When a personal injury attorney assembles a claim or prepared a lawsuit, they have to think about how the other side might refute their client's case. Generally, defendants can lean on one of two possible arguments. They can raise questions of law or they can challenge the facts. Let's examine why this might be important to your case.
What Are Questions of Law and Fact?
A question of law is one that takes issue with whether the law says the defendant had a responsibility to prevent the plaintiff's injuries from happening. For example, someone walking past a house on fire doesn't have a legal obligation to save anyone who might be inside the building. This is because they haven't entered into any sort of arrangement that obliges them. Conversely, an auto accident attorney can easily argue that all drivers accept a duty to prevent people in other vehicles the moment they head out on the road.
Questions of fact, on the other hand, involve overtly challenging the plaintiff's version of events. Suppose a customer slipped and fell on a wet spot in a store. The customer claims there wasn't a "Wet Floor" sign to warn them, but the store's employees say they did, in fact, but out several signs. A court would have to make a determination of fact before the plaintiff might get compensation.
Tackling Questions of Law
Much of the difference between the two approaches hinges on a personal injury attorney argues the case. With a question of law, the attorney wants to show that the law is on their side. They might cite appeals court precedents that show similarly defendants were found liable.
Sometimes these cases involve a lot of hair-splitting. Suppose a weather-related case involves a force majeure claim, meaning the defendant says the weather made it impossible to protect the plaintiff from injury. At what point is that true? For example, the law expects shop owners to clear sidewalks of ice, but what if the ice storm occurred 30 seconds before the plaintiff was hurt? How long after a storm does the shop owner have before a reasonable person would expect them to clean the ice from the sidewalk?
Fighting on Questions of Fact
This type of case is easier to understand. A personal injury attorney will present police and medical reports, videos, photos, and eyewitness testimony to explain how the facts are on their client's side. The discovery process also allows the lawyer to force the defendant to produce any evidence they might have, such as surveillance or texts.