Yes, it happens. Contrary to popular belief, personal injury attorneys don’t take every case that passes through their doorway. You shouldn’t be offended if your case is declined. There are very good grounds for an attorney to turn you away, and some of them are for your benefit.
Here are some reasons a personal injury attorney might reject your claim:
- There is a conflict of interest. Whether it is a friend or a business associate, if the attorney has some kind of personal or working relationship with a party in the claim, they will probably not take your case.
- Statute of Limitations has passed. Claims have specific time frames in which they must be filed. Most personal injury cases have to be filed within three years of the incident. If you are trying to hire an attorney after your statute of limitations has run out, your case will be declined.
- There is little or no insurance coverage. Going after something that’s non-existent doesn’t make good sense. Most injury cases are brought against insurers for defendants, and not individuals or entities themselves. Likewise, most claims are resolved within the limits of the defendant’s insurance policy, and monetary awards beyond that are rarely achieved. Many times, defendants simply declare bankruptcy in order to avoid paying. In cases in which you have clear-cut damages and liability is certain, unless the defendant has a large amount of personal assets from which you may also recover, it may not benefit you to bring an attorney in on your claim.
- Another law firm would be better suited. Law firms refer cases to each other all the time. Since personal injury attorneys are paid by contingent fees, the out of pocket expenses may be too much for them to handle, and they may refer the case to a larger firm with more resources. Likewise, if the firm thinks you would be better served by a smaller firm, they will refer it in that direction.
- There aren’t enough damages. If your injury is very minor and your recovery is going to be little or nothing, a personal injury attorney will likely not take your case. This is in both parties’ best interest.
- Fault cannot be proven. Having a serious injury doesn’t automatically mean someone is at fault. One of the factors of having a personal injury claim is that someone must be at fault. If fault cannot be proven, then you have no case.
- The costs of the case will exceed the recovery. Some types of cases, such as medical malpractice and products liability, are very costly to handle. If the costs and attorney fees will eat up most of what the attorney thinks the client will recover from their injury, no matter if they feel it’s a legitimate claim or not, they will more than likely not take the case. Again, this is to the benefit of both parties.
No matter what, if you’ve been injured and think you have a personal injury claim on your hands, you should definitely seek the counsel of an attorney.