Why Won’t the Lawyer Take My Personal Injury Case?
Although anyone who has been injured is entitled to file a lawsuit, many seeking legal representation are frustrated by the refusal of certain attorneys to take on their case. There are a variety of reasons that a lawyer might refuse to take you on as a client, many of them having nothing to do with the strength of your case. Here are ten possible reasons why an attorney might turn you down:
1) They lack the expertise
A responsible lawyer will not take a case in an area of law or that involves facts with which they are unfamiliar. For example, an attorney specializing in criminal law or intellectual property, with no experience handling personal injury cases, would be irresponsible in taking on a personal injury client. Additionally, lawyers are busy and time is money in the legal profession. A lawyer lacking experience in personal injury cases would likely be unwilling to spend the extra time required to familiarize themselves with this area of law.
2) There is a conflict of interest
A conflict of interest is a situation in which two competing interests are incompatible. For a lawyer deciding whether to take on a client, they need to weigh potential conflicts before agreeing to take the case. For example, if they or their firm represent the defendant to your case, or their representation of you would negatively affect another of their existing clients, this would present a conflict.
3) They are too busy
Attorneys are extremely busy, and sometimes a lawyer with an already maxed-out caseload will be unable to take on new clients.
4) They cannot afford to take your case
In addition to practicing law, many personal injury attorneys and firms, especially Riverside, CA attorneys, also operate as small businesses, and face associated and substantial financial constraints. They must consider the cost not only of the attorney’s salary, but also the cost of paying paralegals and support staff, researchers and experts, supplies, and other associated expenses when deciding which cases to take. If your case is too small, they may not be able to afford to take you on as a client.
5) You live too far away
This relates to the problem of cost outlined above—if you or the defendant to your case lives far away or out-of-state, the lawyer may have to travel in order to take depositions, meet with the defendant’s lawyer, or attend hearings. For example, if your personal injury attorney practices out of Riverside, CA, but you live in Eureka, flights between the two locations cost $80 at a minimum and take roughly an hour and a half, not including travel to and from the airports. The time and cost of this travel can add up, and some lawyers may be unable to afford these expenses.
6) The statute of limitations has passed
All personal injury cases have a statute of limitations—in other words, a legally mandated expiration date following the incident causing injury before which the lawsuit must be filed. In California, including Riverside, CA, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of injury. If your injury happened more than two years ago, or the lawyer doesn’t believe they will be able to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, they will not take your case.
7) The damages in the case are too low
This is again related to the question of cost. If the damages you are requesting in your claim are too low, a lawyer may determine that the expense of taking your case outweighs the potential compensation.
8) There is little hope of collecting a settlement
Although you may have a strong case with sufficient damages to justify the cost of filing a lawsuit, it may be the case that the defendant to the case is unlikely to have the resources to actually pay a settlement or judgment. In such cases, a lawyer may be unwilling to spend the time and money filing even a winning lawsuit for which they (and you) are unlikely to ever be paid.
9) You carry too much blame for your injury
If, based on the facts of your case, the lawyer determines that you are substantially at fault for your own injury, they may refuse to take your case. California is what is known as a ‘pure comparative negligence’ jurisdiction. In other words, although you may be partially at fault for your own injury, you can still be awarded partial compensation. However, if the lawyer believes that your degree of fault is too high, they may decline to take your case.
10) Your expectations are unrealistic
Simply put, lawyers will consider not only the facts of the case, but also their potential relationship with the client when considering whether to take on a case. If you demonstrate unrealistic expectations, for example expecting higher compensation than that to which you are entitled, or insisting on pushing forward with a weak case, a lawyer may be concerned about having to manage these expectations in the future, and will be less likely to want to work with you.
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you should prioritize finding an experienced personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at Wagner and Pelayes, LLP have helped many injured clients in and around the Riverside and San Bernardino areas to recuperate compensation while they recovered from their injuries. Call our Riverside, CA attorneys today for a free consultation about your case at 951-686-4800 or toll free at 866-748-8753.