Someone is filing a lawsuit at any given time in this country. Some have good reasons, others do not. They have lost money they believe is owed them, had property damaged through no fault of their own or been injured in a car accident. Emotional reasons include the need to recoup losses, the desire to “give it” to the responsible party and even an undeniable urge to right a wrong.
In basic terms, the goal is to see justice done, acknowledgment of the action and monetary compensation. Unfortunately, the legal system can be exhausting. Before you take that road, consider what a lawsuit entails versus the merits of your matter.
What You are Up Against
Regardless of the circumstances, look forward to one of the slowest, drawn-out processes you will ever encounter. Sure, the potential light at the end of the courtroom – a decision in your favor – keeps you motivated. Winning will validate all your efforts, as well as have a positive impact on society, forcing the accountable to take responsibility. Hopefully, they will take measures to alter their actions to see what happened to you never happens to anyone else. Entire laws have been written to protect others based on a single personal injury lawsuit.
But there is also the chance when you reach the end of the courtroom, the light goes out. Maybe you lost the case completely or had to compromise. You will have drained a tremendous amount of money, time, patience, sanity and effort, and walked away below your expectations.
In the end, whether you go to court is going to be a personal decision based on an inarguable need to do the right thing for you, your family and your community.
The Matter Matters
Before filing a lawsuit, make sure you have a viable case and that filing makes sense. An attorney can wean through the details and help make a decision. Together, you will review and determine:
- The merits of your case, breaking down all elements, outcomes and seeing if a potential cause of action prevails.
- If the sued party could claim a valid legal defense or immunity, and possibly file a counterclaim.
- What similar cases have been brought before the court, what kind of compensation was awarded, how long the cases took, etc.
- What necessary evidence and documentation have to be acquired to support your matter.
- How witnesses, police reports and other factors will impact the case.
- If the statute of limitations has passed.
- Whether your matter will actually collect an awarded judgment (collecting and winning are not the same thing).
The specialized field of personal injury, or tort, the law covers circumstances where an individual’s mind, body or emotional state is damaged due to another party’s action. This action can be intentional or accidental, negligent or careless. It can include injury that leads to a fatality or, in legal terms, wrongful death.
Victims or their families file personal injury claims to prove and hold the injurious party responsible for the actions that caused harm to the victim. Personal injury can include property damage such as damage to a vehicle during an accident where someone was injured. But the court will focus on the injury before considering damages.
Most of these cases end in a settlement through mediation or arbitration. This is when both parties in the matter come to an agreement on how to compensate the plaintiff. Cases that go to court are much riskier than settlement. In court, there is a clear winner or loser, leaving both parties to vigorously fight to prove their cases.
Compensation will cover a broad range of categories in specific dollar amounts, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and, if a death is involved, potential life earnings and inheritance, and other lost benefits. Those factors will also play into injuries that can be long-term, like brain damage or paralysis.
At the end of the day, going to court is a personal decision. Come to it based on your goal, which is to make a legal point and hold someone accountable for how their actions have affected the lives of you or a loved one.