Let's be honest - We don't take every case that walks in the door. Sometimes people wonder why a lawyer will not accept their case. After someone has been injured in an auto collision, they may believe they have a case but can't find a lawyer to represent them. We put a lot of effort into investigating the facts of a collision and the client's injuries and damages before we agree to take on a case. Why are we so particular about the cases we take?
HOW THE COLLISION OCCURRED.
One of the earliest considerations by a lawyer is how the collision actually happened. In order to hold someone financially accountable, they had to breach a legal duty, or in layman’s terms, do something wrong that caused the injury. It is not enough that the injury happened in a motor vehicle or that the injuries are severe. An example would be that in a car crash, you were supposed to yield the right-of-way but the other driver struck your vehicle. Who was at fault for a collision is a question that the judge or jury must answer.
In order to have a viable personal injury claim, the injured person must be able to prove that the other party was at fault. If you may have been partly at fault, a lawyer may decline your case because the monetary award will be reduced or eliminated depending on the extent of your fault.
In short, a lawyer will analyze whether legal responsibility can be established and gauge the likelihood of success.
THE INJURIES ARE NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH.
We hear all the time “I could have been killed." That is not an element of damages to be submitted to a jury. Another saying that is a red flag to a lawyer is “it’s a matter of principle”. Generally, that type of claim does not put any butter on the bread for the lawyer.
Personal injury lawyers are looking for damages as a gauge of the expected recovery for handling a case. Speculative damages do not really help you hire a lawyer.
In personal injury cases, how bad you are hurt is the most important factor in a case. If your injuries are minor, a lawyer may pass on your case because the expected monetary compensation will likewise be minimal. Additionally, the cost of developing the testimony to prove your injuries has to be factored into the lawyer's analysis. If the cost of the expected depositions exceeds the expected return on the case, a lawyer most likely will not accept the case.
YOU SOUND LIKE YOU'VE TALKED TO A LOT OF OTHER LAWYERS.
We believe it is extremely important for personal injury victims to select the right lawyer for their case. This includes making sure that the lawyer has expertise in the subject area and that they are a good personal fit. Nevertheless, many cases are turned down because the potential client appears to be looking to select the lawyer based upon the feedback they receive on the value of the case.
It is almost impossible for a lawyer to give a client a value of the case before the lawyer knows all of the facts, including the insurance coverage available. Victims should be wary of attorneys placing a value on a claim after the first consultation.
Further, if you have been “released” or “dropped” from another law firm, we will be wary of the case from either a liability perspective or an unreasonable expectation perspective.
THE ECONOMIC REALITY OF PURSUING THE CASE.
Personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency fee basis. This requires the lawyer to make a business judgment on each case they agree to handle. Factored into that business judgment is such things as the amount of time that the lawyer expects to spend on the case, the out-of-pocket costs for the attorney to develop the case, and the expected fee. The lawyer must consider whether the time, effort, and money are worth it.
To put this in perspective, defense attorneys are paid by the hour for each minute they spend on a matter and the defense attorney gets paid whether they win or lose the case.
Another situation that proves difficult is when the personal injury victim has substantial injuries and also huge medical obligations for the treatment. This can come into play when the available insurance to cover the damages is insufficient.
Before we agree to represent a client, we make sure injured people understand all benefits and risks involved in our proposed course of action. Our goal is to give clients the tools needed to make an informed decision for themselves. With our law firm, you can expect an honest, straightforward evaluation of your case, both pros and cons. If we can be of service to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment for a free initial consultation.