4 Reasons Why a Personal Injury Lawyer Will Not Take Your Case
David Muñoz | November 22, 2021 | Personal Injury
You might think you have an airtight injury claim, but there’s still a chance you might have trouble finding a lawyer to take your case.
Lawyers turn down cases for many reasons. Most of these reasons have nothing to do with the merits of your case. And even those that do might leave room for reasonable disagreements.
Lawyers have duties to clients and potential clients. They also owe duties to the legal system. Finally, they owe duties to themselves and their law firms. Lawyers can decline representation under any of these duties.
Here are some reasons a personal injury lawyer in San Diego will not take your case and why you should seek a second opinion.
1. Problems with the Case
If your case has legal problems, the lawyer must inform you of the problems and decline representation. This fulfills the lawyer’s duty to the courts to refrain from filing frivolous lawsuits. It also fulfills the lawyer’s duty to you to provide honest legal advice.
Two common legal problems include:
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations restricts the time for pursuing a claim. Under California law, a judge must dismiss any lawsuit filed after the statute of limitations has expired.
You have two years to file a claim for an injury caused by negligence. This two-year time limit covers most types of accidental injuries, including car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and slip and fall accidents.
Under some circumstances, a court will pause the statute of limitations. If none of these tolling provisions applies, a lawyer must decline representation of time-barred claims.
Not every injury is actionable. To win compensation, you must prove the other party’s liability for your injury. In most cases, this means you need to prove the other party’s negligence caused your injury.
Reasonable minds can differ over the issue of liability. If a lawyer declines your case over liability concerns, you should speak to a different lawyer.
2. Problem with Damages
Injury lawyers usually work for a contingent fee. This means that a lawyer gets paid from the settlement or damage award you receive in your case. This also means that if you receive nothing, the lawyer receives nothing.
You might have a strong case. But if the defendant cannot pay your damage award, you and your lawyer will have wasted a lot of time and effort to get no compensation.
The defendant might lack the ability to pay for a variety of reasons:
- No insurance
- No assets
Like liability, reasonable lawyers might view damages differently. If a lawyer rejects your case because of a defendant’s inability to reasonably pay out for damages, you should speak to a different lawyer.
3. Conflict of Interest
Lawyers owe clients a duty of loyalty. If the lawyer has any personal or professional interest that could compromise their loyalty to you, that lawyer must decline representation.
For example, suppose that you slipped and fell in a restaurant. A lawyer cannot take your case if the lawyer also represents the restaurant’s owner in a separate contract case.
You should consult with a different lawyer when someone declines representation due to a conflict.
4. Lack of Resources
The lawyer must have the time, knowledge, and finances to take your injury case. If the lawyer lacks any of these, the lawyer should not take your case.
For example, a lawyer might turn down representation if they:
- Lack familiarity with your legal issue
- Have no time for your case
- Cannot cover the costs of investigators and expert witnesses for your case
You should shop around to find a lawyer and law firm with the knowledge, experience, and resources for your case.
Finding a Lawyer
Most injury lawyers offer free consultations. You should use these consultations to discuss potential issues with the lawyer. If a lawyer declines your case, have an open discussion about their reasons for doing so. In most cases, you may be able to seek a second opinion.