At the Law Office of Michael R. Herron, we appreciate this question, because it means that you are trying to decipher whether or not you have a case you should pursue.
Rather than assuming you do, you’re taking the first major step in learning more about how lawsuits work, and what your legal rights are. There are dozens of ways to answer this question, and we are going to offer up as many answers as possible without knowing your specific situation.
When You Probably Don’t Have a Case
Not all incidents will warrant a lawsuit, and it might be useful to identify those before getting into various reasons where you actually do have a case. When we have been wronged or injured, we often look to place blame on other parties. This is a normal human response, but it’s not always an accurate one.
The truth is, litigation can be a long and expensive journey, and you’ll want to be sure that the mission is worth the wear and tear on your life. If you end up breaking even after 2 years of courtroom battles, will that suffice? Here are some factors to take into consideration when you’re thinking about suing another party.
Evaluate the Merits of Your Case – What actions are involved and what role did the other party play in your incident? If someone was simply “there” when the accident happened, this doesn’t mean they were responsible. Similarly, if you tripped and fell over your own feet at a bar, the owners of that bar are probably not the reason why you fell. Be honest with yourself and consider the other party’s role.
Seek Out Information on Case Compensation – A lawyer can help you with this, but a thorough google search is a great place to start. Do some homework to see the average compensation for a similar case. Will that dollar figure be worth all of the time and money you spend seeking justification for your claim? Stack those costs against the details of your case and consider whether or not the value is really there.
Evaluate What Evidence You Have – Lawsuits require evidence and that evidence needs to be clear, concise and hold up when cross-examined. Your claim of what happened, or even your medical records on their own, won’t be enough to lay the blame on someone else. Consider the strength of your evidence before pursuing a suit.
A Countersuit – Another good point to factor in is if you feel the other person/entity might have cause to turn around and counter-sue you. When this happens, the other party will use evidence of their own to critically disprove your legal case against them. Do they have proof that your story doesn’t add up? Is there a chance there are witnesses that can back their story? Might there be images or surveillance video that might hurt your case? This recently happened in a case in the Northeast when a man tried to file a lawsuit for slipping and falling. He didn’t know there was surveillance footage of him faking the incident.
Can You Collect on the Claim if Your Win – This might seem like a strange question because if you win, of course, you can collect. Right? Wrong. You can win a case, but if the other party has no way of paying you damages, it might be a moot point to pursue a claim. This might leave you having to pay for legal costs out of your own pocket and pursuing more legal options to collect on the lawsuit.
Too Late to File a Case – There is a statute of limitations for almost all types of legal cases in America and the state of Florida. If you have allowed too much time to lapse between the event and the lawsuit, your suit is likely to be thrown out.
We know some of that information might be hard to digest and may potentially take your case off the table, but you will be better off not pursuing a dead end lawsuit. Lawsuits can uproot your life and keep you in a pattern of stress for months or years, so getting realistic from the start will save you from that legal drama. In contrast, let’s look at some of the solid reasons why you should consider filing a lawsuit.
Breach of Duty or Contract – One of the main reasons people decide to pursue a legal claim is because they (with their council) identify a breach of duty or contract. This isn’t as official as it might sound, because we all engage in this duty as regular citizens going about our day. In fact, every time we get into a car, we have a reasonable duty to others to drive safely and not put them at risk. If you and your attorney identify a breach of some sort by the other party, you likely have a reason to sue.
Negligence Present – When you and your attorney can determine that negligence was present in your incident, you will be able to sue for damages. An example of this would be when the person you got into a car accident with was texting and driving. This is negligent behavior, and while not always easy to prove, chances are there will be data to back up your claim on their cell phone or from a red light camera.
Unintentional Harm and Negligence – This type of case is similar to that of a suit brought from a negligence incident but was done so in an effort to help you. An excellent example of this is a medical malpractice lawsuit. This legal matter can be brought against a particular physician or healthcare facility depending on the details of your situation.
Intentional Act to Injure or Wrong You – If you and your attorney have evidence that someone or some entity intentionally acted to either hurt or wrong you, a lawsuit is likely not far behind. This type of case might turn into a criminal case depending on the particular details, and may even involve punitive damages. Speak with a lawyer to learn more about how this type of lawsuit should be pursued.
Your case will be unique to you, and if there is any confusion about whether you have a lawsuit or not, a consultation with a lawyer will help. Before we wrap this article up, here is a checklist of items you should gather before going to your Tampa accident lawyer consultation.
Medical Services Information – If your incident involved an injury, you need to collect all your medical information. Start at the very beginning of your injuries such as the ambulance service that offered you care, the emergency room you went to, and the treatment plan given to you at that time. You’ll then want to collect the paperwork for follow up medical care, prescriptions, care instructions given to you by your physician, surgery post-op care, and receipts for out of pocket medical expenses, like Tylenol. Include as many names, phone numbers, and addresses as you can.
Your Account of What Happened – Your attorney will find it helpful for you to bring a statement (not to be given to anyone but your attorney) about what you recall about the incident. Use a bullet point format to help you remember the situation step by step. Name the persons involved, the places the incident(s) happened, and the dates and times.
Employment Details – Create a list of employment details and human resource records for days you have missed at work or any leaves of absence that you have had to take as a result of your injuries. Include details about your pay, pay stubs, work contracts, or any changes in employment that have transpired after your accident.
Insurance Information and Adjusters – Take your insurance policies so your lawyer can review them for legal purposes. Collect the names and numbers of the insurance companies that you have already spoken to, and if you haven’t yet, wait for your lawyer to do this for you. This includes any official statements that you have made to insurance adjusters.
Accident Reports – If there is an accident report, you’ll want to obtain that for your attorney as it contains crucial information about your case. This could have been with law enforcement at a car accident site or a report you filed at a business or government building.
List of Questions – We encourage all of our new clients to create a list of questions about their case so we can use our time wisely. We welcome inquiries about our practice, our staff and the fee structure we use.
Please contact the Law Offices of Michael Herron if you have been involved in some type of accident and need legal guidance.
We would be happy to listen to the details of your case and look forward to hearing from you.