Ask any personal injury lawyer and they will tell you the number one question asked of them is “Can I sue?” Coming in a close second is “Do I have a case?” Both questions miss the mark, however, as the real question that accident victims should be asking is “Do I have a case worth pursuing.”
The answer to “Can I sue?” will always be “yes.” You pretty much can sue anyone, for almost anything. The answer to “Do I have a case?” will always be “maybe.” A lawyer will only pursue a case if it makes economic sense to do so. If there is no payoff for the client (and hence a fee) at the end of the road, lawyers will not invest their time, money and effort into such a case.
Many people understand the concept of negligence. Someone or something has caused them harm; that person or thing is in the wrong and must pay. What a good many people do not understand is the concept of damages.
Damages are the injury or harm a victim suffers as a result of someone’s negligence. Damages are “compensatory” in nature. They are an attempt of make the injured party whole. Damages can be for pain and suffering, property loss, medical bills, loss of income, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment. Without some form of damage, there can be no case.
So how do lawyers determine if a case is worth pursuing? There are a number of factors that they will look at. Firstly, is there provable negligence (fault) against someone? That is the threshold question. Secondly, did that negligence cause the victim any damages (injury)? Thirdly, are the damages sufficiently high to warrant a lawyer’s involvement?
There is also one other factor that some lawyers, especially young, newly-admitted ones, tend to overlook. I call it the fourth and deciding factor. DOES THE NEGLIGENT PARTY HAVE THE MEANS TO PAY DAMAGES? It does no one any good if a negligent party causes serious injury to someone, the lawyer gets a large judgment against that negligent party… but the negligent party has no insurance, no assets, no job, no nothing!
So now you know. If you are asking a lawyer about a potential case, either by phone or online, the question to ask is, “Do I have a case worth pursuing?” This will get the lawyer’s attention and give you instant credibility as a well-informed potential client.