The decision to file a personal injury (civil) lawsuit is a big one. When one is hurt by someone else, they usually believe that compensation for their injuries, along with lost wages and pain & suffering, is in order. In many instances they are right, but we always discuss with our clients the following considerations:
Although it may be apparent that the other party was at fault, proving that can be more of a challenge than some clients think. What evidence is available? Are medical or other experts needed to prove the case-in-chief? These and other factors must be considered.
In many cases, the other party has insurance that will cover whatever damages our clients can prove in court. In some instances, we are able to settle a case with the other party or their insurance without the need for experts and time-intensive trials. But sadly, in the modern era insurance companies are far less willing to reasonably haggle a settlement, even though that is often the best outcome for all parties involved. When insurance is not available or inadequate to protect the other party, the other party might be found liable for client damages, then turn around and file bankruptcy; thereby ruining any chance of our client recouping the money they deserve. This risk must also be considered.
In most personal injury cases, including medical malpractice, our law firm takes the case on contingency. That means that we cover the time and effort of the case, then take between 33.33% (in case of a settlement), 40% (in case of having to prep for trial), and 50% (in case of a trial on the merits). Having said that, we ask for our Fee Agreements for client/s to cover incidental expenses, such as filing fee, deposition fees, and expert testimony fees. Although my law firm usually sinks anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 in time and effort for a personal, injury case, which is the lion’s share of costs, our client/s must consider some financial burden to them as well.
Not usually, but in some cases, our clients (if we completely honest) carry some of the blame for what happened to them or their family member/s. That is called contributory negligence and can be introduced at trial as a partial defense to the damages claimed. A thorough and honest analysis is needed to evaluate how big a concern contributory negligence might be for a case going forward.
Personal Injury cases can run months and in some instances years. Our clients are made aware that, should they pursue a personal injury claim, they will have to buckle up for months of casework.
The bottom line is this
We are always pleased to counsel clients on potential personal injury and medical malpractice claims. In many instances, our clients have been hurt and deserve justice by way of financial compensation. We just need to be sure the clients know the challenges of such a case before they ask us to move forward with them through the Justice System.