The purpose of a legal consultation is for lawyers to sit down with a potential client and review a situation to determine if there is a meritorious case. As lawyers, we know what to look for. We can hear a story and immediately know if there is a legal basis to pursue the claim. For our clients, it is not always so easy. When something like an automobile accident happens to you, it is not always clear if you have a case — or if the case you might have is worth pursuing.
Furthermore, if you do think you have a case, how do you know what kind of case you have? If you were riding a bicycle and were hit by a car, do you need an attorney who specializes in auto accidents, bicycle accidents or both? Do you need to search specifically for “plaintiff” attorneys or will any attorney do the job? These are the types of questions that might go through your head.
All this to say that a typical injured victim should not know the answers to these questions. Lawyers should. The following should give a better idea of how to proceed in answering the following questions.
- How to tell if you have a legal case
- How to know what kind of legal case you have
- How to position yourself up for the best outcome for your legal case
1. How To Tell If You Have A Legal Case
The analysis of every personal injury case first starts with what is referred to as a tort. A TORT, is defined as a civil wrong that causes someone to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act, called a tortfeasor.
To put it simply, a tort is wrongful act that leads to civil legal liability.
Torts are committed in a variety of ways. An unsafe driver who causes an accident has committed a tort. Someone who wrongfully interferes with another’s business has committed a tort. A manufacturer that designs and distributes a dangerous product has committed a tort. A doctor who performed a procedure below the applicable standard of care has committed a tort.
To Evaluate if a Tort was Committed Against You, Ask Yourself These Questions:
- Am I injured or harmed in any way, physically, emotionally or financially?
- Did another person or business entity act in a way that was negligent, intentional or in violation of law (i.e., statute, code or ordinance)?
- Was that wrongful act the cause of your injuries and damages?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions above, you most likely have a case and should seek legal help.
Anyone who has been wronged and has suffered injuries/damages and has the right to prosecute a civil action to recover reasonable compensation based on a valid legal theory of liability.
2. How To Know What Kind Of Legal Case You Have
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you most likely have a civil case. A civil case differs from a criminal case in that there is no government appointed prosecuting attorney and the burden of proof is much different. In a criminal case you must convince a jury ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ of your position while in civil court you must only prove your claim based on a ‘preponderance of the evidence’.
As far as understanding what type of case you have and what type of lawyer to call, these questions can be complex, and, depending on the answer, could dictate a specific time limitation on your case (known as the “statute of limitations”). It is not necessary for you to do the legal analysis to determine what category your case falls into or who the proper defendants are. That is the job o your lawyer. Because of these time restrictions it is of utmost importance that you contact an attorney as soon as reasonably possible.
When it comes to hiring the right lawyer for you, check out our previous blog post about what to look for when choosing a personal injury lawyer. Experience is important, but there are other ways to make sure that you are getting the lawyer you need.
3. How To Position Yourself For The Best Outcome And Maximum Compensation For Your Case
If you do think you have a valid personal injury claim, than any lawyer you hire will want you to do the following:
1) Get Proper Medical Care
If you have suffered any injuries, or even if you think you might be injured, immediately see a doctor. If a doctor is not readily available, immediately go to the emergency room. Sometimes when injuries occur, especially in car, motorcycle or cycling accidents, there is so much chaos and adrenaline that victims might not even realize the full extent of their injuries. It could be days, or in some rare cases, weeks, before physical symptoms manifest themselves. Seeking immediate medical care is the best way to make sure you rule out serious injuries and get started on the most efficient track to a complete physical recovery.
It is also of utmost importance that there is a written medical record documenting the injuries, the treatment, the doctors seen, the prognoses and the medical billing. Having a thorough paper trail and documentation of injuries will allow for your attorney to have a deeper understanding of the injuries you suffered and begin to prepare for the presentation of the injury claim to assure maximum recovery for the injured victim.
One of the most detrimental things one can do to their case is to delay necessary medical treatment. Insurance companies only believe that you are injured if your medical records show a documentation of treatment without any gaps as well as consistent medical care throughout the process. Insurance adjusters and adversary attorneys believe that if you are hurt you go to the doctor, and, alternatively, if you do not go to the doctor, then you are not hurt.
2) Call An Attorney!
Even if you are not sure whether or not you have a case or what kind of case it may be, if you have been injured, and those injuries were, even in part, caused by another, you must contact a qualified personal injury attorney to protect your rights/interests. Many lawyers, ourselves included, will take your call and provide a free consultation and advise you what next steps need to be taken. If you need a more specialized doctor, such as an orthopedist, neurologist, or other needed medical specialists, we can help you find one.
3) Don’t Delay
Any information you give to an adverse insurance company without the representation of an attorney, could have a detrimental impact on your case. We recommend speaking with a qualified personal injury attorney who will guide you and will know how to best help you.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. This blog is not intended to, and does not, create an attorney client relationship, an offer of employment or a guarantee of success for clients of The Drexler Law firm. No information or representation contained in this post should be construed as an offer of employment, guarantee of success or the creation of an attorney client relationship with The Drexler Law firm, nor as legal advice from The Drexler Law Firm or the individual author. No reader of this post should act, or refrain from acting, on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer in the corresponding jurisdiction.
There are time deadlines during which a case must be brought, according to your jurisdiction or state, and failing to abide by the jurisdictional statute of limitation rules can result in your case being time-barred.