If you have been injured, in an auto accident, for example, you may just assume that a lawsuit is the next logical step. However, it is not always the best option, financially. There are so many factors involved in litigating a personal injury case, beyond simply determining who is at fault. Deciding whether to file a lawsuit is an important step and should be discussed with your personal injury attorney.
A Common Scenario
Ms. Smith contacts her personal injury attorney and informs him that she has been involved in an auto accident and has suffered minor injuries. The driver of the other vehicle does not admit to liability, but instead, argues that Ms. Smith caused the accident. The accident report does not make the issue of liability any clearer. Considering that litigating your case can cost be $5,000 and $10,000, it may not be financially feasible to sue.
Suing on “Principle” is not always a Good Idea
There are situations where, even if you are determined to make your point and prove the other party wrong, filing a lawsuit simply on “principle” is not wise. Unless money is not an issue for you, it is sometimes financially best for you not to proceed in court. You should sit down with your personal injury attorney and carefully consider all of the factors involved before you decide to go to court with your case.
Ask Yourself These Three Questions
Before you decide whether to proceed with a lawsuit, ask yourself these three questions. First, do you really have a good case? Second, will you be happy with a settlement, perhaps through mediation? Third, if you did win the lawsuit, would you be able to actually collect the judgment? If the answer to any of these three questions is “no,” then you may want to reconsider going to court.
How Do I Know if I Have a Good Case?
Every legal claim has certain “elements” that must be proven in order to have any chance of winning your case. You should first look at each of the elements that apply to your particular claim, with your personal injury attorney, and determine whether you have sufficient evidence to prove each one. If there is even one element that will be difficult to prove, that must be taken into consideration. But, remember, even with a “good case,” there may be other reasons not to sue.
Can You Collect the Judgment if You Win?
Winning the case, or receiving a favorable jury verdict, is not the end of the process. You still must be able to collect the monetary judgment that you are awarded. If the defendant is unable to pay, then your win could amount to nothing, in reality. In fact, your ability to collect a money judgment from the defendant may be one of the most important questions to answer. The court can only enter an order stating that you are legally entitled to a monetary judgment; the court cannot collect it for you.
If you have questions regarding lawsuits, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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