Do I Have A Case?
Simply put, if someone has caused you significant harm, you probably have a case. The far more difficult question is “how strong is my case?” Strength dictates what is possible. A lawyer assesses strength by estimating what a jury would likely do with your case, because the answers inform every key decision. This is true even though cases often settle without lawsuits, and trials themselves are increasingly rare. Each side assesses strength in similar ways. Usually, the clearer the answers are to everyone involved, the earlier a case resolves. The major factors (in the context of an injury case) are:
1) Will a jury see the victim as a good, likable person who is only asking for what is reasonable?
2) Will a jury actually learn of the defendant’s conduct and consider it very bad?
3) Will a jury agree that the conduct caused all the harms the victim is alleging?
4) Will a jury think the wrongdoer will have no trouble paying a verdict?
5) Is the victim seeking damages for suffering that seem proportionate to the physical evidence and her economic losses?
To the extent those answers are each a confident “yes,” the stronger a case is. However, these are far from the only questions. Others include:
a) Where can the case be litigated? Some places are reliably more hostile to victims.
b) Is there definitely enough money on the other side to pay for what has happened?
c) Is the victim claiming major harm from what appears at first glance to be minor damage?
d) How much will it cost to pursue your case? The rules of evidence often require experts, and experts are expensive.
e) Are multiple parties at fault? Is the victim herself at fault to any degree?
f) How aggressive or unreasonable is the defending insurer? How skilled is the defense attorney?
g) How clearly is all of the relevant law in the victim’s favor?
Victims typically win on clarity. Defendants typically win by playing up gray areas in victims’ proof, and to the extent they can successfully imply that victims are not worthy of full justice.
While the discussion above should serve to demonstrate the major areas of hidden complexity cases typically present, there are many other issues that may come into play. The bottom line remains the same: a strong case starts with a good person badly harmed in easily-provable ways by another person’s very poor conduct.