Accidents are expensive. Between medical bills and lost wages, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the financial consequences of an unexpected crash or fall. Filing an injury claim or personal injury lawsuit for damages can help to make a tough situation a little bit easier.
Hiring a personal injury attorney can significantly increase the likelihood of securing substantial compensation. However, just because you’ve been injured doesn’t mean a lawyer will agree to take your case. Here are the top five reasons why that might be true.
You’ve Shopped Your Case Around Too Much
Most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to prospective clients. This allows accident victims to find out if they have a legitimate case and gives attorneys a chance to get clients in the door. It’s a good idea to speak with at least one personal injury attorney. It’s also a good idea to get a second opinion, especially if you’re not thrilled with what the first lawyer had to say about your case.
However, attorneys may begin to get suspicious if you’ve already consulted four, five, or six other local attorneys about your case. Why? Even if nothing jumps out and seems to indicate there’s a problem with your case, the fact that other attorneys have declined to represent you is a big red flag.
Maybe those other attorneys saw something this new attorney didn’t. Or, maybe you’ve left out a crucial piece of information that’s caused other personal injury lawyers to decline to take your case. Whatever the reason, the fact that you’ve sought multiple opinions might do more harm than good.
The Risk Isn’t Worth the Reward
Personal injury lawyers typically work on what’s known as a contingency basis. Rather than charging legal fees upfront, these attorneys agree to take a case in exchange for a percentage of the financial award they secure. By doing this, personal injury lawyers are essentially betting on themselves and their ability to win the case.
Lawyers will do a risk assessment before agreeing to take on a new client. They’ll carefully consider what it might cost to represent you and handle your case. Then they’ll compare that to the financial award they think they can realistically recover from at-fault parties and/or insurance companies. They’ll weigh the likelihood of success against the costs. This will help to inform whether or not the risk of taking your case is worth the potential reward.
For example, an attorney might decline to take your case if you’ve only sustained minor injuries. Let’s say that your damages equal $2,500. If your attorney were to recover that on your behalf, they’d only walk away with a few hundred dollars, at most. In that case, the time and cost it would take to handle your case might not be worth the projected financial recovery.
You Share Too Much of the Blame
You’re not the only one who will ask questions during an initial consultation. The lawyer you’re interviewing is also trying to get a sense of your case – including its strengths and weaknesses. One thing they’ll be trying to ascertain is whether you share fault for your accident. If so, they’ll try to gauge much of that fault will likely be allocated to you.
Why? States have laws regarding what happens when victims contribute to the accidents that cause their injuries. Some have contributory fault rules, which bar financial recovery if you share fault. Others have comparative fault rules, which don’t bar recovery, but adjust your damages to reflect your degree of responsibility.
Others, like Texas, have rules called modified comparative fault that fall somewhere in between. According to Ted Lorenz, an attorney who practices in Waco, TX, In modified comparative negligence states, you can be barred from recovering compensation if you share more than a certain amount of the blame for an accident. In Texas, recovery is prohibited if you’re more than 50 percent to blame. Liability of less than 50 percent will still impact your take-home damages.
If an attorney suspects that you’re primarily responsible for your accident, and there’s not much evidence to dispute that – they might decline to take your case. In fact, they might even tell you that you don’t have a case, at all. Even if you’re only partly to blame, that will still affect your financial recovery. In that situation, the risk of taking your case might not warrant a slim recovery.
It’s Just Not a Good Fit
Sometimes a personal injury lawyer might not want to take your case because it’s just not a good fit.
Maybe your personalities clash and the attorney doesn’t think you’ll get along. Attorneys and clients can spend long hours together. Some lawyers might decline to take on clients who are seen as difficult or overly demanding.
Or, maybe the lawyer suspects that you’re not being forthcoming and are holding back some relevant details. Trust is a fundamental element of an attorney-client relationship. If there’s no trust, that will hurt the case.
It might not have anything to do with you, in particular. A lawyer could decide that your case involves a very specialized area of the law that they just don’t handle too frequently. In that case, they might decide that it’s better to recommend another attorney’s services.
It’s also possible that the attorney has a conflict, and just can’t take your case. If representing you would create a potential problem for the lawyer’s other clients, they might even be prohibited from doing so under state bar ethics rules.