Two of the most common questions people have for a personal injury lawyer are, “Does my injury qualify as a personal injury?” and “How much can I get with my personal injury claim?” Although there is a lot to be learned from these questions, there are no guaranteed answers to either.
There are a number of reasons you should have your case evaluated right away. One of the most important is the time limits that you have for filing a legal claim. If you don’t file a personal injury claim within the statute of limitations in your state, you can lose your right to get compensated.
People who have never required the legal guidance or representation of a lawyer often imagine that hiring a lawyer is easy. If you aren’t selective about the quality of the lawyer who represents you, this may be true. But people should take hiring a lawyer to represent their rights as seriously as they would when hiring a doctor or dentist.
In reality, every lawyer is not a good fit for you. You need to find one who specializes in personal injury cases. Also, you need a lawyer whom you feel comfortable with. The process for going forward with a personal injury claim is a team effort. The attorney-client relationship should be based on trust and communication.
The decision to hire a lawyer isn’t only up to you. Just as you may decide that a lawyer isn’t a good fit for you, there are several reasons that a lawyer won’t take your case. When you go to a lawyer for a case evaluation, they rely on their own findings to determine if it is a good case to take on. Basically, they have to have a reasonable expectation that they can prove and win your case.
An experienced personal injury lawyer has handled many claims, both in and out of the courtroom. He/She knows the signs that your case isn’t a good one to pursue. The more factors in your favor, the easier it will be to win.
Some of the most common reasons that the lawyer will choose not to take your case include:
Reason #1: The Accident May Not Qualify As a Personal Injury
A personal injury is an injury to your body and not your property. It occurs as the result of an accident that was somebody else’s fault, either by negligence or intent. The first job for the lawyer is to evaluate the accident, your injury, and whether it occurred under these conditions. It isn’t enough that your injury occurred on someone else’s property. The lawyer must prove that the other party was either negligent or intentionally did something to cause you harm.
Sometimes the fault goes beyond the property owner and falls with the manufacturer, builder, or a failure to act once the danger was known. Proving fault is essential for a successful personal injury case. It can be difficult depending on the circumstances. If a lawyer thinks proving fault will be difficult to impossible, he may pass on your case altogether.
Reason #2: Your Injury Didn’t Have a Serious Impact
Sometimes people get lucky and they escape serious injury in spite of a potentially deadly accident. Unless the injury has a financial and emotional impact on your life, either short-term or long-term, the accident isn’t going to bring about any compensation.
Even if you don’t appear to have serious injuries immediately after an accident, it’s still a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your case. Some injuries appear or become more serious over time.
A personal injury attorney knows the types of injuries commonly suffered from accidents, especially those that result from car accidents. He can advise you on medical treatment and the types of records you need to prove your case. If you have a real injury, you need to pursue a claim before the statutes of limitations expires. If you don’t, then the lawyer will politely decline to represent you. If your lawyer doesn’t believe your injury is serious, you can bet the other side won’t believe it either.
Reason #3: They Aren’t the First, Second, or Even Third Personal Injury Attorney You’ve Talked To
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t “shop around” for the right lawyer to represent you. As mentioned above, you need a lawyer with expertise in personal injury and someone you can work with comfortably. Still, a lawyer who realizes you have already talked to several lawyers will be concerned that you are shopping around for something quite different.
This reason often goes back to those two common questions that people ask about their case. First, they want to know if they have a case and, second, how much compensation they can get. If you seem to be shopping around for the highest potential price tag, many attorneys consider this a red flag.
A number of factors determine how much compensation you will get. There is no guarantee that you will win your case at all. This tells the lawyer that you may have unrealistic expectations about what you can expect from your claim.
Personal injury cases are legitimate legal claims that the victim of an injury needs. A reputable personal injury lawyer genuinely cares about getting a good outcome for their clients. They don’t just pick a number at random. Instead, they apply a formula to determine how much to ask for in damages. The client needs the money to live a lifestyle that is as close to what they had before the accident as possible.
A client who looks at their claim as an opportunity to make their fortune isn’t someone they want to work with. Their expectations aren’t realistic and they aren’t likely to be satisfied with the outcome.
Reason #4: It Doesn’t Make Sense Economically
A lawyer is a professional who puts a great deal of time into the cases he handles. He wants to use his time wisely by accepting cases that he has the potential to benefit from. When he evaluates your case, he considers how much time he will need to spend, along with the out-of-pocket cost to him and the firm. It depends on the likely return on his investment whether he thinks the case is worth it.
The purpose of a personal injury claim is to get financial compensation for your debts as a direct result of your injury. This includes the cost of medical treatment, loss of wages, and the emotional stress the accident and injury cause you in other areas of your life. These are additional factors that he will use to compare the cost of pursuing your claim against the potential cost.
Personal injury attorneys work on contingency, meaning they only get paid when and if they win your case. When they do, they get a percentage of the total amount of your award. They aren’t going to invest their time and expertise into a case that they are likely to lose money on.
If the attorney decides not to take your case because he doesn’t expect to get sufficient compensation, that also means you aren’t as likely to get a good outcome either. Ask him what he thinks of your case and the likelihood of getting compensation to make the case worthwhile to you.
Reason #5: Too Much Exposure
From the time of your accident, everything you say and do has the potential to damage your personal injury case. Insurance companies advise you not to take the blame for an auto accident at the scene. Lawyers advise you not to talk with the insurance adjuster directly. Taking blame now will come back to haunt you later. Failing to get medical treatment and not following the advice of your doctor gives the other side ammunition to discredit your injury.
Today, the risk of legal exposure is far greater because of the common use of cell phones. How many of your friends or family members have posted pics of their car after an accident on Facebook?
One thing we’ve learned from the news stories highlighting the failings of Facebook privacy policies is that nothing you post on social media is private. For example, assuring your friends and family members that you aren’t hurt or it was nothing more than a fender bender can ruin your personal injury case.
The insurance company is going to try and find everything there is out there about your accident. They know that people love to share details on a site where there is a false sense of security and privacy. They will use what you say against you.
The personal injury lawyer knows it too. That big dance that you went to a week after your back injury pretty much does the job of beating you before you ever go to court. If he finds comments and posts of events that he knows will hurt your case or your credibility in general, he’s probably going to pass on your case.
Use your cell phone to take pictures after your accident to use as evidence in your personal injury case. Don’t share them or any comments at all about your accident on social media. It’s best not to be on any of these sites at all. You never know when your friend will say something about your injury.
Don’t lie or mislead the lawyer about any exposure to keep them from refusing to take your case. This includes any admission of fault, negotiating with the insurance company, or posting details of the accident online. If they find out later that you weren’t completely honest with them, you may find yourself looking for new representation even later in the case.
The Value of a Free Case Evaluation
Most personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations. This is an opportunity to find out whether you have a good case and should pursue a claim. During the evaluation, you will talk with the lawyer about the details of the accident and your injury.
You should take all of the records you have with you to the meeting. This includes the accident report, pictures, a list of witness information, and medical treatment. If you have pictures, take those as well. The more information you have to present, the more accurate the evaluation will be.
Take a list of questions that you have for the lawyer to help you decide if they are a good choice. You need to know how much experience they have in handling cases like yours and their success rate. You want the best personal injury lawyer you can get for your case.
Always be honest about every detail of your case. You can’t expect to win your case if it isn’t based on the real facts of the accident and your injury. It isn’t to your benefit or to that of your lawyer to go forward with a case that you aren’t likely to win.
Avoid an attorney who gives answers in absolutes. There is never a guarantee of how much you can get from your case. Although most personal injury cases are settled before they go to court, yours may be different. No attorney can guarantee you a fast resolution or a specific amount of compensation. All you can expect is an honest evaluation of your case based on their experience and knowledge of personal injury laws.
Batta Fulkerson is a successful personal injury firm in San Diego with a genuine concern for the well-being of our clients. We offer a free initial consultation and you don’t pay anything until we win your case. We understand the strain that another financial obligation can put on you during a stressful time in your life.
Contact Batta Fulkerson to schedule your 100% free case evaluation. Don’t wait until the symptoms of your injuries get worse to take the next step. Learn your rights and get the experienced representation you need to defend them.