Hi, I’m Attorney David Hood and I’ve been practicing law throughout South Carolina for over 30 years. In our practice, we’ve handled a lot of personal injury cases and accident cases, and people ask the question almost every time: Do I have a good case? We’re going to dive into that for you right now.
Do I have a good case?
If you have been injured in an accident you might be wondering whether you have a strong case. The answer is “it depends”. I’m going to talk to you about factors we consider, to determine whether or not you have a strong potential personal injury case.
Number 1 is liability. Liability is basically fault. Proving “liability” (that the other person caused the accident, not you) is the first and biggest hurdle in your case. This is especially true in smaller personal injury cases. Insurance companies have no fear whatsoever about rejecting claims in small cases in which there are serious questions as to liability. To put it another way, if the defendant’s fault or responsibility is unclear, then so is your chance of achieving a favorable outcome in your case.
The second factor is damages. Liability can be clear, but if there are no damages, then you have no case. Damages are the harm that was done to you in the accident, including your past and future medical bills, as well as your pain and suffering and out of pocket loss. Even in the earlier stages of your case, you probably have some idea as to how severe your injuries are. Cases involving broken bones, which show on x-rays are relatively easy, but soft tissue cases, such as neck and back strains, are more difficult because they don’t easily show on x-rays or MRI’s.
Ability to Pay
Number 3 is the ability to pay. Does the potential defendant have the ability to pay? If not, you and your attorney may invest a good deal of time, money, effort and emotional energy in the case, but never see a penny in return. Either some type of insurance must cover the incident, or the defendant must have personal assets like property that could be sold to pay the judgment.
Will the Jury Like You?
Number 4, will the jury like you? Will jurors empathize with your situation? On the other hand, what kind of person is the defendant? Will the jury like the defendant? There are some “bad defendants” – the drunk driver, the tire squealer, or the bully. If you have an unlikeable defendant, your settlement range goes up. But even more importantly, if the jury doesn’t like you or doesn’t believe you, your settlement range goes down.