Do I Have A Personal Injury Case?
A question that I frequently get from clients is do I have a case? Most of the time my answer is, “It depends.”
In order to evaluate whether or not a potential client has a case worth investigating, I have to determine
a) what are the injuries?
b) what is the liability?
c) what evidence is needed to prove the case?
d) who is the client?
e) what is the venue and
f) when will the statute of limitations run.
Perhaps the greatest determining factor that I use when deciding whether or not to take a case is the nature and extent of a client’s injuries. When evaluating a client’s injuries, I ask whether they broke or tore a part of their body, whether they need surgery, what is the frequency of their medical treatment, do they have a permanent injury, and lastly, would an objective observer (judge or a juror) find their injuries significant.
Liability means whether or not the person who has wronged the injured person is legally at fault. In order to make this determinatin, I have to figure out if the person who caused the harm had a legal responsibility to the potential client and if so, did they breach that responsibility. When I investigate the details of a claim, I need to decide of the landlord had the duty to make the walkway safe? Did the doctor have a duty to perform a certain test under specific circumstances? Did the motorist who crashed into a someone’s car have a duty to maintain a safe driving distance from that car?
When evaluating a case, I ask what kind of evidence will be needed to prove the case. Is the evidence readily available? How can I get the evidence? What does the evidence that I have now show? Lastly, how hard will it be to prove the case?
Who is the Client
A potential client has to appeal to a jury or judge. Is the client likable? Sympathetic? Can the jury relate to the client?
A venue is the city/borough where a trial is held. Certain venues are better than others. Juries in some venues are known to be very generous where juries in other venues are known to be very conservative. This can make a huge difference in the value of the case and a factor that every personal injury lawyer has to take into account.
Statute of Limitations
How much time do I have to do a proper investigation of the case? How long do I have to institute the lawsuit? Will I have time to do a proper investigation before the time limit for placing the case into suit expires?