When a client approaches us with the question of whether they have a good case, we must define what it means for a case to be “good.” From our legal perspective, a good case is one in which we have a good chance of making a fair and reasonable financial recovery for our client under the circumstances of his or her case. For people injured as a result of something like a car accident, a fall, or the negligence of another person, this means a monetary settlement that can address their ongoing health complications, pay for medical expenses, loss of wages or potential future income, and overall change in life circumstances.
In order to determine whether a case is good, we must pay careful attention to our clients’ stories, and fully understanding the following three factors: liability, damages, and collectability. Orlando attorney Sam King breaks each of these elements down here:
The first element of a good case is a consideration of liability.
“Was the other party at fault? Is someone else responsible for what happened through negligence or another act? Does the law surrounding the event make someone else legally liable? Sometimes the answers to these questions are quite clear, while other times we must conduct some more research through police reports, medical records, and consultation with the rest of our team,” says King. As many of our friends and clients in the community know, all the attorneys meet every Tuesday morning to discuss cases and offer input to each other. This collaborative process sheds light on cases and helps answers emerge.
The second element is a consideration of damages.
“Are your injuries actually a result of the accident? Can that be easily proven? What economic losses, such as medical expenses and lost income, are associated with the injury? Can the injuries be objectively documented with photographs, x-rays, MRI’s, etc? Alternatively, can the injury possibly be related to a chronic or underlying condition?” continues King. “A client who was badly burned in a house fire will have a much easier time demonstrating that their injuries were caused by this incident, versus someone with chronic back problems whose back is hurt in a car accident. This is not to say the second example is a bad case; it just might be more complicated to prove.”
Your attorney needs to prove what impact this accident has had on your life, physically, financially, and emotionally. What change in circumstances–such as a lost job, PTSD, or ongoing pain–has this incident caused? Again, this evidence may be dramatic and obvious, or it could be more subtle. An experienced attorney will be able to sift through the evidence to determine the extent of your legally collectible damages.
The third element is a consideration of collectability.
“Does the party responsible for causing an accident and injuring a client have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the damages incurred? Does that party have assets that can possibly be pursued in order to compensate the client? Does our client have insurance that could be utilized to pay the damages if the responsible party does not? These are all matters that would have to be determined by us in order to advise our clients if a case can be pursued,” King concludes.
Samuel P. King of Dellecker, Wilson, King, McKenna, Ruffier & Sos is a Board Certified attorney in Orlando, Florida.