While mistakes and accidents that lead to injury or death aren’t considered criminal actions, they are illegal. And that illegality can be resolved in a courtroom, where a lawsuit holds the responsible person or group accountable and makes them pay out as compensation to the victims.
However, the best chance at succeeding in a lawsuit is having a lawyer represent you. But there are times when, even if an injury wasn’t your fault, a lawyer, after reviewing the case, may not agree to take it on. Why would this happen? Here the five most common reasons a lawyer won’t take on a personal injury case.
Too Much Time Has Passed
In this case, a lawyer would refuse a case simply because nothing can be done. Crimes like murder have no statute of limitations. This means that even if a murderer is finally caught decades after committing the crime, it’s possible to go to trial and get a verdict.
Injury cases, however, have a statute of limitations, meaning if too much time has passed, the law considers the event no longer relevant. For example, someone was in a car accident that resulted in paralysis and using a wheelchair. The other driver was clearly at fault. If the accident victim decides to sue 30 years later, a lawyer would realize the statute of limitations was for within four years of the injury, and the court wouldn’t even hear the case.
It’s Not In The Area Of Specialty
In some instances, you may not be approaching the right lawyer. For example, suppose you get into a car accident and go to a personal injury lawyer. In that case, that practice might not be experienced in this area. Different legal practices will have different areas of specialty. Some lawyers focus on “slip and fall” cases of premises liability, where the injury occurred on someone else’s property. Thus a lot of property law knowledge is required.
Other lawyers may specialize in boating accidents, or trucking accidents, or even other areas, such as workers compensation or criminal law. If you get into an accident where a death has occurred, a lawyer without experience in wrongful death cases may not feel confident about taking on your cases with so much unfamiliar territory to cover.
Conflict Of Interest
Sometimes past professional associations or professional ethics prevent a lawyer from taking on a case. A lawyer with previous involvement in an organization you are pursuing a litigation case against should, professionally, be obligated to step aside. If you want to sue a company for a slip and fall case, for example, and the lawyer you are approaching has previously represented that same company, this is a clear conflict of interest. Professional ethics dictate the lawyer should not get involved in this case.
The same is true if the lawyer is a friend or even a family member of the person or group you want to take legal action against.
The Finances Don’t Make Sense
When it comes to personal injury cases, many attorneys get a fee on contingency. This means that they don’t get paid unless they win the case for you. However, there are some instances where even if a case looks like it can be easily won, it doesn’t make sense for the lawyer—or you—to take it on.
For example, you sue someone for personal injury in a car accident. That person is both uninsured and unemployed, with little in the way of savings. Even if you’ve won the case, there’s very little chance you’ll get any money back in compensation, simply because there isn’t any. While you may want to sue for the principle of it, the lawyer has meanwhile expended time and resources on a case with no payment for them at the end of it.
Lack Of Resources
When a lawyer works on a contingency basis for a personal injury case, this still requires time and resources. Hunting down witnesses, securing expert testimony, handling legal and administrative costs like postage and contracts can sometimes push legal expenses into the five-figure range even before setting foot in the courtroom.
The lawyer may decide that the financial resources—or more commonly, the time—aren’t there to accommodate what would need to be done to win the court case. If the lawyer already has a full plate or a partner or other associate has just left the firm, creating a hole in available staff, this can make it difficult to give a case the attention it deserves.
If you have any questions about a potential case, however, always ask an experienced attorney..