An accident is an overwhelming experience which raises two major questions:
- Who's responsible for what happened?
- Am I entitled to receive compensation for my damages?
For many of the injured individuals or surviving families, a legal claim is the only hope to recover losses. But, the truth is that it's difficult to answer these questions in the absence of a concrete accident case evaluation. The underlying facts and circumstances of each injury accident will play a role in an attorney's decision about whether or not to represent you. We'll provide you some general guidelines that will help you understand whether you have a personal injury claim or not.
Got Injured in Miami. How do I Know if I Have a Case?
To find out if you are entitled to file a claim for personal injury or not, you should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer. Only a legal expert can tell you if it's worth pursuing a claim after he or she examines your case. Typically, there are three conditions you have to meet to be able to file a claim:
- The accident caused your injuries
- The other party's reckless behavior caused the accident
- The damages you suffered led to financial loss (for example, medical expenses)
Why Might a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer Decline my Case?
It is disappointing, to say the least when you believe you have a legitimate personal injury claim, but lawyers reject your case. But it doesn't mean you don't have options. There is probably a valid reason behind the decision and few factors that went into their final determination. Let's look at some different scenarios.
It's not a Personal Injury Case
Perhaps your case is not a personal injury case after all, or it requires representation by an attorney who specializes. For example, you want to fight a red-light ticket. To fight a ticket, you'll want to hire an attorney who handles traffic matters or let your insurance company handle it. If you do get sued, your insurance company will provide you with a lawyer. Nothing that happens in court for a ticket is relevant to a personal injury lawsuit, should one eventuate; the court's findings are not admissible.
It's not 'Winnable'
Lawyers will turn down cases where there is very little or no chance of winning. If a lawyer files a claim that he or she knows or should know has no merit, then the lawyer could be sanctioned by the court or could face a lawsuit for the costs and fees the opposing side had to pay to defend the frivolous suit.
For example, a lawyer will reject a case where you missed the statute of limitations, the deadline by which you must file the lawsuit or a case where there is clearly no viable legal basis for holding the other person liable.
The statute of limitations prescribes a specific period during which a claimant is allowed to file. If that term is overdue, once you approach a law firm they'll tell you that there is nothing more they can do. If there isn't sufficient proof to demonstrate the other party's negligence, you stand no chances of winning. Consequently, lawyers won't accept your claim because you don't have sufficient grounds to file.
If a lawyer rejects your case because it's not winnable, but you believe strongly in the merits of your claim, then it may be worth it to reach out to a few more lawyers to hear what they say. If they all reject your case for the same reason, then it's safe to assume that you should not bring your lawsuit.
It's Not a Strong Case
Attorneys evaluate your personal injury case's potential, as well as their costs and ability to represent you well and determine whether, if successful, the claimed damages justify the economic risks. There are certain types of cases that lend themselves well to contingency fee agreements, where the lawyers only get paid if the case is successful. In our case, these fees range from 34%-40% and are paid from the total amount. Others do not.
The first thing lawyers look into when assessing a claim's potential is the damage. A personal injury claim implies suing another person or entity for the physical damage they have brought you. If the level of damage is insignificant, you might be turned down by certain law firms.
Why? Filing and pursuing a lawsuit cost money, not just time. Copying and coding documents cost money. Stenographers for depositions cost money. Just filing a lawsuit often costs a few hundred dollars. In a major lawsuit, lawyers will probably spend a few hundred dollars just on postage. And a lot of commercial litigation now involves expert witnesses, whose fees start at a few hundred dollars an hour. On a contingency case, the lawyer often absorbs most or all of the costs.
For example, most personal injury cases rely heavily on medical records to prove your claim. Your case may not be worth pursuing if you never saw a doctor or your injury is minor. A different scenario would be if the person who injured you does not have insurance coverage.
Not only must lawyers analyze liability, but they must also analyze ability to pay. In the case of corporations, that's relatively easy. In the case of individuals, not so much. A judgment that takes four years to obtain can be wiped out in an afternoon with a bankruptcy filing.
If multiple lawyers tell you that your case isn't worth it, then you can consider filing the claim in small claims court. On the other hand, sometimes a lawyer believes your case has merit, but he or she cannot afford to take it based on their current caseload and resources. In this situation, you might try reaching out to another firm with the resources to handle your case.
Now, if you consult multiple attorneys that regularly handle personal injury cases on a contingency basis, and they all decide not to take your case, that may be a good indication that your case may not be very strong.
If an attorney does not handle the particular type of personal injury case, he or she may decline to handle the case. You should not hire attorneys on a contingency fee basis who are inexperienced in handling the type of claim being pursued. This can backfire severely with potential cost assessments or sanctions being levied by the court against you, counterclaims being filed and possibly even abuse of process claims being pursued if the case ends up being dismissed for lack of merit or because the attorney is inexperienced.
There's a Conflict of Interests
If the lawyer has a personal relationship with one of the parties involved in the accident, he or she will likely turn down the case. An attorney may turn down a client if he or she previously represented the defendant. If the attorney is morally or intellectually at odds, he or she may also perceive a conflict and choose to reject the case.
It's a Lawyer's Discretion
In deciding whether to undertake contingency fee representation in a case, attorneys may be highly selective concerning the character and integrity of the client since both of those qualities will be scrutinized by opposing parties, opposing counsel and ultimately the judge and jury if the case ends up being tried.
Miami Attorney Sean M. Cleary Can Help You
If a personal injury lawyer refused to take your case, it's best to consult with other specialists. Don't let a refusal discourage you. We have a reputation for taking on cases that other attorneys didn't think they could win, winning those cases.
At The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, we strive to help all the injured victims we can. Our Miami-based attorney will closely evaluate your case and see if there is any way we can help you get the compensation you need for your injuries and damages.
Sean Cleary has often accepted to work on cases that were previously declined by other lawyers, managing to recover a rightful compensation for claimants.
If you are not sure whether you have a personal injury claim or not or you have been turned down by other lawyers, call 305.416.9805. We will thoroughly investigate your case and let you know if filing a claim is in your best interest.