Answering the question: “Do I have a case?”
Just like any other service provider, a lawyer needs to be able to make money to stay in business. In personal injury law particularly, this means being picky about the cases to accept, since the legal fees are almost always dependent on winning at trial or due to case settlement.
Almost all lawyers who handle Personal Injury cases charge their clients on a contingency fee basis. Simply, in this instance,the attorney only gets paid when the client (or injured party) wins. Due to this, a lawyer that accepts your case has been convinced the odds are in the favor.
Therefore, a personal injury lawyer relies on must be careful when taking on clients. Both can require a significant amount of time and expense by both parties. Likewise, if an injury lawyer continues to take cases that cannot be won, he or she won’t be in business for very long. I also believe that taking on a bad case is not fair to the client. They will develop expectations that are unrealistic. They have already been injured; they don’t need to add further disappointment to an already difficult time.
To further clarify how lawyers view the merits of these cases, I would like to give you three reasons a good lawyer will usually not take an injury case. First, the potential client is not seriously hurt. Only serious injuries or death commonly receive damages in court. If your injuries are very minor your financial recovery may be little or nothing. The law only compensates for serious damages such as disability, chronic pain, severe physical or emotional suffering.
A second factor lawyers consider is whether the case is past the statute of limitations or other notice provisions. The law is very clear how it views time limits.. Often times, he who hesitates is lost. Most negligence cases, (such as auto accident cases), must be filed in court within three years. Claims with your own auto insurance company can have time limitations as low as one year. If your case is beyond these limitations there is very little a lawyer can do. Ensure you get sound advice on this issue, laws on time limits can vary by state..
Another important factor, was the defendant at fault or somehow negligent? Serious injury is not enough, it’s key that the defendant must have done something wrong. For example, if the defendant went through the red light and there are several independent witnesses to verify they were at fault, then your case is one many lawyers may consider. If it was the plaintiff who ran the red light (and this was the major cause of the accident), then the case does not have merit.
In closing, I would like to point out that there are almost always exceptions to any rule. A good injury lawyer may be able to find a very good case hidden in the facts and circumstances. A case where someone has died, or the victim has experienced very serious, life-altering injuries warrants an extreme amount of research, investigation or expert review before making the “no case” determination.
Our best tip? Get good advice. Ask for answers to all of your questions by an experienced injury lawyer. Do not rely on your own opinion or the opinion of family or friends. Why? Because there is much at stake. It could be the most important decision you have ever made.