You slipped and fell in a restaurant.
You were rear ended at an intersection.
Your doctor prescribed medication and you had unpleasant side effects.
You tripped on a curb in the parking lot of a major retail chain.
There are several things you should consider before hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit. Civil litigators have seen Plaintiffs panic when they realize, by filing a lawsuit, that sensitive information they’d rather leave in the past gets dredged up. While there’s no question that a person who is legitimately injured because of someone else’s negligence should be compensated, you need to consider these 6 things first and ask yourself if a lawsuit is really worth it.
1. Opening the Door to Embarrassing Aspects of your Medical History
By seeking damages for physical injuries and mental anguish, you will open the door to your complete medical history. This includes medical treatment for reasons unrelated to the accident at issue. Touchy information such as gynecology records, family counseling notes, and primary care histories are all discoverable. While some of the information in these records may not be admissible at trial, they are permitted for discovery purposes and, depending on the nature of your lawsuit and number of parties involved, you will have several lawyers, paralegals, support staff, court personnel, and occasionally even judges, reading them.
- If you’ve ever completed an initial patient intake form at your primary care physician’s office and reported that you’ve had a miscarriage, abortion, or large number of sexual partners, the attorneys will know about it.
- If you’ve ever attended psychological therapy and reported that you’ve been the victim of abuse, the attorneys will know about it.
2. Your Employment History is Known
Even if you’re not making a wage loss claim, the attorneys will have access to your employment records. Courts routinely permit attorneys to obtain a Plaintiff’s employment records for jobs held before the date of the injury.
- If you’ve ever reported a workplace injury to an employer, the attorneys will know about it.
- If you’ve ever had a major dispute with one of your colleagues and the records are placed in your employment file, the attorneys will know about it.
- If you’ve ever angrily hit “send” on a shameful email to a coworker and it was addressed by HR and placed in your employment file, the attorneys will know about it and you might look like a jerk. How embarrassing.
3. Your Criminal History could Haunt You
It’s not uncommon for people to make mistakes.
- Ever get an open container citation in college? The attorneys will know about it.
- Ever fail to renew your car insurance? The attorneys will know about it.
- Ever been involved in seeking a restraining order against someone for domestic violence? The attorneys will know all the gory details.
While people would rather leave the past in the past, a jury will know if you’ve ever committed a felony or a crime involving dishonesty because that is admissible in nearly all states.
Unfortunately, when you file a lawsuit, the past doesn’t stay in the past.
4. Big Brother is Watching
Attorneys check up on Plaintiffs through Google searches, social media, and occasionally by hiring investigators to “stake out” their homes. This is because they want to see if the Plaintiff is performing activities that contradict their injuries and to locate potential witnesses.
- For instance, a Plaintiff testified at her deposition that she can’t leave the house because she’s depressed, yet she “checked in” online at a Taylor Swift concert with ten of her friends (all of whom are now potential witnesses regarding her injuries).
- Or a Plaintiff claims he has no movement in his ankles, yet a Google search reveals he recently finished a 10k run with an impressively fast time.
- Or a Plaintiff alleges she has difficulty standing and twisting her body, yet she posted pictures on Facebook of herself dancing to the Macarena and doing the limbo at a wedding reception.
These are all examples of impeachment material that will diminish the value of your case and will make you look dishonest.
If you are going to file a lawsuit, be conscientious regarding the information about you in cyberspace. This includes information that you post on the internet, and information that other people post about you, especially including potentially damaging pictures. Even if you have a private social media account that you believe is accessible only by friends, courts have required Plaintiffs to provide their social media history, to include their timelines, status updates, pictures, and comments.
5. You May Have an Appearance of Being Litigious
Attorneys always check a Plaintiff’s history of filing claims and lawsuits. A person who has sued ten times in five years is perceived as either unlucky or plain litigious. It’s usually the latter.
Before you file a lawsuit, consider whether it’s worth it. There may come a time when you are legitimately injured in an accident, and you don’t want to have a claims history that makes you look like The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
6. You are Exposing Yourself to Major Medical Expenses
If you make a claim for physical injuries, you will be sent to a multitude of doctors that your attorney recommends for orthopedic consultations, diagnostic studies, laboratory testing, chiropractic treatment, physical therapy and, depending on the severity of your injuries, steroid injections or surgery. This is expensive. If the services aren’t covered by your insurance, or you don’t have insurance, the doctors will sometimes permit you to pay the balance out of the settlement proceeds. More information about this subject can be found from Ohio valley personal injury lawyers.
Guess what happens if your case is poor and is settled for less than the amount of your medical bills?
You’re still on the hook.
I’m broke and the doctor will never be able to collect these fees.
The doctor can seek a lien against you individually. That can impact your credit and will appear on your record if you try to get a loan.
While someone who is legitimately injured because of another person’s negligence deserves to be compensated for their injuries, the public needs to be aware of potential complications and the disclosure of uncomfortable information before deciding whether to follow through with a claim.
Meet Jennifer Burby: Daily Expert
Jennifer Burby is a full time attorney, wife, mama, baby booty-wiper, snot cleaner-upper, drowning preventer, and The Grand Poobah of her parenting & lifestyle blog, The Champagne Supernova. She attended law school at The University of Florida and is a civil litigator at a large firm in Tampa. When she’s not busy parenting or lawyering, Jennifer enjoys reading, writing, running, and listening to live music. Follow Jennifer & The Champagne Supernova on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram!
Photo Credits: Pixabay
Information contained in this post does not constitute legal advice and should not be substituted for professional legal counsel. Daily Mom is not liable for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.