Do I Have a Civil Lawsuit Case? How to Determine if My Situation Is a Case for a Lawyer?

If you have been injured in another accident that was caused by another party, you may be able to pursue a civil lawsuit against the responsible party. However, a lawyer may evaluate certain factors of your case to determine whether or not to take your case.

Legal Theory

During your consultation with an attorney, the lawyer will want to ascertain in quick order what your legal theory is in the case. For example, you may have been injured in an automotive accident and you may claim that the other driver acted in a negligent manner.

You may have received improper treatment from a healthcare provider and may allege medical malpractice. You may have been injured by a defective product and wish to pursue a strict liability claim against the manufacturer. Each of these types of cases has a different protocol in how it should be handled.

For example, medical malpractice cases typically require having an expert testify about the standard of care that
should have been employed in the specific treatment. Once the attorney determines your legal theory of the case, he or she will have a better understanding of the case involved and the potential expenses associated with taking on the case. Generally, the more complicated the case, the better it is for you to retain the services of a lawyer.


Another key factor that a lawyer will look at is how clear liability is in the case. For example, liability may be clearer if you were injured in an automotive accident caused by a drunk driver instead of by falling on a floor in a grocery store after slipping on a grape if the grape had only been on the floor for a few minutes and the store had procedures in place to ensure that employees constantly cleaned the area.

In many civil lawsuits, a lawyer must be able to show that the defendant acted in a negligent way. Through the discovery process, an attorney may be able to acquire various pieces of evidence related to the case that may help establish liability, such as police reports, photographs, video of the incident and witnesses to the accident. However, if the lawyer will not be able to establish liability, he or she may be unwilling to take the case.

Complex Legal Issues

If your case involves complex legal issues that may require the retention of experts, a lawyer may be hesitant about taking the case if the expenses outweigh the potential judgment or settlement. More complicated matters may require more of the attorney’s time. If the case is taken on a contingent-fee basis, the attorney may not net as much of a profit as a more straight-forward case. If the case is taken on an hourly basis, your attorney may warn you that the case may require more time to adequately research and handle these complex matters. Settlement may be an alternative to help avoid some of the expenses associated with proving these complex matters.


Law offices are businesses and are, therefore, interested in turning a profit. Even if the other party was clearly liable for the accident and the attorney is assured that he or she will likely win the case, your case must be worth a certain amount before an attorney may be willing to take on the case. If an attorney is working on your specific case, he or she may have to reject other cases that come in, so your case must be valuable enough to forego other opportunities.

While you may think that a minor automotive accident may not be that valuable, your damages may be more than you expect. For example, you may have sizeable medical bills, significant lost wages, compensable pain and suffering and damages for a diminishment of your enjoyment of life. Discuss your case with an attorney to determine whether the level of damages that you may be entitled to receive meets the minimum requirement by the attorney or firm.


The end game for most civil lawsuits is to recover monetary damages for the harm that you, and possibly others, have suffered. If you plan on suing a particular party, it is important to know whether the defendant will be able to actually pay the judgment that is made against him or her. Even if the defendant does not have many financial resources, the defendant might have insurance that is available to pay the claim.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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