When you contact a law firm about a potential personal injury claims case, you generally expect they to take the case. However, there are various situations when a law firm may decide not to take the case. Here are six reasons why:
1. The Statute of Limitations has Expired
Florida Law allows claimants four years to file most personal injury claims, but only two years for medical malpractice claims. Courts will dismiss cases filed after the statute of limitations has expired.
2. Conflicts of Interest
Lawyers are subject to a strict code of ethics. An attorney has a duty of care to act in the client’s best interest. However, if the attorney has a conflict of interest, he/she cannot take the case. For example, say you were hurt in a slip and fall at the local hardware store. If the attorney represents the store in other matters, he/she probably can’t handle your case, because helping you win compensation would conflict with their existing client’s best interests.
3. Your Personal Injury Claims are Too Minor
Not all injuries warrant a lawsuit. A lawyer may decline to take your case based on a lack of serious injury, even if someone else’s negligence caused the injury.
Even basic personal injury claims settlement negotiations can take a substantial amount of time. So, if your injuries are minor and likely to heal quickly, and damages aren’t substantial, it may not be worth the lawyer’s time. Remember. Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning a client does not pay anything upfront. However, the attorney may incur significant fees in taking your case, including:
- Cost of expert witnesses
- Court fees/filing fees
When injuries are not serious, odds are the settlement/verdict will be low, and the defendant may even move to have the case dismissed. At the end of the day, not all cases are worth the time and effort needed.
4. Lack of Sufficient Evidence
If, in the opinion of the lawyer, the existing evidence is not sufficient to get a ruling in your favor, or convince a jury, he/she may opt not to take the case. As the plaintiff, you need concrete proof, documented by witnesses, video, and photos. If that type of evidence does not exist, or is not powerful enough, an attorney may cite it as a reason not to take a personal injury claims case.
5. Florida’s Comparative Fault Laws
Under Florida’s comparative fault laws, compensation received for a personal injury claims case can be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff for causing the accident. If an individual is found partially to blame, he/she cannot recover the full value of a personal injury claim. So, an attorney may reject the case if the claimant’s percentage of fault would result in little compensation for the claim.
6. Type of Case
Not all personal injury attorneys handle all personal injury cases. Many individual attorneys/firms have areas of specialization. For example, just because a firm handles car accident cases doesn’t necessarily mean they also handle medical malpractice claims. As a victim, you ALWAYS want to hire an attorney who has extensive experience and a track record of success in handling cases similar to yours. And in many cases, an attorney who does not handle a certain type of case will be happy to refer you to someone they know who specializes in that area.
Remember. If an attorney does not take your case, it is not personal. Generally, there are valid legal reasons when a lawyer declines to represent a client. To see if your case is one that the Law Offices of Craig Goldenfarb can help you with, please check the website or call and talk to a personal injury legal expert at 561-222-2222.