An accident has occurred. On its face to you, it looks like a classic slam dunk case but the more you speak to lawyers, the more they refuse to handle your personal injury case. Why? There are 5 basic factors to determine the likelihood as to whether an attorney will take your case:
This is always the starting point. The more clearly the issue of whose was at fault for the accident, the more likely an attorney will take your case. Has a police officer issued a ticket to the opposing party? Was a police report issued that clearly states which party is at fault? Rule of thumbs: Though not required, it always helps to have a police report which affirmatively apportions fault to the opposing party. Anything less than a clear-cut assignment of fault will cause most attorneys to shy away from your case. Keep in mind that the police is not always required to issue a police report depending on the severity of the accident. Also embedded within the 'fault' consideration is the consideration of 'insurability' or coverage of the at fault party: Was the at fault driver a covered party within the insurance policy of the vehicle he/she caused an accident with? If not, the insurance company will deny coverage and this possibly if not likely may cause an attorney to decide against handling your case. Notwithstanding, in some cases where there is no police report, the opposing party will admit fault and inform their insurance company and this generally suffices for an attorney to move forward to the next step of assessment.
2. Property Damage
Must your car be terribly damaged before you have a good case? No. That said, attorneys may partly assess the strength of your case based on the extent of damage to the automobiles involved in the accident. The less the damage, especially with respect to the property damage sustained by the automobile of the diver who was at fault, the less chance that an attorney will accept the case. When the damage is very little, the third party’s insurance company will likely contest liability for personal injury damages on the grounds that the injuries suffered were not caused by the accident or that the extent of treatment and medical expenses incurred is not justified by the accident.
3. Personal Injury
This is one of the biggest keys after concluding on the issue of fault. The more the injuries, the higher chance an attorney will take your case. Conversely, the less severe your injuries are, the greater chance that an attorney will not take your case. For instance, you have been rear-ended in an accident. The police arrived on the scene and issued a ticket against the other driver. However, you don’t feel any pains or otherwise did not sustain any visible injuries. Further, you have visited your primary physician and been discharged without any need for physical therapy. In this situation, since the injury sustained is not substantial, it is likely that an attorney will not accept your case because the potential award may not be worth the time and effort required for your case.
In order to have a viable personal injury lawsuit or claim, your personal injury or injuries must have been caused by the negligence of another person or entity. Generally speaking, when a person or entity acts in a careless manner and causes injury to someone else, the careless person or entity will usually be legally responsible or liable for their injury or injuries and any other resulting harms under the legal principle of “negligence.”
5. Monetary Damages
Monetary damages must be evident for an attorney to take your case. There are two classes of monetary damages namely ‘economic’ and ‘non-economic’. The basis for economic damages are tangible out of pocket expenses that you incurred such as medical bills, car rental expenses, towing charges, and wages lost while obtaining medical care from your physician, chiropractor, physical therapist or medical provider. Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses caused by the accident such as pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, reduced earning capacity and loss of consortium (only for married couples in Maryland).
This is only a basic list for illustration purposes. It goes without saying that legal matters that require the input of an attorney are complex and needs a more in-depth analysis that is beyond the scope of this article. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the consultation of an experienced personal injury lawyer before going at it alone or otherwise unwittingly compromising your case. Call us at (301) 453-7177 for a free consultation.