You are thinking about suing someone. Maybe you were in a car accident or you suffered an injury during a surgery that you believe was your doctor’s fault. The injuries you suffered may have left you with mounting debts and growing medical bills. You may also have significant property damage that you need to fix. How do you get the person responsible for your injury to pay for these costs?
Do you have a case and can you sue someone? Before you go to court, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
1) Have you talked to your insurance company?
You may not need to sue if your insurance company works with you and provides compensation. Often, it is required in some cases like a car accident to contact your insurance first. It is still advisable to seek legal help to negotiate with insurance on your behalf. The goal of the insurance company is to pay as little as possible. A lawyer can help you get a larger settlement from them.
2) Have you tried to settle out of court?
Before the litigation process, some courts require the parties to try to settle the dispute out of court. This can be between lawyers or you could utilize the services of a paid mediator or arbitrator. These are unbiased third-parties who hear both sides of the case and help everyone come to an understanding. The final document is signed by both parties and can be a legally binding contract.
3) Where are you going to sue?
What happens if you are in a car accident in a different state? You will more than likely need to hire a car accident lawyer in that jurisdiction. While you may not need to appear to file a suit in that state, you will still need to be involved in the case. However, you should be prepared to be available in the area for preparation and trial.
4) What kind of case do you have?
You were injured, so you know that you probably have a personal injury case. To file in court, you must have a cause of action. This means that something happened to you that can be proven on legal grounds in court. To do this, you and your lawyer will need to prove that all of the legal elements are met for what you are claiming. The easiest way to do this is to consult with a lawyer who can go over the facts and let you know if you have a case or not.
5) What is the size of your case?
If your injury was minor or damage to property was not severe, your case may be too small to pursue in through a full lawsuit. While this is state-dependent, usually if you are asking for $5,000 – $10,000 or less you can file with small claims court. In this court, you would present your case before a judge and they would render a verdict. This can be significantly less expensive than filing a lengthy lawsuit.
6) Will you be able to collect damages?
Damages are the amount of compensation a court will award you if you win. Before you file a case, you need to be certain that you have a good enough case to possibly collect the damages you are seeking. There is a possibility that you have a great case but the court will not award you all the compensation you need to pay for court fees plus other bills you have like medical and property damage costs. If you’re in a situation like this, a personal injury lawyer may decide not to take your case.
7) Do you have the resources to file a lawsuit?
Litigation can be expensive. There are lawyer’s fees and court fees. Money may also be needed to collect medical documents or get expert witnesses to testify. It can also take a lot of time to prepare for the case. If you are a busy person and your injury is small, it may not be worth it to file a lawsuit.
8) Do you actually want to file a lawsuit?
You may have a great case. You may have the funds to pay for a lawyer and other court costs. However, do you really want to go through the legal process? It can be mentally and physically draining. It can also be stressful. Most court cases will also become public records that can be viewed by anyone. You must be able to figure out if this is something you really need to pursue.