With all the advertising by personal injury lawyers, you’d think there would be no problem finding a lawyer to represent you after being injured in an accident, but this isn’t always the case. If you’ve been injured, there are several reasons why a lawyer may not take your case.
The Type of Accident
Not all personal injury lawyers handle every type of injury case. For example, some injury lawyers who represent people injured in car accidents won’t handle someone injured by a medical professional. If a lawyer does not handle your type of accident injury, then he/she may not take your case. It’s always a good idea to find out how many cases like yours the lawyer has handled.
Law firms are a business, and like any other business, they must make more money than they spend. However, unlike most businesses, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means they often do not charge a client any upfront fees or expenses and only get paid if they win your case.
Payment being contingent upon winning creates a huge financial risk for personal injury lawyers. They pay all the upfront expenses associated with a case (i.e., hiring experts, taking depositions, investigating accident scenes, paying court fees, etc.). To stay in business, they must recoup the money they’ve spent, plus get paid for their services, and have enough left over to compensate the client for their injuries. Therefore, each lawyer will consider how much it will cost to represent a client versus how much money they think they will recover for a person’s injuries. If a lawyer thinks they will spend more money on a case then what they can recover, then he/she will likely not take the case.
For example, if a lawyer thinks that a medical malpractice case will cost about $100,000 to pursue, but the reasonable value of the case is also $100,000, then it would make no financial sense to pursue the case because nothing would be left over after case costs are paid. Keep in mind, however, that just because one lawyer doesn’t think he/she can recover enough money to take a case, doesn’t mean another lawyer will think the same. It’s always prudent to call multiple lawyers to determine if you may or may not have a case an injury lawyer can help you with.
No Time to Take on a New Case
As with any business, lawyers can’t spread themselves too thin. They will carefully consider the type of injury case and how much time will need to be spent on the case. Lawyers are held to a high standard when it comes to representing clients. They must zealously and diligently represent each of their clients to the best of their ability. This means they should not take on more cases than they can reasonably and adequately handle.
Nearing the Statute of Limitations
In Georgia, a person has a limited amount of time after an injury to file a lawsuit. The amount of time depends on the type of case, but once the time has expired, they are barred from any future claims for that injury. For example, generally, adults injured in a car wreck have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Keep in mind that this is the general rule but there are some exceptions.
If the statute has already passed on your claim, then a lawyer will typically deny it outright. Sometimes, however, if a case is nearing the statute but hasn’t yet reached it, a lawyer may reject your case as well. This is because they may not have enough time to adequately investigate the case and file a lawsuit in the appropriate amount of time. Messing up on a statutory filing can get a lawyer into serious trouble, so they are reluctant to take on a case too close to the statute of limitations.
Conflict of Interest
A personal injury lawyer has a duty to act in the best interest of each individual he or she represents and to keep their information confidential. While there might not be a problem with representing multiple victims of the same accident, the lawyer must first ensure that there is no conflict of interest between the victims themselves (i.e., there is enough insurance so that each victim will be fully and fairly compensated for their injuries), and that the victims understand and consent to the lawyer representing each of the them. As an example, suppose a passenger is hurt in an auto wreck, and it looks like the driver of the car she was riding in and the other driver are both to some degree at fault. Most lawyers would not try to represent both the driver and the passenger because they may wind up having to be on opposite sides of a lawsuit, which would likely present a conflict for the lawyer.
Personal reasons that a lawyer may not take your case can vary. They may refuse to represent you if they are related to or friends with one of the defendants. Likewise, if you’ve been injured by a doctor who also treats the lawyer, he/she may refuse to get involved. Lawyers, like everyone else, have personal lives they want to protect. It can be very uncomfortable for a lawyer to coach a basketball team with a person who’s being sued by that lawyer’s client.
At the Gautreaux Firm, all conflicts are openly revealed, and we are transparent about any possible difficulties we would have pursuing a case with passion and diligence for our clients.
Gautreaux Law handles all types of personal injury cases, including but not limited to auto and truck wrecks, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and product defects. If you’ve been injured contact our office for a free case evaluation.