6 Reasons Why A Personal Injury Lawyer Will Not Take Your Case
Michele Mirman | Personal Injury | February 14, 2020
Hiring a personal injury lawyer to sue the owner of a store where you slipped on a wet floor and suffered an injury may not be as easy as you think.
The free consultation you use to decide whether to hire a lawyer is also a chance for the lawyer to decide whether to take your case. Here are six reasons why a personal injury attorney in New York may refuse to take your case.
You waited too long before going to a lawyer
States prefer that you make a claim for compensation as soon as possible after an accident. If you suffer an injury due to the fault of another party, you have a limited amount of time to sue for damages. Lawyers call this a “statute of limitations.”
The statute of limitations for some personal injury cases is three years in New York. You may have less time to sue if negligent medical care caused your injuries.
Lawyers will refuse a case with an expired or close to expiring statute of limitations. Avoid problems by consulting with a lawyer as soon as you realize you suffered an injury.
The lawyer has a conflict of interest
A lawyer cannot take your case if it would create a conflict of interest. This may occur when your interests conflict with those of another client already represented by the lawyer.
For example, you suffer an injury while riding as a passenger in a friend’s car when it collides with a speeding truck. The lawyer representing your friend, who was also injured in the collision, refuses to represent you because of a conflict of interest. The conflict is that an investigation may disclose fault on the part of your friend in causing the crash.
Talking to too many lawyers about your case
An excellent way to find the right lawyer to handle your personal injury case is to interview two or three of them. Most New York personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation for you to discuss your case and decide whether to hire the lawyer.
It’s common for people to shop around, but be careful not to get carried away. Too many meetings with lawyers may send the wrong message.
A lawyer who knows you spoke to several other lawyers may wonder why they did not accept your case. It could also cause a lawyer to think you may be a difficult person to work with and refuse to take your case.
Your damages may not justify the lawyer’s time and effort
A lawyer may look at a case and decide it is not worth the time, effort and expense based upon the damages you incurred. For instance, a property owner may be at fault for failing to remove snow and ice from a sidewalk. A lawyer may decline to take the case if your only injury was a minor bruise that did not need medical care.
Lawyers usually take on personal injury cases with their fees computed as a percentage of the amount recovered on behalf of the injured party. If the potential recovery appears to be too low, the fee may not justify the time and effort the lawyer must put into the case.
The degree to which you were at fault
If you were at fault in causing an accident or your injuries, it may reduce the compensation you receive. For example, a driver texting on a cellphone causes an accident in which you suffer an injury. You were not wearing a seatbelt, so a jury may decide the injuries were 20% your fault and reduce your compensation.
Contributory negligence does not prevent you from recovering damages under the law in New York. A lawyer may estimate how your fault may affect the outcome of the case. This may cause a personal injury lawyer to refuse to handle your case.
Pressuring a lawyer to tell you the value of your case
It is common for accident victims to ask a personal injury lawyer to tell them the value of their case. A lawyer may offer an estimate based upon the range of settlements in similar types of cases. It’s difficult to give a more precise estimate of value without at least reviewing medical records, witness statements and accident reports.
A reputable lawyer may refuse to take the case of a person who insists during the initial consultation on knowing its value. A person who refuses to allow a lawyer to take the time needed to become familiar with the facts and issues in a case may be a problem later on.