It’s estimated that more than 40 million lawsuits get filed each year. Many of those cases are personal injury lawsuits resulting from someone else’s negligence.
Getting injured is never pleasant. And medical treatments, lost income, and emotional trauma take a toll on your finances.
Depending on the type of injury and the circumstances of the accident, you might be able to sue for negligence. But there’s more to the process than hiring an attorney.
You need to decide if it’s worth the time and effort to file a suit in the first place. So, how can you tell?
Here are a few things to consider before suing for negligence.
1. The Cost vs. Value of the Lawsuit
Before you go to court, you need to consider whether the case is worth the time and money. Though your attorney will only charge you if you win the case, there are other costs to cover.
Hiring expert witnesses can cost hundreds and filing the lawsuit’s paperwork is expensive on its own. Think about the amount you expect to win and compare it against the costs.
If the settlement amount only covers your attorney fees, the court fees, and barely leaves you anything leftover, filing might not be the best choice.
2. Willingness to Go Through the Scrutiny
Every negligence lawsuit involves a certain degree of scrutiny. If you’re injured, your medical records will be carefully examined by the court.
This means your medical history will be on display to the court. If you’re suing an employer, your employment history will also get scrutinized.
It’s part of the investigative and due diligence process. Make sure you’re comfortable with this before taking legal action. If not, it may be time to look for an alternative to a lawsuit.
3. Your Chances of Winning
Not all personal injury suits are successful. Before starting the lawsuit, speak with an experienced attorney.
They’ll look at your case and the evidence against the business or individual. It’s their job to tell you whether you have a case and what your chances are of winning the suit.
If they say the odds are against you, it’s in your best interest not to proceed. Don’t worry—they’ll give you an honest opinion. Once they do, they’ll discuss other alternatives if needed.
4. Time to Invest in the Suit
Lawsuits can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year before the court reaches a decision. And you’re involved in most of it.
If there are court dates, you’re required to appear. Meetings with your attorneys will be ongoing.
For people with busy personal and professional lives, the timeline can be brutal. You’re not only juggling your recovery during a lawsuit. You’re also managing your social obligations and work schedule.
If you’re not emotionally willing to put in the time, a lawsuit might not be the best choice. But for plaintiffs willing to put in the work, it can help.
5. The Financial Situation of the Defendant
Just because you win the lawsuit doesn’t mean you’ll get your money immediately. If the negligent party is struggling financially, the court may garnish wages from their paychecks.
You’ll get a payment, but it might not be as much as you want or need. Depending on the situation, it could be years until you receive your full settlement amount.
If you’re willing to wait, suing for negligence regardless of the financial situation is effective. But if you need the money now, carefully consider how much the person you’re suing can afford to pay.
6. The Local Statutes of Limitations
Not all negligence cases can go to court. If the incident happened recently, your chances of going to court are good. But if the incident occurred a year or two ago, you might have missed your window.
Every type of negligence incident has a statute of limitations. This is the timeframe in which you must file a lawsuit. If you file outside the timeframe, the statute of limitations prevents you from taking the other party to court.
During your consultation, your attorney will check your case and its timeline against the state’s statutes. Find out more about how the statutes impact your suit by scheduling a consultation immediately.
7. Your Evidence
Every personal injury lawsuit needs evidence to be successful. This includes your medical records, documentation of the incident itself, and ongoing treatments resulting from the injury.
If you don’t have evidence, didn’t file a complaint, or get help for the problems arising from the other person’s negligence, it’ll be hard to win your case.
That doesn’t mean it’s entirely impossible. But it does make it more difficult.
Think about the evidence you have. Do you have medical bills resulting from the injury? Did you file a complaint with the business owner when the incident happened?
If so, you have evidence. If not, speak with your attorney. They’ll help you find anything that you can use to back your claim.
8. Is There an Alternative to Suing for Negligence?
In many instances, lawsuits are the last ditch effort to get compensated for an injury. There are almost always alternatives you can use instead.
Methods like mediation, settling out of court, and arbitration are simple ways to avoid going to court. Regardless of the alternative you choose, you’ll want to work with an experienced attorney.
They’ll still argue your case outside of court and can guarantee that all settlements and agreements are legally binding. This means you’ll get the funds you need no matter what.
And if the negligent party fails to live up to their side of the agreement, they’ll help initiate a lawsuit for breach of contract.
Suing for negligence is a complicated process. But as long as you weigh your options and work with an experienced attorney, it’s an effective way to get the compensation you deserve.
But no matter how much money you receive, you’ll need to be smart about how you use it. Check out our latest posts for helpful tips on how to manage your finances.