Suppose you suffer an injury that was caused by someone else’s misconduct. You schedule consultations with various personal injury lawyers, but you cannot find one that will agree to represent you. Why? There are many possible reasons, some of which we discuss below.
Not all of these reasons apply to every attorney. If one lawyer doesn’t take your claim, another lawyer might. Some problems, such as the expiration of the statute of limitations deadline, cannot be fixed no matter which lawyer you select.
Some reasons a Las Vegas personal injury attorney may refuse to take your case include:
Your Claim is Not Viable
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. If they don’t win any money for you, they don’t charge you any legal fees. This ends up as a waste of time for both you and them. For this reason, a personal injury lawyer won’t take your case if they do not believe they can win. If your injuries aren’t serious, your case might not interest some personal injury lawyers.
The Defendant Doesn’t Have Any Money
It won’t benefit you to win your claim if the defendant cannot afford to pay it. Of course, many defendants with limited personal finances have insurance policies that can cover your claim. In many other cases, the defendant has no insurance or drastically inadequate coverage.
In other cases, insurance companies simply won’t cover the type of claim you intend to assert (a criminal assault, for example).
If the party who injured you cannot afford to pay, an experienced lawyer will seek alternative defendants, such as:
- The defendant’s employer
- Another third party who contributed to your injury
- A government agency, if the lawyer can prove that they partially contributed to the accident
- A manufacturer, if a defective product contributed to the accident
However, depending on your case’s circumstances, there may be no alternative defendants you can plausibly hold liable.
The Lawyer Believes the Accident Was Mostly Your Fault
Nevada applies a modified comparative negligence system with a 51% bar to recovery. You cannot recover compensation if you share more fault than the other parties.
A court will assign each at-fault party a percentage of the blame. The victim’s awarded damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. If the lawyer believes your portion of responsibility is too high, the amount of compensation they expect to win might not justify the effort of pursuing the claim.
Your Case is Too Complex for the Lawyer to Handle
A lawyer might refuse your case if it is too complex for them to handle. This is especially likely to happen if you talk to a sole practitioner without the resources to investigate your claim properly.
The Statute of Limitations Deadline Has Passed
The Nevada statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years after the accident that injured you, with limited exceptions. The wrongful death statute of limitations is two years after the victim’s date of death.
If the deadline has passed, your claim will be worthless. Neither you nor your lawyer will have the opportunity to win any compensation for your claim.
The Defendant is a Government Entity
Suing the government for damages is different from suing a private party. When you sue the government, your compensation will come from public funds. This is why the government sets special rules for claims against government agencies.
The Nevada Tort Claims Act sets the terms for lawsuits against Nevada state and local government entities. Meanwhile, the Federal Tort Claims Act sets the rules for claims against federal government entities. These rules are almost all adverse to the plaintiff—in other words, they make it harder to win a personal injury claim against a government entity. A lawyer might be unwilling to deal with the complications of suing the government.
You Live Out of State
Suppose you suffer injuries in a car accident in Las Vegas, but you live in New York. Since personal injury lawyers generally pay all case expenses upfront (but recover them out of a successful judgment), the lawyer might have to fly you from New York to Las Vegas to attend a deposition or court hearing. You might have a better chance of securing representation if you can afford to pay these expenses upfront.
The State Where Your Lawyer is Licensed to Practice Has No Jurisdiction Over Your Claim
If you suffer an injury in Arizona caused by a defendant who lives and works in Arizona, you might have to sue in Arizona under AZ state law. If you approach a lawyer licensed to practice in Nevada but not Arizona, they would need special permission from an Arizona judge to represent you in court, and they might have to travel long distances to appear in court on your behalf. This state of affairs might cause a lawyer to refuse to represent you.
Your Case Will Cost the Lawyer a Lot of Money Upfront
As mentioned above, personal injury lawyers generally charge nothing upfront—they take their fee out of the compensation paid by the opposing party at the end of the case.
If your case will cost a lot of money in investigation expenses, expert witness fees, etc., and if the lawyer estimates that it will take a long time to resolve, they might not be willing to spend a lot of their own money and then wait for reimbursement. The smaller the law firm, the more important this issue will become.
You Mention That Other Lawyers Have Turned Down Your Claim
If other attorneys have turned down your claim, the lawyer you are speaking with will wonder why. They might refuse to represent you, thinking you are omitting critical facts that other lawyers reacted to by refusing to represent you.
Conflict of Interest Problems
Strict conflict of interest rules apply to lawyers. If you seek representation from a lawyer who has previously represented the party you wish to file a claim against, these conflict of interest rules might prevent the lawyer from representing you. Conflict of interest concerns might make representing you unreasonably dangerous, even in ambiguous situations.
One way to avoid this problem is to select a lawyer who (i) only takes personal injury cases and (ii) only represents plaintiffs (injury victims). A conflict of interest problem is still possible, but it is far less likely.
The Accident Wasn’t Anybody’s Fault
Not every accident is someone’s fault. Suppose you skid off the road while driving well under the speed limit during a rainstorm. The accident might be nobody’s fault. Without a defendant, you likely have no third-party claim. However, an attorney can help you with insurance negotiations if you have a policy that covers the accident.
There is Only One Way to Know Whether a Lawyer Will Take Your Case: Schedule a Free Initial Consultation
The only way to know whether a particular lawyer will represent you is to schedule an initial consultation. You can explain the facts of your case and learn about your legal options. If you need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the legal team at Battle Born Injury Lawyers, call us at (702) 570-9000 to schedule a case evaluation.