Multiple factors come into play when your personal injury lawyer assesses your case.
When you sit down with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and your legal options, your lawyer will need to evaluate your case first. Determining whether you can sue, how much compensation you may receive (if any), and the strength of your lawsuit or claim depends on several factors. Knowing what to expect when you meet with a lawyer can make the process a bit less intimidating and can provide you with a bit more insight into how things work.
What your personal injury lawyer will need from you to properly evaluate your case.
Before you consult with your personal injury lawyer, there are a few things you should know and have with you so that your lawyer can properly assess your case:
- The details of your accident and your injuries. Gather all of the relevant information you can, and the more specific you are – the better. Information such as the time and place of your accident and when you realized that you were injured are important. Depending on where you live, there are likely to be time limits on filing personal injury claims. For example, in Ontario, you have two years from the time of your accident to file a claim or sue, so it’s crucial that your personal injury lawyer is aware of your specific timeline.
- Where and how your injury occurred. Your personal injury lawyer will need to know where your accident happened and how you were injured; this will help the lawyer determine fault. It’s not uncommon for the victim of an accident to have trouble recalling details of the accident and injury. In that case, bringing someone who was with you at the scene of the accident or providing any police reports and witness reports can help shed some more light on what happened.
- The severity and type of injury sustained in the accident. The fundamental basis of a personal injury claim or a lawsuit is proving that an at-fault party injured you. Bring medical records with you that show any test results, procedures, diagnosis or prognosis, and contact information for every health care provider who’s overseeing your treatment.
- Any additional documents you have. Your personal injury lawyer will need any photos, videos, police reports, accident reports, legal documents, and witness statements you may have. Additionally, if you’re unable to work due to your injury, bring pay stubs or another form of proof that shows lost wages.
- It’s also crucial for your personal injury lawyer to know if anyone has tried to contact you about the incident. You should bring e-mails, texts, phone calls, or mail from the liable party or their insurer to your lawyers’ attention. Always avoid speaking to anyone other than your lawyer about the details of your accident and your case.
A significant factor that plays into how a personal injury lawyer evaluates a case is determining fault. Your lawyer will need to know every detail of your accident and who caused it. If you’re unsure who’s at fault, your lawyer may be able to determine that based on the details you give them. It’s essential to be as specific as possible. Determining fault isn’t always straightforward, and naming an incorrect at-fault party can prevent you from receiving compensation. For instance, if you were injured in a public transit accident on a bus, the at-fault party may be the municipality rather than the person operating the bus. Once your lawyer has all of the necessary details, they’ll know how to proceed with your case.
Your personal injury lawyer’s goal is to prove that the negligence of another party resulted in your injuries. To do so, they’ll need evidence to support your claim. When assessing your case, your lawyer will need to look at all of your evidence and how solid it is.
There are three main types of evidence that are relevant to personal injury cases:
Direct evidence is the strongest evidence you can provide; it’s proof that directly and undoubtedly links a negligent party to a crime or accident. This type of evidence includes security footage, pictures or videos of the crime or accident, witness statements, and phone recordings or texts/e-mails of a confession.
Tangible evidence is evidence that you can physically see and touch. Some examples are medical records, police and accident reports, physical damage on a vehicle, or damaged property.
Circumstantial evidence is not as strong and can lead to various conclusions. A piece of circumstantial evidence is something that may imply facts or reasons for guilt or innocence. Still, it doesn’t directly link anyone to anything. Some examples include past utility repair requests from a faulty piece of equipment that caused an injury or black ice on the scene of a car accident. Although this evidence isn’t generally conclusive, combining multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence can provide more context to the accident.
A lack of evidence could mean that you have a weak case. If you have very little evidence, your lawyer will ask you where or who they could get more evidence from.
When your personal injury lawyer assesses your case, they will also be able to give you an estimate on the value of your claim (how much compensation you could receive). The value of your case is primarily determined by the damages – the economic or non-economic ways your injury has affected your life.
Economic damages are how the accident and your injuries have impacted your finances. Some economic damages include medical bills, future medical and treatment costs, loss of income, and property damage.
Non-economic damages are still just as important in determining the value of your case, but they’re a bit harder to prove because they don’t have a dollar value attached to them. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, trauma, scarring or other aesthetic abnormalities, and impacts on quality of life resulting from your injury.
How a personal injury lawyer evaluates a case
By the end of your consultation with a personal injury lawyer, they’ll be able to give you an estimate on the value and their overall assessment of your case. Not every case and lawyer are the same, and some various factors and outcomes may affect how successful your case or claim can be. Your lawyer will advise you on the best course of action, how to move forward, and can answer any questions you may have about your case and your rights.