1. Is the conduct of the potential defendant actionable?
Some things are unethical or immoral, but do not give rise to a claim
that can be brought in court. Depending on the unique circumstances and
laws applicable to each case, we will be able to decide whether, in our
opinion, your case merits legal action. It is important for you to understand
the difference between immorality and illegality; sadly people sometimes
commit indecent and unethical actions towards others, however many of
these do not cross the line and become actionable in court. We can help
you separate the wheat from the chaff.
2. What defenses might the potential defendant have?
Sometimes a plaintiff (the person suing) has a good case, but the defendant
has an equally good and valid defense that can leave the plaintiff without
a remedy. For example, in a Maryland case based on negligence (such as
professional or medical malpractice), if the injury of the plaintiff was
caused even in part by the plaintiff's own negligence, the plaintiff
cannot recover in court. Another example: a plaintiff that is a corporation
must be in good standing to use the courts. A defendant may be able to
have a case delayed or even dismissed if the entity's charter has
been forfeited. These factors will not go away by themselves and cannot
be ignored. In our case evaluation process, we can sometimes identify
and help a client fix such problems before they become an issue. In other
cases, however, we may have to conclude that a defense is insurmountable,
and the best service we can render is to help a client avoid wasting time
and energy on a lost cause.
3. Is the case plausible and what evidence is available to prove the plaintiff's claim?
Is the case based on a "swearing contest" (the word of the plaintiff
against the word of the defendant) or are there corroborating witnesses
or evidence? Are the plaintiff's witnesses credible? Would a judge
or jury believe that the plaintiff deserves to recover?
4. How much money is at stake?
In the United States, each party is responsible for its own attorney's
fees and cannot recover such fees from the other party unless there is
a statute providing for the award of attorney's fees to a prevailing
party (such as in claims under the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act)
or the parties have agreed that such fees may be recovered (such as a
provision in a contract). Because of this reality, it may not make economic
sense to bring some cases because the cost of litigating may be too high
in proportion to the expected outcome. We can help you understand the
5. Where can (or must) suit be brought?
Some courts have rules that make it easier to have a plaintiff's case
thrown out than in other courts. Sometimes a case can only be brought
as an arbitration. Some jurisdictions have a reputation for low jury awards.
Although we have confidence in the integrity of our courts and juries,
it is a fact of life that in the eyes of attorneys and insurance companies,
a case may have a higher or lower settlement value based on where suit
can or must be brought.
6. Would a judgment be collectible?
Even if the case has substantial value, sometimes the wrongdoer is in
financial trouble and would not be able to satisfy a judgment. Except
where the wrongdoer's misconduct was intentional or fraudulent, a
judgment against a wrongdoer can be wiped out if the wrongdoer files and
completes a bankruptcy. On the other hand, a claim against a defendant
with relatively modest finances may still be maintained if the wrongdoer
had insurance that would cover damages caused by the wrongful act.
7. What kinds of out-of-pocket expenses will the case require?
A case with only a few local witnesses can be brought to trial with a modest
out-of-pocket investment. On the other hand, if there are many witnesses---especially
witnesses that are located outside the jurisdiction where suit is brought--it
can be much more expensive to obtain evidence and testimony required to
prove the case. Likewise, a case that requires expert witnesses such as
doctors, economists, accountants, or engineers, can be very expensive
on this basis alone. In the vast majority of cases, parties cannot be
reimbursed for expert witnesses' fees and expenses. The more out-of-pocket
expenses that will be required in your case, the less you are likely to
benefit fully from a favorable outcome to your case.
8. What resources are available to the defendant in comparison with the
In a war of attrition, the side with the larger bankroll wins. However,
contingent fee arrangements are sometimes available to help level the
playing field. In such cases, the lawyer would be making an investment
in your case, so the case must have sufficient merit and likelihood of
collection to justify the investment.
How can we help you?
If you are seeking legal representation or are seeking to determine whether
your case can be pursued, a
Maryland civil litigation attorney would be glad to discuss it with you. In our consultation, we can provide
you with suggestions, answers, and advice about your case. If we choose
to offer our services to represent you and you choose to engage our services,
you can be sure that we will aggressively pursue your rights, your goals
and your desires regarding the outcome of your case.
Contact our firm today for a
case evaluation and to discuss your options.