After an accident, people often wonder whether they have a case. When someone’s negligence causes another person harm, it’s common for an attorney to accept the case. However, there’s no guarantee. Below, we look at just a few reasons that a personal injury attorney might not accept a case.
However, if you sustain an injury due to another’s negligence, it’s always a good idea to schedule a free consultation with an attorney in your area in order to learn more about your legal options.
#1 The Details of the Accident
When an attorney reviews a case, they take a lot of the details into consideration. One of the most crucial aspects of a claim is how the accident happened. In order to hold someone accountable, they had to owe and breach a duty of care. Put simply, someone did something wrong, and that caused an injury.
This means they are liable for the injury. When an attorney doesn’t feel there is liability in the claim, they may decline the case. For instance, in a premises liability case, liability requires more than the fact that an accident happened in a specific place or that an injury is severe. Under the law, liability is essential in order to pursue compensation.
Here’s another example. Say you are supposed to yield the right-of-way at an intersection but don’t, causing another car to collide with yours. The fault is a question for a judge or jury to consider. However, it has the potential to put you at fault for the accident.
When a lawyer feels that the odds aren’t in their favor, they might decline the case. For a viable personal injury claim, an attorney has to prove that the other party was at fault. In Texas, they also have to show that their client carried less than 51% of the fault.
#2 You Spoke to and Retained Another Lawyer
It’s important for a victim to partner with the right attorney for their case. In part, this means ensuring your attorney has the experience and expertise necessary for the case. However, it is also about how personalities fit.
Finding the right attorney is a priority for every victim. However, “lawyer shopping” can make them wary of some victims.
Shopping for Lawyers
When a potential client appears to be “lawyer shopping,” some attorneys may pass on their case. In many cases, it’s difficult for attorneys to provide an accurate estimate for a settlement based on an initial consultation. It requires several different factors, including the coverage available. If the attorney feels that you are looking for the best feedback on your case or how much it is worth, they might not help you.
Additionally, victims should be wary of any attorney who provides claim valuation based on the initial consultation.
In some cases, people with unrealistic expectations for their claims are never satisfied with the outcome. When the law firm suspects this, they might decide to pass on the claim because they feel your expectations are out of line.
A Lawyer Dropped Your Case
If a lawyer “dropped” or “released” you as a client, it’s a red flag for other attorneys. When a case is unacceptable for one attorney, others think twice about taking it on. However, this is not a universal matter, and certain attorneys pride themselves on pursuing difficult claims.
#3 The Case Is Not Severe Enough
After an accident, it’s common for people to think, “I could have been killed!” Unfortunately, this is not evidence enough for a claim. Moreover, it does not mean that there will be viable damages in the claim. When the damages do not justify the expenses and time required for a case, an attorney may decline.
“It’s a matter of principle” is another red flag to attorneys. Generally speaking, this type of claim does not bring in much profit for the law firm.
Typically, lawyers who work on a contingency basis examine the expected recovery for a case. Speculation doesn’t bring in revenue, but hard damages do. In personal injury claims, the severity of an injury is a critical factor. If the injuries are minor, the expenses may outweigh the income.
Experienced attorneys estimate the time needed to handle a claim. When the return falls below their hourly rates, they are likely to decline the case.
#4 The Economic Reality
As mentioned, personal injury attorneys often work on a contingency basis. This means that they only earn money from cases that they settle or win. Moreover, this means that each case is a business decision.
Many factors go into whether an attorney accepts a case.
- Time needed
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Expected return
The more experience an attorney garners, the higher this number grows. While defense attorneys work on an hourly basis or a flat, upfront fee, personal injury attorneys don’t have that guarantee of pay.
Developing a Case Costs Money
When a firm accepts a case, it has to spend its own money in order to build and advance a claim. If a case involves a lot of legal hoops and expenses, it can deter even the most successful lawyers. Common examples include medical malpractice and product liability. Typically, the other side of these claims has a full team at its disposal while a law firm may be limited in its capacity.
Lack of Insurance Coverage
Another tough situation is when there is a high valuation of damages but not enough insurance coverage to meet it. When this gap occurs, there’s not enough funding to justify the expenses associated with the claim.
Denied By an Attorney? Keep Searching
When an attorney accepts a case on a contingency fee basis, it’s a risk for them and their firm. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, they might decline the case. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an impossible or unreasonable claim. You may just need to find the right attorney to be your advocate.