Many people encounter situations that necessitate legal action every day in West Virginia, but it’s important to know when you have a solid case and when to cut your losses. Suing another person or entity is a lengthy, stressful, and often expensive process. Before you decide to file a lawsuit, consider these points and make an informed decision.
As with any legal matter, a reliable and experienced Charleston personal injury attorney will make a world of difference for all your legal issues. The following information can help you develop an idea of the strength of your case. If you think a lawsuit is the best course of action after reading it, get in touch with a qualified legal team.
Determine the Cause of Action
This may sound a bit like stating the obvious, but you can’t file a lawsuit without a legitimate legal claim (the cause of action). You must have a valid legal reason to file a lawsuit. If your situation involves another person or entity, you must be able to establish their relationship to the incident. For personal injury cases, this will often entail proving negligence. In order to prove negligence, you must establish three things to a court:
- The defendant (the person or entity you’re suing) had a duty to act with reasonable care.
- The defendant failed in this duty by some action, or in some cases, inaction (such as an employer failing to address a known workplace safety issue).
- This failure directly resulted in your injuries.
If you believe another person or entity was negligent and caused your injury, this would be your cause of action.
Consider Your Demands
Before you attempt to pull the offending party into court, see if they are willing to make things right. If they will compensate you for your damages without going to court, there is no reason to spend the time and money on a lawsuit. It’s important to pursue compromise before resorting to a lawsuit. The offending party may be willing to repay your losses, and if you are truly committed to pursuing a lawsuit, you may wind up with less than their offer after paying your legal fees.
You also need to assess whether the defendant will be able to pay your damages if you win the case. If the defendant does not have any assets, it will be very hard to collect anything, and you’ll still have to pay your own legal fees. Most lawsuits can be settled outside of court. Your attorney should help you navigate toward an acceptable settlement without the need to go to court, and this saves everyone time, money, and frustration.
Are You Able to Sue?
This may seem like another obvious point, but you need to know that you’re actually able to file a lawsuit should you decide to do so. Personal injury cases function with a statute of limitations, meaning that you have a time limit for filing. The statute of limitations varies by state and, usually, begins on the date of the incident. If injuries were not immediately apparent, the statute of limitations begins on the date you discovered the injury, such as with a medical malpractice claim.
You also need to consider whether you’ll be able to pay your legal fees after a lawsuit. Think about the money you expect as compensation, subtract the legal fees, and decide if the result would still be acceptable. If not, try to mediate a mutually agreeable settlement with the other party.
As with any legal matter, it’s crucial to know what you’re getting yourself into before you commit to a legal battle. Regardless of your situation, a free legal consultation with a knowledgeable attorney will be extremely helpful in your legal disputes.