Here at PainWorth, we hear everyday from accident victims who can’t find a lawyer willing to help them with their car accident settlement or personal injury claim.
While we understand firsthand how confusing and upsetting this can be, we’re here to let you know that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have a claim.
As it turns out, there are actually lots of reasons why a personal injury lawyer might not want to help you with your case.
Here are a few of the top reasons a lawyer might not take your case:
What is a statute of limitations?
Essentially, it’s your time limit or “expiry date” for filing a lawsuit.
Basically, if you wait too long after your accident to file a lawsuit, your case may be dismissed simply because it’s been filed after the statute of limitations.
Depending on your province or state, the statute of limitations is usually about 2 years, but it also depends on the location where the case occurred—as well as the particular details of the case.
For example, some cases—especially those involving minors or sexual assault—might not be subject to the same statute of limitations as a car accident involving adults.
All of this to say, a personal injury lawyer might turn down your case if they suspect that the statute of limitations has expired on your case.
Personal injury lawyers usually work on a “contingency” basis. This basically means that they’ll take a percentage of whatever you win, but they’ll only get paid if you win your case.
This sounds great, since it means you don’t pay if you don’t win.
In reality though, what it often means is that a lawyer may not want to take on any small cases, because it won’t pay them enough—even if they do win.
In these cases, it may be better to handle your claim on your own through small claims court or to use PainWorth’s tools to negotiate with the insurance company directly.
To win your personal injury case, you need to be able to show that the other party caused your injuries. This is called proving liability.
If it’s unclear who was liable or “at-fault,” it may be difficult to win your case.
For example, if you were in a motor vehicle accident with no witnesses, and both drivers have conflicting stories, it might be impossible to prove who was at-fault.
If a lawyer is not 100% sure that they can prove who’s at-fault, then they won’t feel sure about winning or getting paid.
Sometimes, the liability is clear, but it may turn out that you were partially at-fault.
If you were partially at-fault for the incident, this will probably change the amount you can claim for compensation.
In some provinces or states, if you’re more than 50% at-fault, you may not be able to recover any damages. In other provinces or states, your damages may be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Whatever the case, a personal injury lawyer may decline to take your case because your degree of liability makes the possible size of the case too small for them, financially.
As accident victims ourselves, we know that all car accidents—even minor ones—can be traumatic.
That said, lawyers are most interested cases that involve severe, long-lasting injuries. These cases tend to easy to prove injuries for, and tend to be worth a lot more money.
If your injuries were minor or short-lived, your possible settlement might not be big enough to justify the cost and time associated with hiring a lawyer. With minor injuries, it might even be difficult to prove that you were ever injured!
For this reason, a lawyer might turn down your case.
If you were already injured before your accident, it could be hard to prove that the injuries you’re experiencing now were the result of your accident.
For example, your career-ending game as high school wrestling star might have caused you some back injuries. Unfortunately, this will make it very hard to prove that the car accident you were just in is the cause of your back pain today.
For this reason, a lawyer might turn down your case.
If the insurance company has already offered to settle, a personal injury lawyer might turn down your case.
Basically, if the offer that the insurance company you is making is a fair one, then it might really make no sense to escalate things by hiring a lawyer. All this would do is add further time and expense to your claim (and that won’t be enjoyable for anybody!)
In other cases, the settlement offer the insurance company is making might be a tiny bit low, but the expenses of a lawyer, disbursements, and court costs might cancel out any benefit of hiring a lawyer to negotiate a minutely higher settlement.
In these cases, a personal injury lawyer might tell you that they don’t want your case.
Are you not sure if you've been made a fair settlement offer by the insurance company? Find out what other cases like yours have settled for here.
Yeah, yeah, it sounds obvious, but we hear from people all the time who want to fire their lawyer and hire a new one.
Unfortunately, if you’ve already hired a lawyer, another personal injury lawyer might not be keen to take your case.
Firstly, lawyers generally don’t want to get involved with a client who already has a lawyer. Most lawyers know each other, and there’s an ethical concern involved in “taking” other lawyers’ clients.
But, secondly, even if you do successfully “fire” your first personal injury lawyer and hire another lawyer, their contracts often state that the first lawyer will still get paid a percentage, which reduces what the second lawyer can make.
Hopefully, this has helped you understand some of the many reasons why a lawyer might not want to help you with your personal injury case.
The good news is that—most of the time—this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should give up or that you don’t have a claim.
For accident victims who represent themselves—out of choice or out of necessity—we've developed lots of free tools specifically made to help you represent yourself and settle your personal injury insurance claim on your own.
Please try them out, and let us know what you think!