Christopher P. Corso 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Tips for Evaluating a Personal Injury Claim It goes without saying that personal injury cases have many complexities and facets that oftentimes make clients unsure of what should be the next step in the process. As their legal counsel, it’s our responsibility to guide them through the legal system and provide them with best possible representation that we can give. But as attorneys, we also have a responsibility to our practice to make sure that we’re developing and implementing our own checklist for potential clients. Our resources are finite and each case represents a certain percentage of those resources – some cases require more, some less. But every case restricts us from one more case that we can sign. So how do we ensure that we’re selecting the best cases for our firm? Every personal injury case should begin with an examination of the basic facts of the incident in question. Evaluating each potential case makes for a strong, objective assessment of the plaintiff ’s chances and ensures that we’ve done our due diligence before accepting the case. What is the nature of the injury? Have we assessed the event with great detail? How strong do we believe the claim to be? If we win, will collecting on a judgment be a viable option? Beyond these points, it is also important for us to objectively look at the case for its viability for our firm. Since each case requires us to assign tangible firm assets and hours until its conclusion, we must be confident that we are making the right decision. We must also make sure that our firm is the right fit for the client. At Corso & Rhude, there are several factors that we examine when electing to accept a personal injury case. First, personal testimony from the client will be an integral part of the case so we must be reasonably sure that the client is being forthright and truthful. Assessing the validity of any client’s potential claim is the first order of business. Beyond the validity of the claim, we assume that every personal injury case we accept is headed for trial so the case must be investigated and built to enhance our chances before a jury. That includes assessing the client’s likability. Is the plaintiff not only credible but also someone a jury will believe and empathize with during trial? Facts of the case are obviously important but so is the context in which the incident occurred. Going through the case from top to bottom is a priority at this stage of the process. It solidifies the basic facts and helps us build a case that is thorough, which benefits the plaintiff during the trial and benefits us as attorneys as we work to understand all facets of the cases. Such fact-finding processes help us identify potential witnesses as well. From accident cases to product liability cases, performing our due diligence at this stage makes for a stronger case and helps determine the validity of the claim by reviewing the role of the plaintiff. To accomplish this, it is sometimes necessary in the initial interview process to move past general information questions and act instead as the cross-examining attorney, asking probing questions to receive more honest and unrehearsed answers which will in turn help us collect all relevant facts through discovery. Additionally, it’s important that as we ask questions, we also take the time to listen to the answers. This seems obvious but it’s always worth remembering the importance of listening to the client. Understanding the plaintiff ’s role in the injury or accident is also important, as is working to accurately determine the scope of the injuries received. When assessing damages, we strive to ensure that we discover all possible damage claims. We find that thoroughly questioning a potential plaintiff helps to reveal all tangible losses that they have incurred. Beyond the obvious injuries, our investigation and thorough interview of the plaintiff helps us discover those damages that are not as clear but are nevertheless just as important to claim. Interviewing the plaintiff is not enough, however. It is our duty to our client and to our firm that we perform a thorough investigation of the case and its surrounding facts. There are several sources readily available to help assist in the investigation, including eyewitness accounts, evidence from the accident and, if available, reports filed by local authorities. Again, since we are still discovering the viability of the case for both the client and the firm, it’s important to perform a thorough investigation. Given the nature of such cases and the length of time that we will need to invest in pursuing the case, knowing all of the facts upfront is paramount. Developing a detailed and structured interview process that touches on each of these points is an integral step in representing your client while also ensuring your firm runs efficiently and profitably.
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