Do I Have A Case?
Let’s face it. No one wants to be involved in a lawsuit. They can be time consuming, stressful and costly to all parties concerned. If you have been injured in an accident or involved in some other type of dispute in which you think you’ve been wronged and are entitled to damages, you may turn to the courts in order to resolve your differences with the other party. But before you decide to sue someone, there are a number of factors you should consider.
Do you have the legal capacity and standing to sue?
In order to file a lawsuit, you must be in good mental health and over the age of 18. You will need a guardian, trustee or executor in order to proceed with a lawsuit if you are incompetent due to your age, disability or illness.
You also must have a legal standing to sue. In other words, you must have been directly wronged by the person or entity (a government agency or business, for example) you wish to sue.
Do you have a good case?
You need to have a legitimate case or “cause of action.” Your case must meet a certain legal requirements in order to be pursued in court. In the case of a personal injury claim, for example, you would need to be able to prove negligence on the part of the other party in order to win your case.
Can you collect damages if you win the case?
You need to know that you will be able to collect a settlement if you should win your case. It’s not worth pursuing legal action if the party you are suing does not have any assets or insurance which will cover your claim. It’s important to evaluate the financial condition of the person you are going to sue.
Can legal liability be established?
Determining legal responsibility (“liability”) can be complicated, especially if there are multiple parties involved. Accidents typically occur due to someone’s carelessness. In determining who is “at fault,” the party who is more careless than the other is generally responsible for paying at least some of the damages.
Do you have the resources to sue?
Lawsuits can be expensive. If you hire an attorney, they will generally–but not always–take your case on a contingency basis in the case of personal injury actions. This means that the attorney will not charge you anything unless they obtain a settlement for you. But in non-injury cases, you will often have to pay your attorney for their time and expenses in order to bring suit against another person. It may be more cost effective to settle your case out of court.
Are you within the statute of limitations?
Different types of cases have time limits that specify how long you have to file suit if you have been injured or suffered damages of some other kind. This is known as the statute of limitations. In the state of California, the following statute of limitations apply:
- Personal injury: Two years from the injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is 1 year from the date the injury was discovered.
- Breach of a written contract: Four years from the date the contract was broken.
- Breach of an oral contract: Two years from the date the contract was broken.
- Property damage: Three years from the date the damage occurred.
- Claims against government agencies: You must file a claim with the agency within 6 months (for some cases, 1 year) of the incident. If the claim is denied, you can then file your lawsuit in court but there are strict limits to when.
Where will you sue?
You will need to determine which court has jurisdiction for your case. If you are suing a party who resides out of state, you may need to file suit in their home state. Certain cases will be filed in federal court, while most others will be filed with a state court. In some instances, you may be able to file your case in small claims court. In California, the small claims limit was raised to $10,000 for most cases in July 2012, except that a plaintiff may not file a claim over $2,500 more than twice a year. The limit for a local public entity or for businesses is $5,000. $6,500 is the limit in suits by an individual against a guarantor that charges for its guarantor or surety services.
Consult an attorney
Before you decide to sue, it is always in your best interests to consult with an attorney. At Hakimfar Law, we can advise you on how to best proceed with your case. Contact Hakimfar Law today for a free consultation.
8746 Holloway Drive
West Hollywood, CA 90069
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