Five Reasons Why A Personal Injury Lawyer Won’t Take Your Case

I see people all the time who call around every lawyer in California, confused as to why their case is constantly turned down. Usually, a lawyer can tell with a few quick questions if you have a case or not, and most of the time we’ve trained our receptionists so they can tell if you are a suitable client or not. Here are some of the most common reasons why a personal injury lawyer wont take your case:

Most Cases Are Not Viable

While our firm represents hundreds of personal injury cases every year, every other law firm and we turn down numerous potential clients. I would estimate that only one out of ten people who contact us have a viable case.

It can be extremely frustrating to be turned down by a lawyer, but it is not personal. Because employment lawyers offer their services on a contingency fee basis, the front all client expenses and will only get this money back if they are successful. The more complicated or serious a case is, the more expensive it will be. Car accident cases can easily cost up to $15,000, and medical malpractice cases can easily cost up to $100,000.

So if your case is turned down by a lawyer, it is because they see it as a bad investment. Here are the top five reasons why a personal injury lawyer will turn down your case:

You Weren’t Seriously Injured

A major reason for turning down a case is because the plaintiff only suffered minor injuries. The more serious the injuries, the higher the value of the damages. Even if there is a clear case of negligence, a lawyer will not be prepared to invest the money in your case if they are not guaranteed a return. For example, a car accident case will cost a minimum of $5,000 upfront, and lawyers only get a percentage of your settlement, so if the case is not high value enough, they will not recoup the investment.

This can be difficult for accident victims to understand, especially when they feel they have been wronged by the liable party. However, the value of your case is the most important part.

Too Difficult To Prove Fault

Even if your case is high value because of the severity of your injuries, if it is difficult to prove fault, you are unlikely to have a case at all. This is because the requirement of a personal injury lawsuit is to prove that your damages were caused by the negligence of another person.

For example, if you fall over in a store due to a slippery floor, you have a case. If you fall over in a store because your shoelaces were untied, you do not have a case as the accident was due to your negligence, not the store’s.

Some medical malpractice cases such as birth injury cases are difficult to try, but the potential damages are high, so it is worth the risk. If the malpractice case only has limited damages, then the risk is not worth it.

Some cases we will take on principle when we feel the need for justice is higher than the risk of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. We take on these cases because we care about our community, and we know if we don’t take it, that no-one else will. However, we are extremely selective about the cases like this we take otherwise we would go bankrupt.

It is Past The Statute of Limitations

If the statute of limitations has already passed on your case, then you will not be able to file a lawsuit at all. The statute of limitations is two years in California, so you need to act fast to file your lawsuit. No matter the excuse for your inability to file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations, your case will not be considered.

The Defendant Does Not Have Money

Even if your case looks strong, if the defendant does not have the money to pay your legal compensation, then an attorney may not think it worth the investment. This can be a difficult one, so we will illustrate with an example.

You are hit by a motorbike while on the footpath, and you have several broken bones which run up large medical bills. You receive a good court verdict and successfully sue the bike rider for negligence to the tune of $100,000. However, a judgement from the court does not automatically mean you get paid.

The court does not do anything to enforce the judgement; it is just a piece of paper. In all likelihood, the bike rider will not have the $100,000 to pay your judgement. If his money and assets do not amount to the amount of the judgement, then you will not be able to collect the judgement. In most cases, you would collect the judgement from the defendant’s insurance company, but if the defendant does not have any insurance and no assets, then the case is a bad investment for a lawyer. Law firms will go for cases where they are suing insurance companies, hospitals, or corporations because the defendant will be able to pay the judgement.

No One Is Handling That Type of Case Anymore

Lawyers often try mass tort cases and drum up as many people as possible for their case. They either resolve the case with a settlement, or the case collapses. However, some lawyers will not take down their mass tort case page, and clients will seek legal advice. It is understandable that clients will be confused and will call even if we have pages explaining why we do not represent these cases anymore.

How To Make Your Case Interesting To A Lawyer

If you believe you have a case, then get in touch with our personal injury lawyers. We take on cases that other firms won’t touch because we care about our community and believe in the skill of our personal injury attorneys. Similarly, there have been cases that we have rejected that others have taken on and brought to a successful result.

Here are some ways to make your case more attractive to attorneys:

  • Show you are reasonable and have reasonable expectations. Lawyers will steer clear if a client is crazy, has unrealistic expectations, or does not present well.

  • Simplify your case, send a short description of the main points of your case. An attorney is unlikely to read through a 12-page description of all the things that happened in your case.

  • If a lawyer turns you down, ask them for a referral to who may take the case.

  • Start with the best personal injury lawyer in your area and work your way down.

Tell Us About Your Personal Injury Case

Even though we are selective about our cases, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from you. Contact us about your personal injury case to see how we can help you.

Brad Nakase, Attorney



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