When an Alabama personal injury lawyer first becomes involved in a matter they will immediately begin their initial investigation. This investigation starts with securing evidence. For example, if someone is injured by a product (products liability lawsuit) then the subject product must be secured so that it can be inspected and examined to determine the exact nature of the product’s defect. Photographs should be taken of the product, accident scene, automobiles involved and injuries to document what occurred and how it has affected the victim. Witnesses should be interviewed as soon as possible as stories change and memories fade over time. Often expert witnesses may be contacted early on in the investigation process to assist the personal injury attorney in determining what further investigation is necessary and whether a valid legal claim exists. For example, in the context of a car accident case, an accident reconstruction expert may be contacted early on to assist the personal injury lawyer in determining the speeds of the vehicles and the angle of impact. All these aspects of the initial investigation into a personal injury lawsuit are critical to not only determining whether a valid legal claim exists, but to maximizing that claim.
Identify Theories of Liability and Defendants:
As the initial investigation into a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit proceeds, the personal injury lawyer begins to identify potential theories of liability and potential defendants. In some cases, such a simple two car accident it may be a single claim against a single defendant. I.E. John Doe files a negligence claim against Susie Jones the driver of the car that hit John Doe. However, in many cases multiple theories of liability may be filed against multiple defendants. For example, assume Susie Jones age 19, had a history of speeding and driving recklessly and her mother Sara Jones armed with this knowledge still allowed Susie to use her car and Susie gets into an accident with John Doe. In this example, not only would John Doe file a negligence claim against Susie Jones but he would also file a negligent entrustment claim against her mother Sara Jones for entrusting her daughter whom she knew was a dangerous driver with the subject car. Furthermore, assume John Doe has serious injuries that require continuous medical treatment, then Susie Jones may not have enough insurance coverage to adequately compensate John Doe and in that situation, John Doe will likely make an additional claim under his uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. These are only a couple of examples of how an experienced Huntsville Alabama personal injury attorney evaluates and identifies potential theories of liability and potential defendants.
In part two of the Alabama Personal Injury Attorney Guide to the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process we will examine the preparation of the initial documents that are filed to begin the lawsuit process.