Morgan Gaynor | July 13, 2021 | Personal Injury
Lawyers decline representation for many reasons. Most of these reasons have nothing to do with you, personally.
The lawyer might have ethical conflicts that prevent them from representing you. It might just not make financial sense for the attorney to take your case. Other times, an attorney might decline to represent you because you don’t have enough of the facts or law behind you to win.
Here are the top five reasons an injury lawyer may decline to take a case.
1. The Statute of Limitations Has Expired
A statute of limitations sets the deadline by which a lawsuit can be filed. It exists to provide certainty for people and businesses.
You have four years to file a lawsuit that asserts negligence in car accidents and premises liability cases. Florida only gives you two years to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice or wrongful death.
In many situations, you can miss the filing deadline through no fault of your own. Florida excuses some delays. But if none of the statutory exceptions apply to your case, a lawyer cannot revive it, so they will likely decline to represent you.
2. You Share Too Much Fault For the Accident
Florida follows a pure comparative fault system. Your ability to recover compensation is directly related to your role in an accident. If you contributed in any way, your damages will be reduced.
For example, if you crossed an intersection against a red light and got hit by a speeding driver, the jury might assign 50% of the fault to you and 50% of the fault to the driver. As a result, your financial award would be reduced by half.
A lawyer can take your case where you bear some responsibility for your accident. But this might not make sense economically for a firm, as most lawyers take cases on a contingent fee basis. The less money you recover, the less money the lawyer is ultimately paid for their work.
3. The Projected Recovery is Low
A lawyer might decline your case if you suffered very little damage. Your damages will include your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. If you suffered a minor injury from which you fully recovered, you might not have enough damages to make the case economically feasible for a lawyer.
4. Your Case Falls Outside of the Lawyer’s Expertise
Not all attorneys handle all types of personal injury cases. Some lawyers might avoid some practice areas – like nursing home abuse, workplace accidents, or medical malpractice. Others might dedicate the entirety of their practice to one or two areas – like product liability and mass torts. If you approach a lawyer with a type of case they really don’t handle, they might decline to take it. But, they may also be able to refer you to an attorney who can help you with your situation.
5. The Lawyer Has a Conflict of Interest
Conflict of interest rules exist to guarantee that a lawyer can fully represent your best interests. A conflict of interest could divide a lawyer’s loyalties. If this happens, the ethical rules bar that lawyer from accepting representation.
For example, if you slipped and fell in a building owned by the lawyer’s cousin, the lawyer would have a potential conflict of interest in representing you. Ethically, that lawyer would be obligated to decline your case.
Finding the Right Representation
In some situations, you can still bring a case with another lawyer. Unless your claim missed a statutory deadline, you can always shop around to find a lawyer that is willing to bring your case to court.