Car Accidents — Initial evaluation — Lawsuit evaluation checklist

A personal injury lawyer will evaluate your lawsuit carefully before agreeing to represent you, and the issues that the lawyer considers can help you evaluate your own case.

The following checklist is a sample of the kinds of things that a personal injury lawyer will consider and evaluate in deciding whether or not to accept a car accident case. An injury lawyer would review this checklist (or a similar one) before the initial meeting with you to ensure that he or she has or will obtain all appropriate information. The lawyer will review these matters again before making any final decision to take the case.

  1. When did the car accident occur?
  2. Have any applicable statutes of limitations run on any possible causes of action?
  3. Who are the potential defendants (other car drivers, other owners or employers, manufacturers)?
  4. What were the client’s activities for the 24 hours preceding the accident?
  5. What is the client’s driving history?
  6. What was the condition of the client’s car? Did it need any repairs or have any known defects?
  7. Does the client have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage?
  8. Was the client charged as a result of the car accident?
  9. Who are the available witnesses who will support the client’s version of the events?
  10. What damages were suffered by the client and what is their value?
  11. What health care providers have treated the client for injuries resulting from the car accident?
  12. How long was the client out of work?
  13. What earning capacity did the client have, separate and distinct from his or her particular occupation at the time of the car accident?
  14. What kind of witness will the client make?
  15. Are there other potential plaintiffs (spouse or children)? What kind of witnesses will they make?
  16. Are there any special problems that may arise regarding the ability to prove liability or to collect damages?
  17. What kind of witness will the defendant make?
  18. What affirmative defenses are available to the defendant (assumption of the risk, contributory negligence, comparative negligence, last clear chance)?
  19. What is the likelihood of collecting a judgment:
    • Is the defendant insured (does the particular jurisdiction require liability insurance)?
    • Is the defendant known to have assets?
    • Was the vehicle owned by someone with assets?
  20. Are there any nontraditional and more sophisticated issues that come into play, such as:
    • Crashworthiness?
    • Vehicle design (system fuel integrity, steering wheel design, sufficiency or lack of airbags, vehicle rollovers, vehicle “crash worthiness” and highway or roadway design)?