If you've been injured through no fault of your own, you may be wondering whether you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages from the responsible party. Before you contact an attorney about pursuing a claim, you need to consider three important questions to determine whether you doing so would be in your best interest.
1. How strong is my case?
The first thing you need to consider when contemplating an injury claim is how good your case actually is. This means determining whether your case has the required elements for filing a lawsuit. For example, if you were injured by a faulty product, you may be able to file a product liability claim. Product liability claims are based on three theories of law:
- Strict liability
- Breach of warranty
A claim based on negligence requires the plaintiff to prove that the product's manufacturer owed a duty to the consumer to prevent injury and that an injury occurred because of the manufacturer's breach of this duty. A strict liability claim requires the plaintiff to prove that a product was defective and unreasonably dangerous when it left the manufacturer and that the defect caused injury to the victim. Breach of warranty claims involve a product whose warranty implies it is safe but whose defect results in an injury to consumers.
You also need to ensure that you have the necessary evidence to prove your case. This could include police reports, medical records, photographs of the accident scene, photographs of your injuries, written communications with your insurance company, witness statements, etc. If you don't have proper documentation to prove your version of events, you case could potentially be dismissed.
2. Do I need to sue?
Depending on the circumstances of your injury, attempting to resolve the dispute outside of the courtroom may be more beneficial to all parties involved. For example, if your injuries were caused in a car accident, you may find it easier to deal with the other driver than attempting to go through the insurance companies. Keep in mind, however, that doing so may compromise your ability to file an injury claim later on if your negotiations are unsuccessful. Even if you decide not to file a claim, you should consider consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine your best course of action.
3. Will I be able to recover damages if I win my case?
Another important factor to consider before filing an injury claim is whether you can actually expect to receive any compensation in the event that you win your case. This is particularly true if you're dealing with an individual versus a business or government entity. When you obtain a judgment against someone, you're responsible for enforcing the court's ruling in order to actually get the money you're owed. This could involve pursuing a bank account or property lien or filing a wage garnishment order. If that person lacks sufficient funds to pay the judgment, you can renew the order periodically but there is no guarantee as to when you will be able to collect. If the individual files bankruptcy, he or she may be able to discharge the debt without paying.
If you answered 'no' to any of these questions, you may need to reevaluate whether filing an injury lawsuit is worth your time and effort. If you do decide to pursue a lawsuit, seeking the aid of an experienced personal injury attorney can help you to safeguard your legal rights.