the first step in determining the best path for recovery.