People wonder why attorneys will not accept their case and this article is written to give a brief overview of the issue.
After someone has been injured they may believe they have a case but cannot find an attorney who will accept the case. In order to help you understand why, we list below some of the things that may be helpful for your consideration.
One of the earliest considerations by a personal injury attorney is how the accident 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 on a premises or that the injuries are severe.
An example would be that in a car accident you were supposed to yield the right-of-way but the other driver impacted your vehicle. Who was at fault for an accident is a question that the judge or jury must answer in Texas.
In order to have a viable personal injury claim in Texas, the injured person must be able to prove that the other party was at fault and that their contribution or fault was less than 51%.
If you may have been partly at fault, an attorney may decline your case because the monetary award will be reduced or eliminated depending on the extent of your fault.
Governmental immunity in Texas is another reason why attorneys may not accept personal injury claims against school districts or governmental entities.
In short, a personal injury attorney will analyze whether legal responsibility can be established and gauge the likelihood of success.
The Injury is Not Serious Enough
Attorneys hear all the time “I could have been killed”, that is not an element of legal damages submitted to the jury in Texas.
Another saying that is a red flag to an attorney 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 attorneys are looking for damages as a gauge of the expected recovery for handling a case. Speculative damages whether financial or injury do not really help you obtain an attorney.
In personal injury cases, how bad you are hurt is the most important factor in a case. If your injuries are minor, an attorney may pass on your case because the expected monetary compensation will likewise be minimal.
Additionally, the cost of developing the testimony to prove up your injuries has to be factored into the analysis of the attorney.
If the cost of the expected depositions exceeds the expected return on the case, an attorney most likely will not accept the case.
You Sound Like You Have Talked to Many Other Lawyers
We believe it is extremely important for personal injury victims to select the right attorney for their case. This includes making sure that the attorney has expertise in the subject area of the accident 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 attorney based upon the feedback they receive on the value of the case.
It is almost impossible for an attorney to give a client a value of the case before the attorney knows all of the facts including the insurance coverage available by the defendant. 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 the attorney will think twice about the case from either a liability perspective or an unreasonable expectation perspective.
The Economic Reality of Pursuing the Case
Personal injury attorneys 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 attorney expects to spend on the case, the cost out of pocket for the attorney to develop the case and the expected fee.
The attorney must consider whether the time effort and money are “worth it” for the attorney to handle. The more experienced and successful the attorney the higher that number becomes.
To put this in perspective, defense attorneys are paid by an hourly rate for each minute they spend on a matter. The client also must pay upfront all of the case expenses 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 hospital obligations for the treatment.
This can come into play when the available insurance to cover the damages is insufficient and the hospital would receive the first money out of a case.
In short, attorneys who handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis must be business people and accept or decline cases after considering how much time and money they must expend to move the case forward balanced against the fee that they expect to receive should they be successful and the risks in the case.