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Personal Injury Attorneys Get a Bad Rap

By: Attorney Sherri L. Warfel

Personal injury lawyers have, by a majority of public consensus, a bad reputation in today's society. Insert here cartoon of men in ties with briefcases running after an ambulance. Truth be told, there are some bad personal injury attorneys just like there are some bad policeman or teachers or secretaries or nurses or veterinarians or accountants or CEOs, etc.

Being a personal injury attorney, I could tell some stories of my own. Heck, we could all quote you jokes about my chosen profession. 

But the bad publicity should stop at the water cooler jokes because, the truth is, the bad stereotypes are damaging not only to the profession but the legal system and society as a whole. The America legal system is a vestige of a truly free society. It is a place where private parties can turn in a time of need when the government or other entities are not acting responsibly. The seventh amendment to the constitution allows compensatory redress to those who have been harmed by the negligence of others. That is what the personal injury lawyer's job is about.

People involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck accident, with a defective product, or on an unsafe worksite turn to lawyers every day because they know a personal injury attorney will represent their individual rights not those of an insurance company or corporation. Not only do injury lawyers help in individual cases but the accumulation of cases can ensure people live in a safer world. They force corporations to be mindful of what can happen if they do not treat people in a responsible way. And injury attorneys do this on a contingency basis. They are fronting the costs, expenses and time on a file for people in need risking what is necessary to win for them. 

So where does the negative stereotype come from. The media sometimes shows lawyers in a money hungry light. They publicize verdicts or settlements without the full facts slanting them in a "newsworthy" way making them appear absurd. They suggest that those verdicts or settlements are the norm of all injury attorneys who are just getting over on people and lining their pockets with money when, in reality, they are publishing but a few unusual results. If you have ever sat on one of my juries you would know that I talk to you about evidence and burdens of proof and common law and statutes all of which have thresholds that have to be met in cases to find success.

By the time I am standing before you at trial I have paid the costs for years of litigation and am even paying for it until the verdict comes in. It makes no business sense to any experienced injury attorney to litigate a frivolous claim.  

It also doesn't help that insurance companies and corporations paint injury law firms in a bad light. It is not in their best interest to tell you about the positive things attorneys do, nor point out the negligent things they do. Many may prefer American life without a justice system, without lawyers, without public filings and public light. They do not like to be threatened by lawsuits if they do not follow the law and they are careless and negligent and hurt people. I can file those lawsuits for you because that is what I went to school to do. All lawyers don't make a lot of money and people don't have to be lawyers to make a lot of money. In America, there are several lucrative professions from which to choose. But I chose this profession. I chose to be a lawyer because lawyers stand up for other people for a living. How great is that. In my mind, there is no better profession.   

Learn more about Personal Injury law

About the Author
The author, Sherri Warfel, is a partner who concentrates her legal practice in the area of accident and personal injury law.

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