It can be difficult to know when you need to hire a personal injury attorney to handle an injury claim. In most cases, consulting with a lawyer is a good idea. An attorney can explain your legal rights and your options for holding a negligent party liable for your injuries, losses, and damages.
However, what happens when a lawyer decides not to take your case? Does that mean you do not have a valid legal case? Could the refusal to take your case simply be a matter of personality?
If a lawyer states that he will not take your case, you need to know why. The reason could be a matter of personal preference, but it could also be a legal matter that you need to understand.
Five Reasons Why A Personal Injury Attorney May Refuse to Take a Case
1. The Attorney Has a Conflict of Interest
An attorney has a duty to protect your best interests. Attorneys have sworn to follow specific rules of professional conduct and ethics. Therefore, if the attorney has a conflict of interest, he has a duty to decline your case.
A conflict of interest could arise if the attorney represented a person that may be a party in your case. The good news is that this reason has nothing to do with your case. You need to consult another personal injury attorney about handling your case.
2. The Statute of Limitations Has Expired
The Statute of Limitations sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit for an injury claim. The deadlines for filing a lawsuit may vary by case. For example, medical malpractice claims may have different deadlines for filing lawsuits than car accidents.
If the deadline has expired, there is nothing that the attorney can do to help you. For that reason, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after being injured.
3. You are Partially to Blame for the Cause of Your Injury
To recover compensation for an injury claim, you must prove that the other party was responsible for causing your injury. If you were partially at fault for the cause of your injury, your negligence offsets the other party’s liability.
Under California’s comparative fault laws, your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for the cause of the accident. In other words, if you are 70 percent at fault, the money you receive for your claim is reduced by almost three-fourths.
An attorney may determine that the case is not worth fighting because fault is in dispute, and your negligence may result in very low claim value. In other words, the attorneys’ time and cost in taking the case would not be worth the potential fees he would receive.
4. A Lack of Damages
You must prove that you sustained damages to recover compensation for an injury claim. A personal injury lawyer carefully reviews the case to determine if there is evidence of damages.
Damages in an injury claim include medical expenses, loss of income, mental anguish, physical pain, and emotional suffering. If the attorney cannot establish damages, he may decline to take your case.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. Attorneys receive a percentage of the total settlement amount for their attorneys’ fees. If there are very few damages, an attorney may decide the case is not worth taking because the fee would be too small to cover his time and expenses.
5. Your Case is Out of State
An attorney must be licensed to practice in a state before he can represent clients. If your case occurred out of state or requires an out-of-state lawsuit, the attorney may decline to take the case. For cases filed in another state, the attorney may need to work with a local attorney or petition for special permission to appear in court without being admitted to the bar.
Even if your case is filed in your home state, if the defendant is out-of-state, the travel costs for depositions and investigations may be too expensive, especially if the claim is small.
You Are Entitled to A Second Opinion
If an attorney does not take your case, you have the right to seek counsel from another attorney. It can be helpful to know why the attorney did not take your case so that you can address that matter with another lawyer. Make careful notes during each meeting so that you compare what each attorney said about your case.
It can be frustrating and time-consuming, but it can be helpful to meet with several personal injury attorneys before deciding which attorney is right for your case.