Case evaluation checklist

In deciding whether to accept a personal injury case and how to proceed with the case, a personal injury attorney will need to acquire the following information:

  1. Have any of the applicable statutes of limitation run or expired? If so, which has run or expired and what implications will that have on the potential for recovery for any remaining and still viable causes of action? If any of the statutes of limitation has not run, then identify each potential statute of limitation and the date on which it will run or expire.
  2. Is there any statute of repose that may apply to the action?
  3. What parties can be sued?
  4. Is there jurisdiction over each of those parties?
  5. Do those parties have assets to satisfy any judgment?
  6. Is there any insurance coverage involved (review plaintiff’s policies and defendant’s policies)? What are the policy limits? What are the exclusions and potential defenses to coverage?
  7. What is the nature of the client’s injuries?
  8. What causes of action are presented?
  9. Are the injuries permanent in nature?
  10. Is the case viable from an economic standpoint?
  11. Are there alternative methods of dispute resolution required (arbitration clauses and disputes with insurance companies) or available (arbitration, mediation, ADR) to the client? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  12. Have any settlement offers been made?
  13. What kind of impression will the client make on the jury?
  14. What are the potential theories of liability?
  15. What are the potential problems of proof as to each theory?
  16. What defenses are available to the defendants?
  17. Does the client have any problems with appearance, demeanor, character, or background that will have an adverse effect on the jury?
  18. Should an expert witness be retained?
  19. Is a referring attorney involved?
  20. Should the case be referred to another attorney with more expertise in the particular area?
  21. Have all appropriate documents and authorizations been obtained from the client (tax returns, employment records, educational records, social security records, driving records, medical records, workers compensation records and criminal/arrest records?
  22. Is the investigator’s report consistent with the client’s story?
  23. Are there any witnesses to the accident/incident?
  24. Are the witnesses’ accounts consistent with the client’s account of the incident?
  25. Is there a chance that any witness may leave the jurisdiction or be otherwise unavailable for trial? If so, consider some formal perpetuating of the witness’ testimony.
  26. Is the client prepared to make a commitment to take the case to trial?
  27. Will the client be able to withstand the rigors of discovery and trial?
  28. Is there a likelihood for favorable resolution of the client’s claim?
  29. Are there any specific and identifiable problems or impediments to a successful recovery? What are they and how can they be overcome.

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