How does an attorney evaluate the viability of an accident case?

When a car accident victim consults with an attorney to have his or her case evaluated, there may initially be some trepidation. After all, the average person doesn't really understand the legal principles at play in assigning fault in car accident cases. Most people simply go with their gut feeling about how the accident transpired. Unfortunately, gut feeling isn't always accurate. What really matters is the merits of the case, or the strength of a case based on the evidence. In car accident cases, evidence is evaluated with an eye toward assigning fault.

Determining who is at fault in an accident is dependent on being able to show that: (1) a driver breached (2) an established legal duty and that this (3) caused (4) harm to the accident victim. Excluding damages, then, there are generally four elements to proving a negligence case, and an attorney evaluating a potential car accident case will look at the known facts with an eye to his or her ability to prove those elements in court. 

One of the ways car accident cases can get complicated fast is when there are multiple at-fault parties. In West Virginia, those who are accused of negligence in connection with a car accident are able to assert the negligence of the plaintiff and/or third parties. West Virginia follows a rule which holds that a plaintiff is unable to recover any damages if he or she is 51 percent or more at fault for the crash. A personal injury accident will also take this into account when evaluating a car accident case.

Evaluating the viability of a car accident case involves not only a consideration of the merits of the case. It also involves evaluating the amount of damages potentially available in the case and how this compares with the probable costs of pursuing litigation, as well as various other factors.

Regardless of a car accident victim's particular circumstances, it is important to work with an experienced attorney when pursuing litigation so as to ensure strong advocacy should one decide to go forward with litigation.

Sources:

FindLaw, "Proving Fault: What is Negligence?," Accessed 12, 2014.

Claims Journal, "Understanding Comparative Fault, Contributory Negligence and Joint & Several Liability," Gary Wickert, Sept. 5, 2013

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