CIVIL LIABILITY IN GENERAL – THE TRIPOD OF CIVIL LITIGATION

By September 13, 2012Uncategorized

By Matthew B. Drexler
Partner and Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

THE GASPER LAW GROUP represents clients involved in or wishing to pursue a civil claim against another. Civil disputes are lawsuits or claims brought to address a private wrong such as breach of contract, negligence or intentional conduct or to enforce civil remedies such as compensation, damages or injunctions. Civil disputes are not criminal and are not brought by the government but rather by a private party or company against another private party or company.

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Civil disputes range from business deals gone wrong, to neighbor disputes, to enforcement of contractual rights and to personal injuries. The scope of civil remedies and civil actions is extremely broad; however, all civil disputes have three universal traits that must first be analyzed when evaluating a potential claim: (1) Liability, (2) Damages and (3) Collectability (a.k.a the “Tripod of Civil Litigation”). A civil claim is viable if all three legs of the Tripod are standing.

Liability refers to who may be liable or at fault in a particular case. For example, in a motor vehicle accident, we look at who was responsible for the accident (as it turns out, liability can be apportioned or divided among several drivers or factors so an analysis of liability is a bit more complicated that it may first seem).

Damages refer to a party’s injury, loss or financial impact. For example, in a breach of contract claim, we look for whether a party has suffered an impact for the other party’s breach. In another example, we may examine the extent of a person’s injuries after a slip and fall accident.

Collectability refers to the ability of a party to collect a judgment from the other party. After all, it may not be advisable to file a lawsuit against someone who will never have the ability to pay a judgment or verdict.

The main point here is that all three elements must be satisfied. A strong liability case with significant damages may not be viable if you can’t collect in the end. The common example is an uninsured driver without assets or even the potential to ever earn significant income. The good news is that judgments issued in Colorado’s District Courts are good for 20 years and are potentially revivable after that. Depending on a client’s patience and risk tolerance, it may be worthwhile to pursue litigation.

We are often approached by potential clients who have a tremendously favorable liability case against a major, well-insured corporation (read: favorable collectability); however, the injuries are so minor that the damages do not warrant the time and expense of fully litigating a case.

Although rarer, we have encountered folks who have been severely injured yet liability was weak. This scenario can be encountered in a serious motor vehicle accident where the injured party was actually responsible for the collision. Again, this is a fact intensive inquiry and you should not draw a conclusion about liability in a civil suit without speaking to a qualified attorney.

The Tripod of Civil Litigation is fairly straightforward and appears simple to apply or analyze. However, from experience the analysis is oftentimes much more complex and can involve analyzing multiple parties, competing legal theories (e.g. negligence vs. premises liability), and multiple insurance or liability policies.

Before suit is filed and before you decide to retain THE GASPER LAW GROUP, we will analyze each leg of the tripod to determine the viability of your particular case. We provide straightforward, candid advice and present our clients with our best advice on how to proceed, if at all. We offer free consultations and will share our analysis of liability, damages and collectability; and if we don’t have enough information to immediately analyze your case, we will tell you instead of pretending we have answers and information that may not be immediately available.

* Matthew B. Drexler is a Partner & Attorney practicing in the Civil & Business Litigation Division at The Gasper Law Group, PLLC located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Mr. Drexler can be reached at (719) 227-7779 for more information.


We are often approached by potential clients who have a tremendously favorable liability case against a major, well-insured corporation (read: favorable collectability); however, the injuries are so minor that the damages do not warrant the time and expense of fully litigating a case.

Although rarer, we have encountered folks who have been severely injured yet liability was weak. This scenario can be encountered in a serious motor vehicle accident where the injured party was actually responsible for the collision. Again, this is a fact intensive inquiry and you should not draw a conclusion about liability in a civil suit without speaking to a qualified attorney.

The Tripod of Civil Litigation is fairly straightforward and appears simple to apply or analyze. However, from experience the analysis is oftentimes much more complex and can involve analyzing multiple parties, competing legal theories (e.g. negligence vs. premises liability), and multiple insurance or liability policies.

Before suit is filed and before you decide to retain THE GASPER LAW GROUP, we will analyze each leg of the tripod to determine the viability of your particular case. We provide straightforward, candid advice and present our clients with our best advice on how to proceed, if at all. We offer free consultations and will share our analysis of liability, damages and collectability; and if we don’t have enough information to immediately analyze your case, we will tell you instead of pretending we have answers and information that may not be immediately available.

* Matthew B. Drexler is a Partner & Attorney practicing in the Civil & Business Litigation Division at The Gasper Law Group, PLLC located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Mr. Drexler can be reached at (719) 227-7779 for more information.