DO I HAVE A CASE?
By: Julie Kreutzer
People often have had losses not covered by insurance and wonder if the other party is enough at fault under law to get their damages. I’ve reviewed a variety of civil matters like small business, landlord/tenant, probate and fiduciary issues, property damage and so forth. I review documents and potential claims for a possible case or cases on an hourly basis with a small retainer and then advise as to whether I think it’s a good case and best options available. The things that I look at are whether the facts and law are there for: 1) liability (whether client or other side is at fault and broke existing law), and 2) damages (whether there’s enough damages available under statute or commonlaw to make it worth pursuing); 3) Whether a judge, jury or administrative agency is likely to rule in your favor based on my experience litigating over the last 30 years, and 4) likelihood that the defendant has enough assets that can be reached to pay your damages if you reach a settlement or get a good verdict. Knowing if you have a case requires review of all four items and a final recommendation.
All of these variables matter because any successful case requires that the other side is liable, client is not at fault or less at fault and there are enough damages that can actually be obtained to make it worthwhile to pay an attorney hourly or contingency fee. I think it is best to discuss a budget for how much time a client wants me to spend on this review since it’s hard to say in advance whether I can recommend pursuing a case or cases and I do not want a client to be disappointed that they paid me and yet may not find it practical to pursue and get their damages. It’s also important to know up front that when I send an email detailing my opinion that it is just that; my opinion as an experienced attorney based on the information you gave me as to whether a case might be successful and worthwhile. Another attorney might have a different opinion. My analysis is also just a starting point for the client, because once they have the analysis they might ask me to pursue it, or for a referral to appropriate attorneys to litigate that case according to the type of specialty or they might decide not to pursue it. If you are interested in having me do this sort of review and analysis, I can set a free half hour consult to see if my review would be of use and if so, send you a fee agreement to review and sign, and we’ll discuss a retainer based on how much time you wish me to put into it. Your budget will depend on how many documents and cases you want me to look at and my hourly rate.