How Do I Know If My Client Has a Case?

How Do I Know If My Client Has a Case?

There are four conditions we must prove if we are to win your client’s injury case. All four conditions must be met.

The defendant owed your client a duty of care

A duty of care is a legal responsibility that one person owes another. Such a duty is imposed by law and stems from someone’s profession, activity, or relationship to others. To determine a duty of care, first consider the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. Then, evaluate the circumstances surrounding the incident. So, for example, in the case of a slip and fall injury in a grocery store, the owner of the grocery store owes the plaintiff a duty of care. The plaintiff fell at the store owner’s premises and store owners must provide a safe place for their shoppers to shop.

The defendant breached that duty of care

In any negligence case once a duty of care is proven, the next step in the process is for the plaintiff to prove that another party breached their duty of care. So, to continue the slip and fall example, had the grocery store been aware that slippery substance had been spilled and chose not to have it mopped up and failed to put up wet floor signs, the property owner has breached his duty of care. By failing to provide a safe establishment and not alerting shoppers to the potential hazard, the grocery store owner has breached his duty as a shopkeeper.

Your client suffered damages

When we think of damages, physical damage to us or our property often comes to mind. But damages could also include payment for workdays missed as a result of injury as well as medical bills related to trauma. There’s also the intangible kind of damage that is not physical, such as emotional distress or pain and suffering.

Your client’s injuries were the direct result of the defendant’s actions or inactions.

The plaintiff’s injuries must directly result from the defendant’s actions or inaction, also known as causation. So, in our example, if it had not been for the slippery floor on the store owner’s premises, the plaintiff would not have fallen and, therefore, would not have sustained an injury that caused him to lose money from missing work and incurring medical fees.

The Verdict

Although the condition of direct result may seem apparent in any given case, the issue may not necessarily be completely settled or decided. The laws vary dramatically on a state-by-state basis, which can make it difficult to know if your client has a claim, and if so, how much your client is entitled to receive as compensation.

Here are some hypothetical scenarios for an auto accident to demonstrate how these differences can affect your payout.

Let’s say your client sustained injuries in a car accident, and it was the other driver’s fault. In this case, your client would typically have the right to a claim. 

But what happens if it was your client’s fault, or if your client and the other party were both at fault? 

Well, it depends on which state your client was in. Some states allow recovery under comparative negligence, meaning your client is entitled to compensation even if the accident was their fault, while others have contributory negligence laws that will leave your client with nothing.

There are also a dozen no-fault states where your client’s insurance will still cover your client’s damages up to a certain amount regardless of whether your client was at fault for an accident.