If you have been injured due to no fault of your own, you may automatically assume you need to hire an attorney and sue for a personal injury. Although it’s never a bad idea to schedule a free consultation with a local lawyer, moving forward with a personal injury claim may not be for you.

Before you notify your employer, the company, or the clinic that was involved in the accident of your intentions, it’s a good idea to think through these five questions to see if you should sue at all.

What Kind of Tort Case Would You Have?

A personal injury case isn’t just a personal injury case. There are different types of personal injury cases that fall under the umbrella of tort law.

Tort law includes all personal injuries that are caused due to negligence, carelessness, or irresponsible actions of another person or entity. They fall into one of three categories that include:
  • Intentional torts: The other party knew or should have known the act would result in an injury.
  • Negligent torts: The other party failed to provide a reasonable level of care or caution.
  • Strict liability torts: Safety precautions are present, but the situation is still reasonably dangerous.
Thinking through what kind of case you have can also help you determine if you think you can make a recovery in your case. If your case doesn’t meet the guidelines of one of the tort categories, it may be a long shot for you to recover funds in your case, which might make taking the other party to court a waste of time.

Are You Within the Statute of Limitations?

It’s important to remember exactly when your accident occurred because you only have so much time to file your claim. For example, you have five years from when the injury occurred to file your claim in Missouri. Other states have even less time.

If you are outside the statute of limitations, your case is likely to be thrown out. There are some exceptions though, so you may want to meet with an attorney anyway. If the injured person is under 21, if the person is mentally incapacitated, or if the person who caused the injuries left the state, you may have more time.

Can You Resolve the Dispute on your Own?

It never hurts to have an attorney on your side if you’re considering the possibility of suing another party. Not only can they help you take your case to court, but they may also be able to help you solve your dispute outside of court. Depending on the other party, you may also be able to settle your dispute out of court on your own.

It is true that you may end up settling for less than if you took them to court, but you’ll also avoid all the time, money, and stress that is involved, which may make it well worth your time.

How Much is a Lawyer Going to Cost?

You may be compensated by the responsible party, but you may not. It’s important to know how much legal fees cost, and whether or not you can find an attorney who only charges if there is a positive outcome in your case.

That’s a good start, but you should dig a little deeper. Even if the attorney charges based on contingency, their share may be so large that it would have been better to settle for less with the guilty party so you can avoid lawyers and the courtroom.

Do You Have the Time and Mental Resources?

Taking someone to court, regardless of the circumstances, is a lengthy process that can take months or even years. That can be a long time to hang in limbo, answer the summons, fill out paperwork, and talk back and forth with your attorney.

Suing someone can also cause a lot of mental distress. You’re forced to continue living the effects of your accident without the ability to move on, ruminating over the details of your case as they become relevant in a court of law. It’s important to think about whether or not you can handle the mental load of suing another party, or if you might need a therapist throughout the duration of your case.

Suing another party, regardless of the reason, can be a bigger challenge than many people expect until they are in the thick of it. By asking yourself these questions, you can better prepare yourself for the process before you reach out to an attorney.