Do I Have a Case?
The answer is a definite "maybe." That's because there are going to be factors that affect whether any particular case is viable. Here are a few issues we look for when evaluating a case. This list is not exhaustive-every case is unique-so don't hesitate to contact an attorney to get a free consultation!
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Is there liability?
The first question will always be: is there a potential defendant who is legally liable for your injury? Just because you're hurt or financially injured does not mean there's a lawsuit. For example, many claims are for "negligence," which means someone acted irresponsibly (or, "negligently"), and that negligent act caused you harm. So, for example, if a big-rig driver and a car get into an accident, there will be a question: who was at fault? If the other guy was at fault, you may have a case. Attorneys are in business to help you find that out.
Can we prove the case?
Sometimes we just "know" someone is responsible, like a doctor after a loved one is injured during surgery. But the law demands that you prove your case, and so we often spend a lot of our time on behalf of clients figuring out what happened, and gathering the documents, records, testimony, and other evidence we need to show a jury how an injury occurred, and how it could have been avoided if the defendant had acted responsibly.
Will the potential recovery outweigh the costs of the lawsuit?
You know you've been injured (whether physically, emotionally, economically, or all of the above), and you know it was someone else's fault. This should be a no-brainer, right? Well, like most things, it's more complicated than that.
A responsible attorney should estimate what the potential expenses of pursuing the lawsuit are going to be, compare that against your likely recovery (whether in settlement, or at trial), and inform you if they think you won't see any recovery after all is said and done. I say "responsible," because the attorney could well get paid, then repaid for advanced expenses, and consider it a "good case" from their perspective. But we consider the client's perspective first, and if the amount left for you after all is said and done doesn't leave you feeling like it has been worth the time and emotional strain of a lawsuit, then the attorney hasn't helped you. Of course, you're in this for more than just money-we know that-like helping to prevent the same type of injury from happening to other people. But you also have suffered, and going through a lawsuit with nothing to show for it at the end of the day only adds to that suffering.
What about the "Statute of Limitations"?
Virtually every claim has a statute of limitations, that is, a window of time in which you are allowed to file a lawsuit. For example, as of this writing, a medical malpractice victim in Ohio has just 1 year in which to file a lawsuit after they know, or have information that they may have been injured by a doctor's negligence. Most people have no idea, and we've had to explain to people that, while they have a solid case in all other respects, they've missed the statute of limitations. There are other factors in this analysis (such as, in Ohio, whether you've served a "180 day letter" to the defendant within the statute, whether you've continued treatment with the defendant, etc.)-and it varies by claim, and by state. You need to contact an attorney to evaluate the statute of limitation in your case.
Every case is different. Should you file a lawsuit? You won't know until you talk to an experienced attorney. You can contact us, or another attorney. Remember, if you have a claim, there is most likely a statute of limitations clock running, after which your lawsuit would be subject to dismissal by the Court. Protect your rights by contacting us today or calling us at (216) 600-0114.