Legal Nurse Consulting: Lesson 4
Lesson 4: Full-Screen View
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A Civil Case From Start to Finish
In this lesson, we will examine a civil case from start to finish, and I'll explain the important steps that all civil cases follow and define important legal terminology. We'll also take a look at the increasingly important role played by legal nurse consultants in all phases of civil cases. But first, let's talk about Charles and Julia Doe: It was a clear, beautiful day in August last year. Charles Doe and his wife Julia had just finished a day of shopping and were driving home. Both in their late 60s and retired, they enjoyed spending time together. In order to get to their house, they had to turn off the main highway and drive down a side street. There is only one intersection on the street, where a railroad track crosses the road. They had crossed this track hundreds of times before. Charles had noticed, in recent months, that it was growing increasingly difficult to look for trains on the track because of the thick trees that had grown up at the intersection. In order to see an oncoming train, a motorist would have to slow down, edging out onto the track and craning his head to see in both directions. On August 20 of last year, Charles and Julia crossed this track for the last time. There is no dispute about the fact that the train, owned and operated by XX Railroad Company, struck the Doe's car on the passenger side. The train was going 25 mph, and Julia was killed instantly. The car was impaled on the locomotive and pushed 200 feet down the track before it fell off to the side. Fortunately for Charles, there was a fire station less than a quarter of a mile away, and the emergency response team got to the scene in less than five minutes. They weren't able to do anything for Julia, but they used their equipment to pry Charles out of the car and then airlifted him to a nearby hospital. Charles was severely injured. He had blunt trauma to his abdomen, blood-filled lungs, brain damage, and a broken left femur. Charles was not expected to live. In fact, he was in a coma for 63 days before he awoke. Yesterday, Charles met with a local law firm and asked them to take his case. The firm is giving the case some serious consideration, but as the attorneys have done with all of their recent cases, they would like to get your opinion as a legal nurse consultant. At this point, what do you need to know about civil lawsuits so that you can give an informed opinion not just about the client's medical injuries but also about how they fit into the overall scheme of a civil case? In Lesson 2, we saw that criminal cases and civil cases operate differently from one another. In order to bring a civil case, the plaintiff must have a cause of action. A cause of action is a legally recognized wrong that gives the injured person the right to receive compensation. On the face of the facts in this case, there doesn't seem to be much question about a cause of action. Charles was severely injured when the train struck his car. He also has a cause of action for the death of his wife, although we will explore that aspect of the case in greater detail in a future lesson. Charles has been injured. Does that mean that the firm will take the case? If they do, what kind of involvement will you—as a legal nurse consultant—have? Let's start by revealing how law firms evaluate new cases. Know the Lingo: A cause of action is a claim that the legal system recognizes as legitimate and actionable.
How Law Firms Evaluate Cases
Law firms don't take cases just because they feel sorry for their clients. They also don't take every case that walks through the door. Any law firm that did that would be...
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