The fear of failure in challenging or uncertain situations is experienced by most of us. The fear of failure can even be considered a healthy, normal response to endeavors which involves risks and large commitments of time or money.
How does the fear of failure intersect with clients who consider pursuing personal injury cases? You may be surprised to learn that your fears are shared with many – even most – clients who have been injured because of the negligence of another.
If you are dealing with extreme or debilitating fear of failure, there are steps that you can take to overcome this fear. A Harvard Business Review article quotes author and investor Tim Ferris who recommends making a “fear list.” This includes creating a checklist of what things you are afraid of and what you fear will happen if you do those things. In other words, make a list of worst-case scenarios and examine them in the broad light of day. In his Ted Talk “Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals,” Ferris explains how examining his own personal worst-case scenarios resulted in some of his biggest successes.
To face your unique worst-case scenarios, we recommend that you write them down and discuss them with an experienced accident injury lawyer near you. A free initial consultation is an ideal opportunity to examine your fears with someone who has an impartial and professional perspective. The initial consultation will help you decide if the risks of failing outweigh the potential gains of pursuing your case.
Some of your worst-case scenarios will be unique to your situation, but we’ll walk through the most common fears that stop deserving clients from pursuing a personal injury claim. Your lawyer will be able to put your mind to rest as you discuss any of these common fears.
Your lawyer won’t be surprised if you ask about these fears at your initial meeting, or any time thereafter. These are common, normal, valid concerns. It makes sense that you’d want solid answers before engaging in a lawsuit.
1. Fear of losing face
“What if I sign up for a free initial consultation, and the lawyer finds my case ridiculous? I can’t stand it when people are condescending. I don’t know enough about the law to know if I have a case or not.”
2. Fear of becoming a ‘sucker’
“I see billboards all over for Las Vegas car accident attorneys trying to drum up business from regular folks like me. It would be nice to get some financial help with the medical bills from my accident, especially for my family’s sake, but I don’t want to become a pawn in the hands of a lawyer who will blow up my case just to try to make a buck.”
3. Fear of losing money
“I know the initial consultation is free, but what about everything after that?”
4. Fear of adding stress to an already stressful situation
“I know there will be layers of decisions, meetings, and paperwork. By the time the case is decided, it might have been easier just to pay the medical bills, find a new job, and get on with it.”
5. Fear of having my part in the situation brought to light
“I will need to tell the car wreck lawyer that even though the accident was mostly out of my control, I should have been wearing a seatbelt, and I shouldn’t have been in that part of town in the first place.” ( Or, “my car’s registration should have been current,” etc.)
Fears Involved with Settling a Case
The vast majority of lawsuits brought by personal injury and wrongful death attorneys end with a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement, usually between the injured person (or the family of the deceased) and the culpable insurance company or institution, finalizes a certain amount of money (a “settlement”) that will be transferred to the harmed party to cover the costs of the injury.
1. Fear that I am accepting a low-ball settlement offer.
“I’ve heard that getting insurance companies to pay a fair settlement is as difficult as bull riding in a rodeo. I don’t want to take a low-ball offer just because I’m new at this.”
2. Fear that my pain and suffering will only be taken into account if the case goes to trial.
“I’ve heard that going to trial is the only way to get intangibles – like my pain and disfigurement – figured into the compensation total. Won’t settling my case leave me with less money overall?”
3. Fear that I haven’t gathered all the information and something comes to light after settling.
“I fear getting pressure to settle before I’ve fully recovered from my injury. What if the healing process doesn’t go as hoped? What if other costs appear in the coming months and years?”
Fears Involved with Going to Trial
If a settlement agreement cannot be reached between parties, then a case goes to trial. Going to trial increases the likelihood of a larger reward for the claimant, but this possibility comes at a cost.
1. Fear that I will lose my case.
“I think the settlement offer is on the low end, but there are no guarantees with going to trial. What if I let go of the settlement offer in favor of going to trial? I might be awarded less than the settlement offer, or my case might be thrown out.”
2. Fear that my case will be thrown out entirely, in which case I would be responsible for the opposing party’s legal costs.
“The settlement is unacceptably low, but there are so many variables with going to trial that I might end up with nothing at all. What if my case might be thrown out on a technicality? Paying for the opposing party’s fees would bankrupt me and my family.”
3. Fear that taking a case to trial, instead of settling, will cause the case to drag on for another year.
“I want to take my case to trial, but does that mean my case will drag on for another year or more? Is it worth it?”
4. Fear that taking a case to trial, instead of settling, will cause the legal fees to raise high enough that there won’t be enough left for me after paying my lawyer.
“I’ve heard that trials usually end up with higher compensation awarded to people like me, as opposed to settling, but will all the extra compensation disappear into legal fees?”
If consulting with a lawyer does not ease your mind and reduce your fear of failure, then you haven’t found a great match yet. Your lawyer should have clear, satisfying, common-sense answers to any of the fears listed in this article, as well as any fears unique to you and your situation. Consulting with an experienced, licensed lawyer should take away some of the fear of failure that normally accompanies first-time claimants.