While it may sound cynical, lawsuits are really about money. Injured people initiate lawsuits because they need money to cover their medical bills, help them cope with disabilities and time off work, and replace lost or damaged property. In fact, a basic principle of the tort legal system is that almost all injuries can be converted into a dollar amount. Of course, attorneys also need to be paid in order to keep their practices open and continue serving clients, and finally the legal system itself costs money to operate. As a result, after all the legal questions have been addressed, all the evidence gathered, lawsuits come down to a collection effort. The amount due, whether from an insurance settlement or a court ordered judgment, must be paid or the entire effort will have been for nothing. Unfortunately, some defendants simply don’t have any money, or at least not enough to pay for the damages they caused. Even where money is available on paper, actually getting those dollars to the proper person can sometimes be challenging.
Because of these issues, one of the factors that significantly impacts the viability of a lawsuit is the predicted ability to collect on any positive outcome; in short, the question of whether or not the plaintiff can actually get paid at the end. There are many reasons why collecting on a judgment might be difficult. Sometimes even the best cases, those with clear liability on the part of the defendant and serious damages to the plaintiff, are just not viable in practice.