Elements a Lawyer Looks For in a Personal Injury Case

If you were to ask a lawyer to evaluate your personal injury case, he or she would consider the injuries and losses, liability, and availability of a defendant with deep pockets or insurance.

A personal injury lawyer will evaluate both the legal and financial aspects of a personal injury lawsuit. Even if a lawsuit will not need to be litigated in court, making a personal injury claim means being prepared to take the case to a jury trial if the defendant refuses to offer a fair settlement.


The first thing a lawyer will want to figure out is, who is liable for causing the injury or the underlying accident? In some cases, the liable party will be another person, like the driver of a car that caused an accident. In other cases the liable party may be a property owner whose slippery floor posed a hazard that caused injury, or a manufacturer whose defective product harmed a consumer.

Losses Stemming from the Injury

The next important legal issue is defining and quantifying the actual losses that resulted from the injury. Losses must be significant enough to warrant the time and effort involved in pursuing a personal injury case.

If the injured person suffered only a minor injury that will heal in a week or two, without having any substantial impact on their life, then it’s probably not worth pursuing a claim. On the other hand, if the injury is serious, or if there is significant impact on the injured person's earning ability or day-to-day life, then it is absolutely worth the time and energy of pursuing the case.

The extent of the injuries is the primary factor that determines how much a personal injury case is worth. For more on this important factor, see Valuing the Nature and Extent of Your Injuries.

Financial Considerations

Practically speaking, money is an important factor in an attorney's evaluation of a personal injury case, since money is usually the means by which an injured person is “made whole." The best cases (from an attorney's perspective) are those where a defendant carries insurance that will apply to the claimant's injuries, since there is a near-guarantee that any settlement or court-ordered judgment will be followed up with an actual check. It gets riskier when there is no insurance policy to fall back on, and an injured person is seeking to hold a private individual liable for an injury.

If there is no way to actually collect money for your personal injury claim, it's not practical to pursue it. See The Value of Your Injury Claim vs. Available Insurance for more on this issue.

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