You Can't Sue For What ALMOST Happened | Personal Injury Lawyers In Panama City
Personal injury lawyers in Panama City, FL are unique in the profession, working entirely on a contingent fee. Unlike say, divorce lawyers who mostly charge by the hour, a personal injury attorney must recover money damages for the client before they are paid. While this is beneficial for a client who wants to sue, it may also be one of the reasons a lawyer will decline a case if there are no real damages to be pursued.
Consider the following hypothetical phone call, a version of which I get every couple of weeks or so.
LAWYER: Hello, how can I help you?
CALLER: I want to sue someone.
LAWYER: Okay, why.
CALLER: This man was driving drunk, while texting, and speeding.
LAWYER: And he struck your car?
CALLER: No. He almost hit my car.
LAWYER: But…. he didn’t hit your car?
CALLER: No. But he could have killed me!
LAWYER: Was anyone hurt?
CALLER: No, but I already said — he could have killed me!
LAWYER: But he didn’t.
CALLER: No, I already said that!
This caller is angry, and rightly so. The drunk driver put many people in harm’s way, and will likely be charged with DUI by the police. However, there is no injury here, and therefore the caller has no case against the drunk driver.
Damages is the legal term for the value of an injury, almost entirely expressed in dollars and cents. People who are injured very often rack up enormous medical bills and lose time at work. When the injury is someone else’s fault, the victim should not have to pay out-of-pocket to get well. That, in essence, is how damages work.
No matter how dangerous the situation, the justice system doesn’t compensate for things that almost happened. So while the police might charge a drunk driver with DUI even if no one was hurt, in order to sue there must first be an accident with damages.
In future posts, we’ll be discussing the kinds of damages available to people who are indeed injured. This caller, on the other hand, should thank their lucky stars and go hug their kids.