Interviewer: When someone brings you a potential personal injury case, what are some of the challenges that you face?
Is the Case Viable?
Daniel Hoarfrost: The first challenge is evaluating that and determining whether it’s a worthwhile case to bring. In other words, it’s going to be cost-effective and that there’ll be a result available for the client that justifies the time and energy that goes into it. Then, after that, the main challenge is developing evidence to actually prove a case.
Developing Evidence: Personal Injury Cases Entail Litigation and Litigation Requires Proof
Any time you’re talking about a litigation scenario, what that means is going to court and ultimately having a trial. It’s not simply a matter of telling your story. You have to be sure that you have the ability to actually prove whatever it is that has to be proved, depending on the claim that you’re making. For me that’s always a challenge.
What Factors Make a Personal Injury Case a Worthwhile Case?
Interviewer: What would be considered to be a good case versus a case that probably wouldn’t be worth pursuing?
Liability + Damages or Injury May Equal a Viable Personal Injury Case
Daniel Hoarfrost: With respect to personal injury cases, there’s essentially two parts to every case. The first one being liability. Just because you’re injured doesn’t mean that there’s a right to be compensated by somebody. There has to be a liability. Usually a negligence claim asserts that the offending party caused your injury by virtue of their negligence, a failure to act with due care. That’s the liability side of it.
Comparative Fault: Did the Injured Party Contribute to the Cause of the Incident?
Secondly, you have to be able to establish that there are damages or injury. Frequently there may be a questionable liability or only a partial fault situation. If the plaintiff, who is the injured party, contributed to the cause of the accident, it used to be called contributory. Now it’s called comparative fault.
Those are issues that complicate the picture. If it’s not a good liability situation, then you may not want to pursue it at all.
Then the other side of it is the injury portion of the equation. Really, for very minor injuries, it may not justify the expense that’s involved in pursuing the claim. That’s another part of the evaluation process.