Case Selection Process
At our office, an attorney, not a paralegal or case manager, personally meets with all new clients to discuss the facts and issues of the case, the client’s injuries and damages, including lost wages and medical bills, and availability of insurance coverage. Following a comprehensive consultation and consideration of all the information obtained from the client, the attorney will discuss the pros and cons of the case with the client and whether the case has merit and should be pursued.
Many injury law firms assign case managers or paralegals to meet with clients for the initial consultation and case evaluation. This is a mistake. An attorney will look at a case with a broader vision of what is possible based on the law and circumstances of the case, and can see merit where those with less training and experience do not. We have successfully represented many clients that have been turned down by other law firms.
The actual case selection process is the same for all types of injury cases. Liability (fault) is the first step in evaluating every case. First, we must determine whether someone or something was at fault for causing injury to our client. A simple example is a car crash where our client is stopped at a light and rear ended. In this case, determining liability is easy.
More difficult fault issues are involved when a patient is injured in a hospital through medical malpractice. This is more difficult because several different health care providers may be at fault or partially at fault for the injury. The issue of fault may be easy to determine in some cases, but in more complex matters, determining fault will require a considerable amount of investigation.
One important factor in choosing the right lawyer for your case is whether the lawyer has the financial ability to properly investigate your case. In a medical malpractice case, the investigation usually requires hiring doctors and specialists to review our client’s medical records. Our firm advances the costs of any investigation and does not ask for money up front to cover these costs. Once we identify one or more medical providers at fault or liable for our client’s injuries, we next have to prove the providers caused the injury to our client.
In order to win a personal injury case, it is not enough to prove someone was merely at fault or negligent. We must also prove the person caused injury by their actions or failure to act. For example, a nurse might give the wrong medication to a patient, but it does not cause the patient any side effects or injuries. This is a case where the nurse did something wrong and was negligent, but her negligence did not cause injury to the patient. Another example is a person that is in a car crash and claims to have a neck injury, but has a prior history of neck pain and headaches. The defense in such a case will argue that the car crash did not cause any new injury, but rather, the injured person is suffering from a pre-existing condition.
We work with medical and other experts who, through training and experience, can identify and differentiate between aggravation of a pre-existing condition and new injuries caused by the accident.
After we have determined that we can prove liability and causation, we then concentrate on proving that our client has sustained damages or injuries. Sometimes the damages are obvious such as a broken leg suffered in a car crash. However, the proof of true damages in a case is a much more complicated process. For example, if our client can no longer work and needs future medical care, we hire experts to calculate what the value of future medical care and lost earning capacity will be. We also meet with our client’s treating physicians and therapists to chart a future course of therapy and treatment to manage future care and produce the best outcome. We may also seek further diagnostic testing that can identify injuries that are hard to see on simple x-rays, but stand out on other more sophisticated scans such as MRI or CT.
Finally, to have a successful case, there must be a source to pay for the injuries and damages caused by the defendant’s negligence. Unfortunately, many times a client has been injured and has damages, but there is no insurance, or insufficient coverage or other means to compensate for the damages. For example, if a client is hit by an uninsured or under-insured driver running a red light, unless the client has elected to carry uninsured motorist coverage on his or her automobile policy, it is unlikely there could be a recovery. In such a case, a thorough investigation would need to be conducted to consider every possible source to pay for the client’s injuries before turning a case down. This is a problem that needs the careful attention of an experienced personal injury lawyer to make sure all possible sources of recovery have been considered.