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Pete Mackey
Pete Mackey
Attorney • (800) 574-4332

Will You Take My Case?

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Nobody comes in to our offices to tell us what a great day they have had. We don’t do adoptions, we represent folks who have suffered severe personal or financial injuries. Unfortunately, we have to turn down many more of those cases than we take. Over the next few weeks, we will explain how we evaluate different kinds of cases. For this first installment, let’s discuss the process generally.

The basic formula in a negligence case is pretty simple:

a) Do we represent the good guy?

b) Did the bad guy do the good guy wrong?

c) Are the damages the good guy suffered enough to merit the time and trouble it will take to bring this case to resolution? and

d) If the answers to the three questions above are yes, can we collect a judgment that we get against the bad guy?

As simple as it seems, the reality is that reading these tea leaves is harder than it looks. Specifically, items b) and c) can be awfully difficult to evaluate. Often times, while there are horrible damages, the bad guy’s conduct did not directly cause or contribute to those damages. As for those damages, sometimes they are not caused by the bad guy’s misconduct. An easy example to illustrate negligence is driving a car. The driver of a car has a duty to follow the rules of the road. If he runs a red light, he breaches that duty. If, while running that red light, he hits the driver who had the green light and injures that driver, he is negligent and should be held responsible.

Pretty simple, huh? Let’s change the facts a little. The driver of the car that ran the red light is a state trooper on a high speed chase. Or, the good guy driving through the green light was in another wreck the week before and suffered back and neck injuries in that collision. Or, within a month of the collision, the good guy is diagnosed with a syndrome that doctors believe may or may not be related to trauma – is it caused by this incident? Or, even though the bad guy clearly did wrong, the law gives him an out (for instance, sovereign immunity or the exclusivity of a worker’s compensation award – concepts we will address in future posts). How are all of these issues weighed in relation to the rest of the facts?

It is a lot harder than it looks. The four lawyers in our firm have almost 100 years of collective experience making these evaluations, so we feel like we are ahead of the curve. In the coming days and weeks, we will discuss case evaluation in more detail and in specific types of cases. Stay tuned.