Television shows and movies about the law and attorneys often take liberties about how the legal process works. Trials happen quickly, verdicts are returned after a commercial break, and in TV and movie land, justice comes easily. Dramatizations and the media don’t focus on the small details that make up most of civil or criminal cases, which means there’s much confusion and misinformation. That confusion and misinformation can cause clients confusion and frustration when the process doesn’t work as it appears on TV and in the movies.
So, we are dispelling and explaining some of the more common misconceptions about lawsuits.
Myth 1: The frivolous lawsuit story
Everyone’s heard of the McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit. It made big headlines in the 1990s as an example of a frivolous lawsuit – a woman spills hot coffee on herself and makes millions of dollars after suing McDonald’s. Sounds ridiculous, but there’s much more to that story. The victim, Stella Liebeck, suffered third-degree burns over much of her body, including her inner thigs and genitals, and required skin grafts for her injuries. She actually offered to settle with the fast food company, but they offered only $800, which is why the incident moved to litigation.
Remember, the majority of cases that end up in the public eye only show the tip of the iceberg.
Myth 2: My boss can’t fire me without a good reason or without giving me notice first.
Tennessee is an employment-at-will state. This means that either the employer or employee can end the working relationship at any time, without notice, and even without a reason. Technically, your boss can fire you because they don’t like your shirt, your attitude, or your handwriting. Conversely, employment-at-will gives you the right to quit for the same reason.
However – there are exceptions to this rule. You can’t be fired because of anything to do with your membership in a legally protected class of people, which includes:
- Marital status
- National origin
- Sex and gender
On occasion, employees may have a contract that specifies the procedures and conditions under which an employee may be disciplined or fired. If your company violates these procedures, you may have a case.
Myth 3: Any lawyer can handle my personal injury case
Think about it – would you ask your dentist to perform eye surgery? Probably not. When you have an accident and need help with mounting medical bills and injuries, you want an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. Different lawyers have different skillsets. An attorney experienced in personal injury has experience in efficiently and successfully handle these types of matters.
Myth 4: Anything can happen in the courtroom
We’ll admit it – some of the most exciting scenes in television and film happen during a big trial. An attorney is cross-examining the witness and the witness cringes, folds and admits his or her wrongdoing. The judge yells, “Not guilty!” or a jury awards a plaintiff a million dollar verdict and a celebration erupts. Alas, real life is different. Courtrooms run on specific procedures and etiquette, and those rules apply to everyone, including the attorneys, plaintiffs, defendants, and the jury.
Judges don’t appreciate big drama in the courtroom, but remember – you certainly want an attorney with passion for your case.
If you find yourself needing legal representation, talk to the Nashville Law Office of Perry A. Craft, LLC for strong and experienced guidance. Call 615-953-3808 today or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.
Perry A. Craft has dedicated his life to helping people in need. He has tried, settled, or resolved numerous civil and criminal cases in State and Federal courts, and has represented teachers and administrators before school boards, administrative judges, and the state Board of Education. Learn more about Mr. Craft.