If a lawyer rejects your case after a car accident, it could be because of several factors, such as insufficient evidence to prove fault or a lack of financial damages that can be recovered from the other party. That being said, understanding the potential roadblocks that can prevent a car accident case from being successful is an important challenge for anyone who has been involved in a crash. In this post, Andrew Pickett, a top-notch car accident lawyer in Melbourne, FL, gives you an overview of the possible reasons why a lawyer may reject a case. In it, he also discusses strategies for overcoming these obstacles and pursuing legal action.
Top Reasons Why a Car Accident Attorney Might Decline Your Case
Before we dig in too deeply about why an attorney might decline your case, know that it’s nothing personal. In many cases, a lawyer won’t take your case even though you have a good chance of winning or recovering damages.
Here are several top reasons why a car accident attorney may decline to work on your case.
You Haven’t Suffered Any Injuries
One of the most common reasons a car accident lawyer won’t take your case is that you haven’t suffered any injuries. In order to receive compensation for the damages caused by an accident, it must be proven that your physical or emotional well-being has been negatively impacted.
If there are no signs of injury and/or trauma immediately after the crash, it’s unlikely that a lawyer will take your case.
The Potential for Payout isn’t High Enough
Another reason why an auto accident attorney may reject your case is that the potential payout from the other party is too low. In some states, there are limits to how much compensation you can receive for certain types of damages. If those limits are too low, the lawyer may decide it’s not worth pursuing a case.
Meanwhile, Florida has few limitations on compensation after an auto collision other than the time limit for filing your case once no-fault rules are taken into account. You can talk with a car accident attorney that’s well-versed in the laws of your state to determine if you have a viable claim.
The Car Accident Occurred Out of State
Accidents that happen out of state are another common reason that car accident cases get rejected by attorneys. Some lawyers will only take cases that involve accidents in the state where they are licensed to practice law, which is actually a good thing. That’s because even though laws are similar across the country, they may be interpreted differently in different states.
So, a lawyer unfamiliar with that state’s laws may not be able to represent you in court effectively. For instance, if you live in Maine and your crash happened in Florida, it’s best to find a qualified car accident attorney from that state who can provide knowledgeable legal guidance.
You Waited Too Late After the Accident
In some cases, a lawyer will turn down a case if you contact them too late after the accident has occurred. The statute of limitations for filing a claim after a car accident typically runs out after one to four years, depending on the state in which the crash took place.
According to Florida Statute 95.11, the time limit for victims of negligence in the Sunshine State is four years from the date of the motor vehicle accident. No matter where you live, though, it’s important to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after your crash to ensure you file the necessary paperwork on time and don’t miss out on any potential legal avenues available to you.
Your Car Accident Case is Quite Complex
Another reason your attorney won’t touch your case after a car accident is if they believe it is too complex. Some lawyers may not have the resources or expertise to handle them effectively. For instance, if your case involves multiple parties with different insurance companies and/or a dispute over who caused the crash, you’ll need an attorney familiar with these types of scenarios to ensure the best possible outcome.
The Statute of Limitations is Expired
As mentioned above, the statute of limitations has a time limit for filing a lawsuit after an auto accident. If you contact a lawyer and they determine that the limitation period has expired, they won’t accept your case. However, there are mitigating circumstances that may allow for the statute of limitations to be suspended or extended, such as when the victim is a minor or the claimant has a disability. The details of your case will need to be assessed by an experienced personal injury lawyer if you think you may qualify for such an exception.
The Case Involves a Different Jurisdiction
A lawyer might not take your case is if the accident happened in a different jurisdiction than where they are licensed to practice law. Even if you were involved in an auto collision in the same state, it’s important to note that some lawyers may only handle cases within their jurisdiction. If this happens, they can typically advise you on which attorneys in a different jurisdiction may be able to help.
A Conflict of Interest is Involved
A conflict of interest is another reason why a car accident lawyer might turn down your case. This could occur if the attorney has represented one of the other parties involved in the crash or perhaps that someone is related to them. In this case, the attorney may feel uncomfortable taking on a case that could potentially damage one of their past or current clients.
Your Case isn’t within Their Practice Area
Not all attorneys practice in every area that falls under the umbrella of personal injury law. Even if they are extremely skilled in personal injury and have a stellar reputation, some lawyers may specialize in medical malpractice cases, while others have built a reputation for pursuing cases of elder abuse. Before pursuing a claim with an attorney, make sure they have experience handling the type of case you are looking to file.
Not Enough Resources or Time
Attorneys are busy people and may not have the resources or time necessary to take on your case. This is especially true for smaller firms that don’t have a large support staff and/or cases with complex legal issues. It’s important to remember that attorneys want successful results for their clients, so if they feel like they won’t be able to provide the best representation for you, they may decline your case in order to focus their time and resources elsewhere.
You Have Too Much Liability in the Crash
A lawyer may not take your case if they feel that you have too much liability in the crash. In other words, if an attorney believes that it is likely you are at fault for what occurred, they may decline to represent you. Still, you may be partially responsible for a crash and, as such, are entitled to compensation under comparative negligence or contributory negligence laws, depending on the state.
The Insurance Company is Refusing to Pay
Some car accident lawyers may decline your case if they believe that it is going to be difficult to recover damages from the other party’s insurance company. Insurance companies are typically unwilling to pay out large sums of money unless there is compelling evidence that their policyholder was negligent and caused the crash. If your attorney believes that it is unlikely for you to be awarded a substantial amount of money, they may not want to take on your case.
Damages and Tort Reform Laws Limit Potential Recovery
In some cases, damage caps limit the potential recovery in a car accident claim. In fact, many states have implemented laws that limit the number of damages that can be awarded in certain types of personal injury cases. This situation could present an obstacle if your case is worth more than what the state allows for awards. So, an attorney may decide to turn down a case if they feel the chances of recovering beyond the damage caps are slim.
In addition, tort reform policies may reduce an individual’s ability to recover damages for pain and suffering or other non-economic losses, such as emotional distress. Additionally, these laws could make it more difficult for attorneys to bring a successful lawsuit on behalf of their clients.
In the state of Florida, there are currently no damage caps for compensation regarding personal injury cases, meaning individuals can recover the full amount they are entitled to if they have a valid claim. Meanwhile, changes to tort law in the way of HB 837 – Civil Remedies, have been introduced in the Florida legislature. The bill would put damage caps on certain personal injury cases.
Critics of the bill say the law favors insurance companies and could limit an individual’s ability to recover damages, finding “their medical expenses capped at 140% of the Medicaid rate.” If passed, this bill goes into effect on July 1, 2023. The bill also repeals specific provisions relating to the awards of lawyer fees, which could mean that lawyers are more likely to decline cases because of the reduced potential for recovery.
It is Not Their Area of Expertise
As noted before, lawyers have specialties they focus on. They also have areas of expertise and types of cases they handle. If your case falls outside of their area of expertise, then it’s likely that they won’t take it on. For example, if you are injured in a slip and fall accident case, you may need to find an attorney specializing in premises liability cases. Similarly, if you are involved in a medical malpractice claim, you must look for an attorney with experience in such matters.
They Practice in a Contributory Negligence State
Some states apply contributory negligence laws that state if you are even slightly responsible for an accident, then you cannot recover any damages at all. An attorney may choose not to take on a case if they feel there is too much risk and the potential recovery is small or nonexistent.
Other states apply the concept of comparative negligence to car accidents. This means that if you are partially at fault for a crash, your compensation will be reduced by the amount you are at fault in the accident.
Florida is a comparative fault state, meaning that fault can be shared between both parties. However, if your liability is 51% or greater in the accident, your claim will be denied, and you will not be able to recover any damages from the accident. Your lawyer would need to determine this ahead of time.
Bear in mind that a lawyer still may shy away from such a case if they feel that your percentage of responsibility is too large and you won’t recover substantial damages.
The Case is a Financial Risk
In many cases, attorneys will not be able to take on your case unless they can guarantee payment. In the event that the attorney believes your claim will not result in a large recovery, they may be unwilling to do it because of the financial risk involved.
On the other hand, if there is some hope for winning the case, many attorneys will take your case for a smaller payout. Others will work out payment plans with their clients, and some attorneys new to the profession may even do it for a reduced fee. So, be sure to shop around if a lawyer refuses your case for financial reasons – you’ll be surprised at how helpful the community can be.
Lack of Merit or Damages
An experienced attorney may turn down your case if they determine the damages you have suffered don’t exceed the amount of money being offered by the other party’s insurance company. In terms of merit, the attorney may pass on the case if they feel the evidence and facts show that the other party may not be legally responsible for your losses.
You carry too much of the blame
This is covered in the header Your Liability Is Too High, isn’t it? I’m not really sure what the difference is here.
Chances are Slim for Collecting a Settlement
An attorney may review the details of your automobile accident case and decide there is little hope of collecting a settlement due to a lack of evidence or other factors. Attorneys want to win cases for their clients, and they may decline such a case as it would not likely result in success.
Sovereign Immunity Laws Make Success Unlikely
Governmental units, such as a state or city, might be immune from certain claims due to sovereign immunity laws. So, if you are suing the government for damages, they cannot be held accountable unless they waive their sovereign immunity rights. If your attorney feels there is no way of obtaining a settlement due to these laws,it’s likely they won’t accept your case.
Even so, many attorneys handle such cases and have the right expertise. Therefore, make sure that you are doing your research and finding the right attorney for the job or shopping around to verify that your case is worth taking.
Long-term Medical Care is Involved
If you require long-term medical care due to your injuries, an attorney may not be willing to take on the case. This is likely because of lengthy timeline involved or they may believe they will have difficulty securing a settlement that adequately covers the costs of such extensive medical treatment. In these cases, it’s best to find an attorney who specializes in long-term medical care cases and is willing to take on the case. Be sure to ask about their experience with such cases and how they will handle yours.
The Case isn’t in Close Proximity
In cases where you are located far away from the attorney who is handling your case, they may feel that it is not worth taking due to the extra costs associated with travel and time spent. If there are no other attorneys in your area or nearby who can handle your case, you may have to look elsewhere. Do ask your attorney if they can recommend someone else who might be better for the job. They may know the best people in areas where you are located and will refer you if they can.
The Client Has Unrealistic Expectations
Sometimes, the client may have unrealistic expectations or not understand the process of filing a lawsuit. If an attorney feels that you do not have realistic goals or do not understand the amount of time and effort it takes to build a case, they may decline to take your case.
There is No Significant Property Damage
In cases of car accidents with low property damage, an attorney may turn down your case as it will be difficult to prove that any significant damages have been caused. Even if there are medical bills and other expenses associated with the accident, without clear evidence of property damage, some attorneys may feel it is not worth the effort.
The Client Doesn’t Make a Good Witness
Attorneys can also turn down a client’s case if they do not feel that the potential client will make a good witness. If an attorney feels that you are unreliable or cannot testify in court without damaging the case, they may decline to represent you.
Issues Related to Preexisting Medical Conditions
An attorney may also decline to take your case due to preexisting medical conditions. If they believe that the injuries were caused by a pre-existing condition and not through the negligence of another party, they may feel that it is not worth filing a lawsuit.
The Facts of Your Case are Murky
Sometimes, the facts of a case can be unclear, and it can be difficult to prove any negligence has occurred. In this situation, your attorney may not accept your case if they do not believe there is enough evidence to support your claim. It is important to present all relevant information about the accident in order for your attorney to make an informed decision. Additionally, ensure you are thorough in your research and have all the necessary documents to prove your case.
There’s No One to Recover Damages From
In some cases, there is nobody at all to recover damages from. This could be due to the negligence of a company that has gone out of business or a driver who has not been identified. In cases where nobody else is responsible for the accident, it can be difficult for an attorney to accept your case. In these cases, your attorney may feel that it is not worth taking your case as they believe that there is no one to recover damages from. And without a defendant, attorneys may not feel a lawsuit is worth pursuing.
The Case Conflicts with The Car Accident Attorney’s Values
Finally, an attorney may not accept your case because it conflicts with their personal values or beliefs. This could be due to ethical considerations or simply a personal preference. In cases such as these, the best course of action is to find another lawyer who is willing to take your case. If you believe that a lawyer has refused your case due to personal reasons, it is important to reach out to other lawyers in the same practice.
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What Are Some Actions You Can Take to Increase the Chances of Getting a Personal Injury Lawyer to Accept Your Case?
Overall, there are various reasons why an attorney may decline to take your case. Remember that attorneys want to win every case, and if they feel the chances of success are slim to none, they likely will not take it on. To up the odds of getting an attorney to take your case, there are several actions you can take, such as:
Being honest about any preexisting conditions or damage to property.
One of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of getting a personal injury lawyer to take your case is, to be honest about any preexisting medical conditions or damage to property. Your attorney will find out eventually, and if you try to hide any of this information, it could significantly lower their chances of success.
Always taking the stance that you have a case.
One guarantee for failure is not doing anything. Instead, arm yourself with knowledge about your case, document all medical costs and damages associated with the accident, and research different personal injury lawyers to find one that specializes in representing cases like yours. Above all, be persistent!
Being prepared with all relevant documents and research.
Another key factor in increasing your chances of getting a personal injury lawyer to take your case is being prepared. Have all the necessary documents, such as police reports and medical records, ready for when you meet with your attorney.
Additionally, thoroughly research the other party involved in the accident and be aware of any potential legal issues that could arise. Your attorney can help with this. Be sure to provide them with any documentation that is related to the accident, such as police reports or medical records. Lastly, thoroughly document the scene and injuries if you are able.
Preparing for the phone call or in-person consultation ahead of time.
Before calling a lawyer or scheduling an appointment, make sure you are prepared. Have all your documents and facts organized in one place so that the attorney can get to know your case quickly. Provide all relevant information about the accident and any witnesses involved.
Additionally, take the time to research lawyers ahead of time so that you have a better chance of finding one that is willing to accept your case. Many of them have a pulldown menu under their specialties and expertise on their website, so make sure to look there.
Not arguing with the attorney if they refuse your case.
If an attorney decides not to take your case, it doesn’t mean it is impossible to win. It simply means that the lawyer believes that your case may not have a good chance of success. In these situations, thank them for their time and look into other lawyers who may be willing to take your case.
Ask them why they are refusing your case.
While arguing with them is a bad idea, when a lawyer declines to represent you, make sure to ask why and try to understand the reasons behind their decision. Doing this can help you gain valuable insights for when you approach other attorneys or if you decide to attempt to represent yourself.
Not losing hope because you get a few refusals.
When it comes to finding an attorney who is willing to take your case, be persistent. Don’t get discouraged by a few rejections, and keep looking for the right lawyer that can provide the representation you need. Most importantly, remember that you are in control and don’t allow an attorney to discourage you from seeking justice.
Trusting your gut instinct.
Finally, when hiring a lawyer for your car accident claim, trust your gut instinct, as the attorney/client relationship is often key to the success of your claim. If you feel like something isn’t quite right or the attorney is not providing honest and forthright answers to your questions, it may be best to look elsewhere. Finding an attorney who is willing to take on your case should involve a mutual level of respect and trust. Don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t feel comfortable.
Are There Times When it’s a Good Idea to Represent Yourself in a Car Accident Claim?
Representing yourself is known as ‘pro se,’ and the term means “in one’s own behalf,” and if you decide to represent yourself you are known as a pro se litigant.
You can always represent yourself pro se in a car accident claim. But is that the best recourse available to you? The short answer is if you are not familiar with personal injury law and regulations, it probably is not. Representing yourself can take up time and energy that surely could be used in more productive endeavors. It also could lead to accepting a much lower settlement than you are entitled to by law.
Remember that when all is said and done, the decision of whether or not to represent yourself in a car accident claim is entirely up to you. If you feel like you have the ability to handle your own case, going pro se may be worth considering.
Here are a few other scenarios where it may be a good idea to represent yourself in a car accident claim.
You are confident you can handle your own case.
If you can handle your own case, going pro se may save you money in the long run. Representing yourself requires more time, but if you are confident that you can do it without taking too much of your own time, it could be a good option. As a pro se litigant, it’s best to be familiar with the rules and procedures before presenting your case.
Also importantly, the law resources for car accidents in Florida say that settlements are anywhere from $10K to $60K or more . As such, if there is any chance you may fumble your settlement once you go to court, then it is best to have an attorney represent you.
You are unable to get a car accident attorney to take your case.
In some cases, lawyers may decline to take on your case because they don’t feel confident that it will be successful. If this is the case, pro se is a viable option in order to achieve justice. Keep in mind that it is important to weigh all of the pros and cons of representing yourself beforehand. For instance, if you are successful in reaching a settlement with the opposing party, you will be responsible for dividing that money among your medical providers. If you lose the case, you could be liable for the other party’s legal fees, which can be substantial.
The other party admits fault or liability.
Another scenario where you may want to consider being a pro se litigant is when the other party admits fault or liability for the accident. In this case, it’s likely that your settlement amount won’t be disputed. If this is the case, you may be able to handle your own settlement negotiations without the help of an attorney.
You are willing to do your own research.
If you are willing to learn more about the legalities and technicalities involved in a car accident claim, representing yourself could be the right choice. It’s important to note that people that work in the courts and law libraries and similar places can’t give you legal advice, so you must do your own research. The time span of a case and the amount of work involved with a pro se case can be underestimated, so be sure that you are prepared for the process before taking it on yourself.
When fault for the car accident isn’t contested.
If the accident fault isn’t contested, representing yourself is often a good option. In these cases, if you can effectively negotiate with the other party’s insurance company and have a solid understanding of the laws governing car accidents in your state, you may be able to get a good settlement without the assistance of an attorney.
You can write a formal demand letter.
A demand letter is a document that you can use to communicate your settlement offer to the other party or insurance company. If you know how to write one, it can be a great way to represent yourself and save money. Just keep in mind that it should include details about the accident, such as who was involved, what happened, and the extent of any damage or injuries.
Since it is a formal document, you should consult an attorney before writing one if you’re not familiar with how they are typically constructed. It’s important to note that many insurance companies will reject demand letters outright if they don’t meet certain criteria, so be sure yours is in order before submitting it. Some attorneys interning at a law firm will help you at no charge with this by looking over what you have completed and making sure that all the requirements are met. Other, more experienced attorneys will also do this if they have the time and are willing.
You simply have no other recourse.
You may have no other choice but to go the pro se route if you cannot find a lawyer to take your case or cannot afford one. If this is the case, taking the time to learn as much as possible about car accident claims and researching existing legal resources can be very beneficial. While representing yourself can be a challenge, it is possible to win your case if you are armed with the right knowledge and information.
You’ve documented severe and long-term injuries thoroughly.
If your injuries are long-term or severe and thoroughly documented, you may want to consider handling the case pro se. In these cases, the other party’s insurance company may try to reduce your settlement offer or deny it altogether in an attempt to reduce their own liability. Representing yourself when you are skilled and knowledgeable in the law and court system of your state gives you the ability to fight back and ensure that you are getting fair and just compensation.
You’re taking the case to trial.
If the other party is unwilling to settle, and your case is going to trial, you may consider representing yourself. Trials can be complicated and expensive even when a skilled attorney is involved, but if you are confident in your ability to handle the process and understand the legalities involved (aside from testimony which should always be handled by a professional lawyer) then pro se may be the right choice.
It’s important to remember that self-representation is not for everyone. In cases involving complex legal issues, it’s usually better to hire an experienced attorney who can provide knowledgeable counsel and help you get the best possible outcome for your case.
If you are considering representing yourself in a car accident claim, make sure you are fully prepared and understand the process before taking on the responsibility. The decision to go pro se in a car accident case should be made carefully. There is a lot of paperwork involved and legalities that come with it, and the risk of not receiving the proper compensation or justice is real. If in doubt, consult with an attorney to help you through the process.
What do you do if an attorney refuses your car accident case?
There are many things you can do, like consulting with another attorney or representing yourself. First, however, be sure you have thoroughly researched the case and explored all legal avenues. Any attorney you choose should have an area of expertise, so consider finding one that specializes in car accident cases. Additionally, many law firms offer free consultations, and some may be willing to take on your case depending on the circumstances.
What to do you do when no lawyer will take your case?
This is the same question as above, just phrased a different way, isn’t it?
How do you know if a personal injury attorney will accept your case?
The best way to know if a lawyer will take your case is to consult with them directly. Many lawyers offer free consultations, and some may be willing to take on your case depending on the circumstances. Be sure you have thoroughly researched the case and explored all legal options before consulting an attorney so that they can give you a more informed opinion. Also, be sure to ask about their experience in handling car accident cases. Lastly, it is critical to choose an attorney with a specialization and experience in the area of law related to your case, as this can greatly improve your chances of success.
Why do attorneys turn down cases?
There is a multitude of reasons why a lawyer declines your case. Some top reasons why they do this include:
- Lack of evidence,
- Statute of limitations has passed,
- Lack of merit or damages, and
- Conflicts between parties and the lawyer’s personal beliefs.
Additionally, some lawyers may not have the experience to take on a particular case. If a lawyer declines your case, be sure to explore all other options including self-representation if possible.