When taking the steps to file a personal injury lawsuit, you may be taken aback when a personal injury lawyer won't take your case.
If you're rejected by one lawyer, don't take it too personally. Attorneys regularly turn down cases for a variety of reasons. But if several lawyers turn you down, that may be a sign that your case isn't as strong as you think it is.
Here are five reasons why an injury lawyer may not want to take your case:
1. Government Immunity.
If you were injured on a city-owned sidewalk or other piece of public property, then you likely need to file a claim before you can sue the government. But governments and their agents are entitled to "immunity" to many types of lawsuits, meaning that they generally cannot be held liable unless they were negligent, reckless, or malicious in their actions. An attorney who foresees an immunity hurdle may not be up for the challenge of trying to win your case.
2. The Circumstances of Your Injury (or Lack Thereof).
Unfortunately, "I could have been killed!" generally doesn't do much for your case. If you're not genuinely injured either physically or financially, an attorney may pass on your case because it may be too difficult to put together a damages claim that a court will consider. Also, if you somehow caused or contributed to your own injury, an attorney may also pass on your case because that may prevent you from recovering any damages.
3. 'Attorney Shopping.'
Getting an accurate idea of how much your case is worth is important. But if you're on a quest for the highest bidder, an attorney may be able to sense that and pass on taking your case. It's not a great idea to go from one attorney to the next asking, "What's the highest amount you can get me?" You're not going to get the best lawyer, you're going to get the biggest liar. Keep in mind that lawyers are not allowed to guarantee results.
4. Financial Concerns.
Remember, attorneys are business people and while they want to help, they also have to consider whether your case is worth their time and effort.
When lawyers don't think they can win -- especially with malpractice or injury cases in which they only get paid if they win -- they may turn down a case. The same goes for cases that aren't really "worth it," like filing a minor car accident claim. For small, do-it-yourself cases, pro se (in other words, representing yourself) may be the way to go.
5. Lawyer's Discretion.
At the end of the day, lawyers are allowed to pick and choose their cases. Maybe they're too busy; maybe you're too far away; maybe he's going on an extended vacation. In most cases, you shouldn't be offended if a lawyer brushes you off. Luckily for you, there are plenty of personal injury lawyer-fish in the sea.
- First 3 Steps to Take in a Personal Injury Case (FindLaw's Injured)
- Where Should You File Your Lawsuit? (FindLaw's Injured)
- What Is Qualified Immunity? (FindLaw's Injured)
- Ask a Question About Injuries, Accidents, and Torts in Our Community Forum (FindLaw Answers)