For most people, (for better or worse) their first impression of an attorney comes from a television commercial – and more likely than not, the attorney in that commercial is telling you how he or she can get you compensation for your injuries. And while this first impression may or may not be a bad one, the reason they exist is because people are injured every day due to accidents – whether a car accident, a slip and fall, a bike accident, a boating accident, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, these commercials often do little to provide you with information as to how lawyers are able to get compensation for your injuries… and, equally as bad, they often give an impression that every case is worth an inflated amount of compensation.
At Carpenter Gandhi, we do not advertise client awards or settlements because each and every case is different, even if the facts are similar. The only way we can evaluate your case is by speaking with you and reviewing the evidence. We offer free consultations, and whether you choose to retain our firm or not, we want you to walk out with as much information as possible so that you can better understand the legal strengths and potential weaknesses of your situation.
If I was hurt, why wouldn’t I have a case?
Personal injury cases are most often brought under a legal theory of negligence. In order to have a legal case against a person or entity, you need five things: (1) Duty, (2) Breach of that Duty, (3) Injury, (4) Causation, and (5) Damages. So, if you have been injured, you tick off one of those boxes; however, if any of the remaining four cannot be ‘checked,’ you may not have a case.
What is “Duty”?
Duty refers to an entity or person’s legal duty to you. It makes common sense that everyone has a duty to not intentionally injure someone, but it becomes more difficult when speaking in terms of negligence. When you choose to drive a car, you have a legal duty not to hit another car – if you do, you were most likely being negligent, even if only slightly. If you are shopping at a business, that business has a higher legal duty to you than if you are trespassing. Duty is an important legal determination that an attorney can make through an assessment of your case – duty comes from one of two sources – statute or common law, and correctly making this determination is critical.
What is “Breach”?
Breach is a little easier to determine, but still has pitfalls if not carefully assessed. If a duty is present, you need to determine whether the level of care given was met. Were you properly warned? Were steps taken to ensure your safety? And there are many more questions an attorney must assess when making the call whether the legal duty to you was, in fact, breached.
What is “Causation”?
Depending on the injury, causation may or may not be easily determined. If you break your leg in a car accident, that may be a pretty easy determination. However, if you develop an exacerbation of a pre-existing injury or if there are intervening or contributing potential causes, the causation element becomes very tricky very quickly. Attorneys often rely on medical reports and experts to determine causation, and proving it can be key to a successful settlement or verdict.
What do you mean by “Damages”?
The law only has one way to compensate for injuries, and that is money. The out of pocket expenses and medical bills can be relatively easy to determine. The most difficult part is determining items like future treatment costs, pain and suffering, and loss of income (as well as many other variable factors). Determining the monetary value of your damages is very difficult. The attorney must evaluate not only the quantifiable (i.e. lost wages), but the non-quantifiable (i.e. pain and suffering). At Carpenter Gandhi, we work with our clients to determine the most accurate valuation possible, and we make sure our clients understand our assessment and its basis.
If you have been injured and have questions about whether you may have a claim for compensation, call Carpenter Gandhi for a free consultation.