Will a personal injury lawyer take your case? Personal injury lawyers work on contingency fees, meaning they’re only paid if they win. So while they may have different standards, everything comes back to the same two questions: Is this case winnable and for how much?
Can you win?
Does your state use the standard of comparative negligence or contributory negligence? If it’s the latter, if you’re at fault for even 1 percent of the accident, you’ll lose in court. Comparative negligence only requires your share of the blame to be less than 50 percent.
Furthermore, it’s not a guarantee the defendant will be assigned any blame that doesn’t fall on you. Some accidents are just bad luck—an icy road could cause a collision between two responsible drivers and no negligence is involved.
How much money is out there?
Is yours a complex medical case where expert witnesses, who have to be paid, are required? A straightforward case, like a fender-bender, has a higher profit margin. Are you or the defendant out of state from where the trial will be held? If so, travel costs for depositions just went up.
Is there a cap on damages? Some states have them by law and caps apply to all government bodies. What was the cost of your medical care? Were hospital bills taken care of by a government program? If so, they were likely paid at a reduced rate, which reduces the amount that can be sought in damages.
What can you do?
The factors above are beyond your control. But there are three things you can do to enhance your case’s chances:
- Be credible. Attorneys don’t like putting someone with a criminal record on the stand and hoping the jury will trust them.
- Seek medical care immediately. Your lawyer won’t like dealing with questions from the defense about why you didn’t see a doctor right after the accident.
- Don’t get caught up in the righteousness of your cause, at least with your lawyer. This has to be strictly about your chances of winning and getting paid.
As Al Pacino from “The Godfather” says: It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.
Besides your case’s chances of success and value of your claim, here are some other reasons why a personal injury lawyer may deny your case: