Maine Firm Busts 7 Myths About Personal Injury Lawyers

Berman & Simmons and the attorneys who work here have enjoyed a distinguished reputation in our community for more than 100 years. We are widely considered the best personal injury and medical malpractice law firm in Maine.

Our lawyers and staff often find themselves playing the roles of “mythbusters.” Many people have misconceptions or stereotypes about personal injury lawyers. We’re accustomed to hearing these false assumptions and setting the record straight.

Here are some common myths about our profession, and the truths that might surprise you.

MYTH #1: Personal injury lawyers only want the “big payday” cases.

MYTH #2: Personal injury lawyers don’t have time to talk to me.

MYTH #3: If you seek help from a personal injury lawyer, you must be greedy.

MYTH #4: Personal injury lawyers are “ambulance chasers.”

MYTH #5: Personal injury lawyers don’t actually make a difference in the world.

MYTH #6: You don’t need a lawyer, because insurance companies will treat you fairly.

MYTH #7: Personal injury lawyers flood the court system with frivolous lawsuits.

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MYTH #1: Personal injury lawyers only want the “big payday” cases.

Every client is important to our lawyers and staff members. This is because we have always been — and always will be — a firm based on service and the trusting relationships we build with our clients. The motivation for Berman & Simmons attorneys is based on people, not dollar signs.

Yes, high value cases are great. They allow our firm to represent more injured Mainers and to invest needed resources in all of our cases, no matter the size. We are able to pay for the resources needed to win upfront, including accident reconstructions, reports from top medical experts, and other tools to build successful cases — all with the understanding that we may not earn a single cent on the case.

“Injuries do not discriminate. They affect all types of people. All injured clients need and deserve the best possible legal representation,” says attorney James O’Connell, who has been at Berman & Simmons since 2007. “I truly enjoy getting to know my clients, gaining their trust, and standing with them to make sure they are listened to and treated fairly. It is gratifying to be in their corner, because oftentimes we are the only ones there.”

MYTH #2: Personal injury lawyers don’t have time to talk to me.

One of the greatest complaints from clients about lawyers is that they are too busy. They never have time to explain the process. They don’t return calls.

This is not the way we at Berman & Simmons do business. Throughout your case, our lawyers and staff are always accessible, and will take as much time as necessary to answer your questions, understand your concerns, address your fears, and keep you informed about all developments to make sure you feel taken care of. We strive for accessibility and transparency. Our team approach is the key to making this possible.

“We want you to know as much as possible so we can work together to win your case,” says attorney Michael Bigos, who joined the firm in 2003. “If I’m unavailable when a client calls, my assistant, or one of my paralegals is ready to help answer questions and move the case forward. Clients have busy lives, so excellent customer service includes lots of availability, and promptly returning calls, emails or letters.”

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MYTH #3: If you seek help from a personal injury lawyer, you must be greedy.

It is not greedy to seek fair compensation for injuries caused by someone else. Fair compensation is a fundamental right and a cornerstone of our American civil justice system.

As personal injury lawyers, it is our role to fiercely protect and enforce that right, and to make sure you receive full and fair compensation for the harm done to you.

We understand that you may have feelings of guilt or uncertainty about taking legal action against another person, company, or organization. This can be especially true when the person who harmed you is someone you previously held in high regard. We will talk to you about those concerns and help you decide on the best course of action.

MYTH #4: Personal injury lawyers are “ambulance chasers.”

On TV, the movies, and on the Internet, personal injury lawyers are often stereotyped as shameless self-promoters looking to take advantage of victims in their most difficult times. Stereotypes are also promoted by insurance companies and other business interests.

As professionals who care deeply about our clients, and who have dedicated careers to the principles of justice, this is the most offensive kind of insult.

But we understand there are bad apples in every profession. To pretend this is not true would be like burying our heads in the sand. So, how do we know Berman & Simmons attorneys haven’t turned into bad apples? Because of the solid relationships we have with our past and present clients. Most of our new cases still come in the old-fashioned way: through word of mouth referrals. When genuine trust and care for clients are the foundation of your business model, “ambulance chasers” need not apply.

MYTH #5: Personal injury lawyers don’t actually make a difference in the world

When drug manufacturers take safety shortcuts and don’t tell consumers and doctors about the dangers of their products, who leads the charge to hold them accountable?

When corporations dump toxic waste that pollutes public water supplies, who stands up for those who were harmed?

When car and tire manufacturers learn about a defect that is causing dozens of accidents, but decide it’s cheaper to pay settlements to the families of crash victims than it is to recall the tires, who demands they change their ways?

When drunk drivers get behind the wheel and injure innocent victims, who makes sure that those drunk drivers, the people who wrongly serve them, and their insurers pay full compensation for the damage they cause?

From huge class-action cases affecting thousands of victims to the single case that affects just one family, personal injury attorneys make a positive difference every day in people’s lives. We are legal watchdogs, making sure big business and big government do not abuse their power. It’s our role to keep those institutions honest, to see that they put public safety first, and to hold them accountable when they don’t.

MYTH #6: You don’t need a lawyer, because insurance companies will treat you fairly.

Though they try hard to convince you otherwise, insurance companies are not on your side after an accident. They are focused on one goal: maximizing profits. How do they do it? By paying out as little as possible in claims.

In many cases, insurance companies will make unreasonably low offers of compensation to accident victims, while describing those offers as “fair” or even “generous.” They are counting on the fact that most consumers won’t know how much compensation they deserve.

“If they lowball everybody across the board, the vast majority of people will become frustrated, cave in and give up,” says attorney O’Connell.

“The companies realized they can become much more profitable by making the claims process absolutely miserable, not only for the injured person, but also for the person who bought the insurance to protect themselves in the first place.”

Personal injury lawyers turn the tables on insurers, putting you back in charge of the claims process. The personal injury lawyers at Berman & Simmons evaluate insurance company offers and stand up for your rights, making sure you receive full compensation for your injuries.

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MYTH #7: Personal injury lawyers flood the court system with frivolous lawsuits.

This is one of the most often repeated myths in popular culture. Insurance companies and other corporate interests want to paint personal injury lawyers and plaintiffs as greedy and “sue-happy.”

It simply isn’t true. The clients we accept at Berman & Simmons don’t want to get rich. They don’t want to go to court. They are honest people who want justice to be done, validation for what they have gone through, and fair compensation for their injuries.

Our lawyers will not accept cases that don’t have a strong foundation of facts and solid legal arguments. It would be against everything we stand for as a firm to file meritless claims. Not to mention, it wouldn’t be very good business practice. As contingent-fee lawyers, we don’t earn anything unless we win your case, either through a settlement or jury verdict. We wouldn’t stay in business if we filed frivolous lawsuits.

The court system also has several effective checks in place – such as summary judgment in all civil cases, and a screening panel for medical malpractice cases – to weed out frivolous claims. These checks have contributed to a decrease in the number of lawsuits being filed in Maine and nationwide.