How a lawsuit is like your mother's cookies
Many of us have favorite family recipes – our mother's cookies, our aunt's cornbread or our father's barbecue sauce. If you've ever tried to recreate one of these recipes, you know that the first thing you must have is a list of the exact ingredients that were used. Without each and every item on the list, the final product just won't taste right.
A lawsuit is like that, too. Without all of what we call the “necessary elements,” your case will not be a success, and you may be left with something much worse than a bad taste in your mouth.
Each type of case requires a specific set of facts. All of those facts must be verified before a person or a company can successfully seek a monetary verdict or other relief The factual elements needed for a specific cause of action can come from state or federal law, a constitution, statute, judicial precedent, or administrative regulation.
Each cause of action also has its own elements. For example, in order to establish negligence for a car accident or a slip-and-fall in a grocery store, you must be able to prove four elements: a duty, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages.
A lawyer must be able to recognize and analyze the facts in your case, regardless of what kind of case you have.
People who speak with attorneys about their potential cases don't always understand the specific facts they will need, or what kind of lawsuit will be the most appropriate one to file. That's where the lawyer's legal training and experience comes in.
Attorneys have to know which of the potential client’s facts meet the requirements for filing a particular kind of case. A good attorney will ask a great number of questions in order to determine whether a potential client has a case that can be filed and won.
That's why clients need to meet with their attorneys and keep an open mind about what legal actions are appropriate.