Why Lawyers Turn Down Personal Injury Cases
5 Reasons Lawyers Might Not Want Your Case
Many injured people find themselves asking, “Why won’t a lawyer take my case?” You may have spoken to several different attorneys, none of whom was willing to take your case. What’s worse, they may have given you only a vague answer when you asked why they wouldn’t represent you. There are many different factors that could make a “good” car accident case; however, most “bad” car accident cases have the same few factors in common. Here are a few circumstances that could lead to lawyers turning down your personal injury case.
You waited too long to seek medical treatment
A lot of people walk away from car accidents feeling mostly fine, experiencing discomfort or mild pain at worst. These people frequently decline medical treatment at the scene of the accident. Then, a few days later, headaches, neck pain, or back pain set in. Soft tissue injuries like these usually worsen in the days following an accident. If this was your experience, you may have decided to try to tough it out.
Toughing it out is a sure way to tank your claim. The longer you go without getting treatment, the more difficult it becomes to prove that your injuries were caused by your accident. If an attorney doesn’t think it’s possible to win a case, they’re likely to turn it down.
The solution is to get treatment as soon as you can. You should always let EMS staff evaluate you after an accident, but it’s also fine to get to a doctor within the week after you were injured. Your health depends on early detection of whiplash or concussions. In addition, seeing a doctor as close to the date of the crash as possible starts a paper trail documenting your symptoms and connecting them to your accident.
The insurance company has already denied your claim
Most car accident cases settle out of court. This is generally to the client’s benefit: they get their money more quickly since the case isn’t going to trial, and settling minimizes their legal fees.
If the insurance company has already denied your claim, it means that settlement is off the table. It also probably means that the case doesn’t look good for the injured person, and the insurance adjuster thinks the company would prevail in court. By taking a case like this, a lawyer guarantees him- or herself years of work that probably won’t pay off in the end. Usually, lawyers turn down personal injury cases that won’t be profitable.
You contributed to the accident or your injuries somehow
A strict North Carolina contributory negligence law bars injured car accident victims from suing if they contributed to their accidents in any way. This means that if you got into a car with a drunk driver and were injured when that driver crashed into a tree, you probably won’t be able to sue.
Insurance companies routinely deny claims based on contributory negligence. They know the case can’t go to court, so they have no reason to settle. It’s unlikely an attorney would take such a case because there are few options available to people injured under these circumstances.
Your injuries were mild or your bills were low
If you didn’t suffer a lot of damages in your accident, then your claim probably won’t result in a high dollar amount for you. Car accident settlements mostly depend on your actual, calculable damages – your medical bills and lost wages, for example. If your bills only amount to about $1,000, then that’s about what your claim is worth.
A personal injury attorney will probably turn down a case with low damages. The good news is you may be able to handle your car accident claim without an attorney if the case is simple enough. Handling a simple car accident case yourself means you won’t have to pay attorney’s fees, which could significantly increase the amount of money left over from your settlement.
The statute of limitations has expired
North Carolina’s statute of limitations on personal injury claims is three years. Anyone who wishes to file suit after an accident must do so within three years of the date of the incident. When this deadline passes, the injured person is forever barred from making any claims related to their accident.
The statute of limitations clock starts the second an accident occurs. Your first priority should be getting well. However, once you start settling back into your normal routine it may be prudent to keep in mind the deadline for filing suit.
Insurance companies generally require that all bills be finalized before they’ll agree to a settlement. However, your injuries may have been so severe that your treatment is likely to take (or has already taken) years. Car accident victims with complex, long-term injuries often benefit from hiring a personal injury attorney to represent them, particularly if their case is within a year of hitting the statute of limitations.
Ultimately, the best person to ask about a personal injury case is a lawyer. Call us today to speak with an Asheville personal injury attorney with any questions you have about your case. Initial consultations with our attorneys are free.