by, Lexicon Legal
All injury litigators are familiar with the basic elements of a personal injury claim. The challenge is establishing which elements are in dispute. Attorneys may need to establish the duty of care, the actions that breached that duty, causation between the plaintiff’s injuries and the defendant’s conduct, the amount of the plaintiff’s damages, or all the above. While every attorney faces these barriers in their personal injury practice, many are not utilizing the tools at their disposal to simplify each of these steps.
THE DUTY OF CARE
The duty of care can be a highly subjective legal standard that changes with every case. The duty owed to a plaintiff can change depending on:
- Where the case occurred
- Controlling case law in the jurisdiction
- The location of the accident within the jurisdiction
- The weather conditions that existed at the time of the accident
- The ages of the plaintiff and defendant
- Any special relationship between the parties (such as doctor and patient, or nursing home and resident)
- Media coverage of the case
ESTABLISHING A BREACH OF THE DUTY OF CARE
Like the duty of care itself, the breach of a duty of care can be a highly subjective standard. Even when the parameters are more clearly defined, the parties can vehemently disagree on whether the defendant’s conduct constitutes a breach of the duty of care or not. This is the crux of much malpractice litigation; Plaintiff’s lawyers must be prepared to present testimony from expert witnesses who are not only credible in their field but can also present a more compelling case than opposing defense experts.
PROVING CAUSATION BETWEEN THE DEFENDANT’S CONDUCT AND INJURIES
While causation is occasionally obvious (as in the case of a heater causing burns), these are not usually the cases that end up in litigation. Many injury cases require litigators to address complex issues of causation. These issues can be a combination of legal, technical, and medical issues. You may need expert witnesses in each area to connect your client’s injuries to the defendant’s conduct. Causation can also be complicated by contributory negligence, underlying medical conditions, multiple defendants, and other issues of fact or law.
DOCUMENTING THE FULL AMOUNT OF DAMAGES
One of the most common areas of dispute in any injury case is the amount of the plaintiff’s damages. Complicated legal issues can send a case directly to litigation, but most cases start with some sort of settlement negotiation. Settlement negotiations are most likely to break down over the dollar amounts. When this happens, plaintiff’s litigators must be prepared to prove the full value of their client’s losses to a jury with compelling, objective evidence. This can require testimony from many different expert witnesses in many different fields.
GUIDEPOINT CONNECTS YOU TO THE RESOURCES THAT SUPPORT YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CASES
Personal Injury lawyers have many important tasks competing for their attention at all phases of litigation. Guidepoint offers a range of services that help litigators deliver the results their clients expect. We provide analyses of case merit, connect litigators to expert witnesses, and provide comprehensive timelines of medical and insurance records. We also have Clinicians on Call to help litigators work through their questions on medical cases. Contact us today to learn about how our services can support all your legal needs before, during, and after litigation.