On the surface of some personal injury cases, it may seem the facts are so overwhelming that winning should be simple, straightforward. But the reality is almost every case has its complications. There are specific proof burdens that must be met. Proper evidence has to entered in order for certain assertions to be accepted. Notifications have to be properly filed and in some instances, expert witness testimony may be necessary. All of this is even before trial.
This is why it is so important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney in every single case.
In the case of Holdaway v. Broulim’s Supermarket, a plaintiff with a seemingly legitimate case against a local supermarket did not seek legal counsel. Instead, he filed the action pro se, meaning on his own. Unsurprisingly, he was not successful. Although the case was appealed all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court, the justices affirmed findings by the lower court that plaintiff failed to present sufficient and appropriate evidence to support the assertion that the automatic door that closed on his leg caused his injuries.
According to court records in this personal injury action, plaintiff had been struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle in the summer of 2009. He underwent surgery to repair leg fractures and had to have a metal rod and screws placed into his leg.
Several weeks after that accident, plaintiff was leaving a supermarket on a motorized cart when an automatic door malfunctioned. It closed on his already-injured leg, causing one of the surgically-implanted screws to break.
Plaintiff would later assert the rod shifted as a result. However, his doctor could not remove the rod and screws before his broken leg healed. As a result, he said he suffered for more than a year with intense pain and now must have additional surgery.
In his lawsuit against the grocery store, plaintiff sought summary judgment within months of filing the case. This isn’t completely unheard of, but up to that point, he had presented no admissible evidence to support the assertion the malfunctioning door caused the screw in his leg to break. In his motion, he attached only a medical record, but there was nothing in there that connected the broken screw with the door incident. He made no mention to any of his doctors of the malfunctioning grocery store door.
Plaintiff responded by attaching a personal affidavit indicating he and his doctor had discussed the cause. However, statements referencing the doctor were struck from the record as hearsay.
Court then granted defense motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed, arguing the store had not been required to refute his claims. But of course, it was plaintiff who bore the burden of proof, and the higher courts underscored this fact in affirming trial court’s ruling, which essentially dismissed plaintiff’s case.
The bottom line is it is almost never advisable for someone to represent themselves in a legal action – whether it’s a criminal or civil matter. Some may find the cost of litigation daunting, but the fact is, without an attorney, the case is unlikely to get past the initial stages.
At our law offices in Rock Hill, we provide free initial consultations, and can help you to understand what your legal rights and obligations are following an incident resulting in injury.
Contact our Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Holdaway v. Broulim’s Supermarket, May 5, 2015, Idaho Supreme Court
More Blog Entries:
South Carolina Rep. Clyburn Injured in Car Accident, May 24, 2015, Rock Hill Injury Lawyer Blog