While attorneys try to settle personal injury claims outside of trial through mediation and settlement negotiations, sometimes resolving cases through mediation is not possible. Therefore, before suing, it is necessary to understand the merits of a strong case. The stronger the claim, the more likely the risk of a costly trial is worth it. Ask yourself, “what makes a strong case?” and discuss the risks with your attorney, focusing on four primary determinants.
Before choosing to sue, you need to determine liability. Was the accident your fault? Do you live in a no-fault state? Answering some basic questions can help you determine responsibility and whether there is a need to make a claim. Also, consider your share of the accident. Did you do anything that might have made your injuries worse or the accident unavoidable? For instance, if bitten by a dog, did you somehow provoke the animal?
If you are reasonably certain that the accident was not your fault, then you need to prove your argument. What evidence exists to help you make your claim? Get a copy of any official documents related to the incident – police reports, medical records, photographs, repair receipts, etc. While the evidence may not show conclusively that the defendant is the responsible party, it may help your attorneys lay the groundwork necessary for a settlement.
Besides liability and proof, ensure the defendant has the means to pay any potential settlement or jury verdict. While the accused may have insurance, their policy may not cover the costs associated with your claim. Also, they may not have insurance despite it being a requirement in most municipalities. Without a means of recovery, there is no need to go through with mediation or a trial.
Last, check the statute of limitation on the claim type you are making. While most people sue well within any specified timeline, others cannot file immediately following an event because of emotional and psychological issues, and they may miss their window altogether. For example, in Ohio, a plaintiff filing a medical malpractice claim has only one year to file.
When trying to assess the strength of your case, consider liability, proof, recovery and time. These four determinants help you evaluate the strength of your case. While collecting this information may present a challenge for some, you can reach out to a personal injury lawyer in Deer Park, TX for help. They likely offer a free consultation where they will help you determine if your case is worth fighting.
Thanks to John K. Zaid & Associates for their insight into personal injury claims and how to know if you have a case.