There are a lot of factors we have to consider when deciding whether to accept a case or not. Even though we handle as much of your case as we possibly can, filing a personal injury claim does require some effort and time from you, the client. We don’t want to ask you to make an investment of time and energy if what you can expect to gain in return might not be worth it. Sometimes we have to decline representation.
How do we come to the decision of whether to accept or decline a case? We examine several components to weigh the risk versus the potential reward. Since we simply cannot take every case that comes our way, we focus on cases we can win for our clients. And because we take many of our cases on contingency fee contracts, meaning you pay nothing unless we win, each case requires a personal investment on our part. We have to be wise in deciding which cases to accept so we can stay in practice and help more people. We focus our energy where we can provide the most benefit to the clients we serve. We try to accept the cases where we can help people the most.
Sadly, unfortunate things happen and people get hurt. But sometimes there isn’t really anyone to blame for what happened. In order for you to have a personal injury case, someone must be liable for the damages you have experienced. That means it must be clear that your injuries are due to someone else’s negligence.
Sometimes people are partially responsible for their own injuries. The more responsibility you carry for the damages, the less likely you will be able to recover compensation from another party—even if they are partly to blame. Comparative responsibility muddles liability and makes it harder to pin liability on someone else.
The more complex a case is, the more resources (time and money) it requires. For example, complex cases require more research and more expert witnesses. If the recovery is expected to be low, it may cost more to try the case than it is worth. In that case, it isn’t in anyone’s best interest to move forward.
If the details of a case warrant a prediction of low compensation for damages, we don’t want you to end up unhappy that you invested time and energy for a small reward. Some factors that can potentially affect recovery amounts are hospital liens, bankruptcy, Medicare or Medicaid claims, damage caps, severity of injuries, and insurance policy limits. Additionally, sometimes low property damage in a car accident can lead to low recovery because it can be hard to believe people are significantly hurt if the car is not heavily damaged.
If the liable party has limited resources, recovery will be low or nonexistent. Essentially, you can’t be awarded money that doesn’t exist. Even if you “win” the case, if the defendant does not have funds, you will never see the money you have been “awarded.” In this case, again, it is not in anyone’s best interest to move forward.
Most of the things we evaluate are outside of your control as a client. But there are some things you can influence, especially if you are informed about personal injury cases before you have one.
In personal injury cases, people are commonly compensated for reasonable and necessary medical care. But some things can cast doubt on whether your care was reasonable and necessary. New or experimental medical procedures, delays or gaps in care, and disreputable, unrespected, or inexperienced medical professionals can make your claim more questionable and less likely to recover damages. Choose your treatment, timing, and providers carefully.
Closer proximity can often mean less complexity. If you, your medical providers, or the defendant lives out of state from your lawyer, it increases the cost to work your case. You can’t choose where your defendant lives, but you can select a lawyer who lives in your area.
It is normal to feel upset if you are the victim in a personal injury case. But it is important to keep your emotions in check when setting expectations for your lawyer and the outcome of your case. If a client has unrealistic expectations, we may have to decline the case because we will not be able to meet those expectations.
Sometimes clients wait a long time before contacting a lawyer about their case. If you contact us as soon as a personal injury occurs, we will not only be more likely to be able to help you, but we will be able to provide you better help. If evidence needs to be preserved, people need to be notified right away. If you wait to contact an attorney, that evidence may already be gone and your case will be weaker. Additionally, the longer you wait, the more likely you are to be past the statute of limitations. Don’t delay if you think you have a case.
If we can’t take your case, we suggest you consult with other personal injuries to see if your case is the right fit for another lawyer. Likewise, if another attorney has rejected your case, we are happy to take a look and see if it is something we can help you with. Every lawyer will evaluate a case a little differently. If you think you have a personal injury case, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Steven R. Clawson was born in San Francisco in 1960 and was raised in Marin County. Mr. Clawson graduated from Brigham Young University majoring in political science and was admitted to BYU’s law school. While in law school, Mr. Clawson accepted an internship in Washington D.C. where he worked…
Mr. Schofield brings a rich array of experience to the firm to better serve its clients.With an undergraduate education based in Idaho, Nevada, and Northern California, Mr. Schofield obtained his juris doctor degree from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Part of his law school tuition was defrayed…
I took a different road to becoming an attorney. When I first graduated from college, I wanted to work in a job that allowed me to help people, so I naturally went into the teaching profession. I absolutely loved teaching high school chemistry and physics for 11 years. That…
Christian Pedersen was born in Seattle and raised in Solano County. He graduated in Brigham Young University majoring in finance, and then was admitted to Arizona State’s law school and MBA program. While in school, Mr. Pedersen earned a certificate in Law, Science, and Technology from the Sandra Day…