It can be frustrating to contact a personal injury lawyer about a claim only to find out that the attorney cannot help you with your slip and fall claim or motorcycle accident. However, there may be a good reason why a personal injury lawyer will not take your case. 

Four common reasons an attorney will not take a case include:

Statute of Limitations Expired

Personal injury claims are subject to time restrictions under the New York Statutes of Limitations. In most cases, you must file a claim for personal injury within three years from the date of the injury. However, there are exceptions.

Medical malpractice claims have a shorter statute of limitations and specific rules that you must follow before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Wrongful death claims have a two-year statute of limitations for filing lawsuits.

Depending on the case, there could be exceptions to the general rules. For example, if your claim involves a government entity, you have just 90 days to give notice of the claim and then just one year to file a lawsuit. 

If the deadline for filing a claim has expired, there is likely nothing that the attorney can do to help you with your claim. You can avoid losing your right to file a claim by talking to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. 

Conflict of Interest

An attorney has a fiduciary duty to act in your best interest. If the attorney has a conflict of interest, he cannot take the case. A conflict of interest can arise in several ways.

In most cases, the conflict arises when the attorney represented or represents a party that is involved in your case. For instance, the attorney represents the trucking company that owns the commercial vehicle involved in your truck accident. The attorney has a conflict of interest because he cannot protect the best interests of you and the trucking company. 

Lack of Damages

You must prove that you sustained damages because of the accident or incident to recover damages. If you were not injured and did not sustain financial damages, you cannot recover compensation for an accident.

In some cases, the damages in a case are so low that the attorney will not take the case. There is not enough money to pay the attorneys’ fees and the costs of pursuing the case.

Disputed Liability

You must show that the other party is responsible for the cause of your injuries to recover compensation for damages. In many cases, the other party denies liability for the cause of the victim’s injury. An attorney investigates and gathers evidence proving fault. 

However, there are some cases in which there is very little evidence to help prove fault. If the attorney does not believe that he can win the case, he may not accept the case.

Remember, you can talk to more than one attorney. If an attorney refuses to take your personal injury case, make sure to find out why. Ask the attorney to explain his refusal to take your case in detail.

After hearing the explanation, you may want to consult with another personal injury lawyer for a second opinion. It could be that another lawyer has a different view of the case and is willing to accept the case.

Personal Injury Cases in New York

New York personal injury laws provide victims with a legal course of action to recover compensation for injuries, financial losses, and other damages caused by another party. Most personal injury claims involve some type of negligence. To prove negligence, you must have evidence to establish:

  • A party owed you a duty of care
  • The party breached the duty of care 
  • The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
  • You sustained damages because of the breach of duty

For example, all motorists have a duty of care when operating a motor vehicle to avoid actions that can place other people in harm. A driver who runs a stop sign breaches the duty of care.

Running the stop sign when you had the right of way caused the car accident. Because of the car accident, you sustained injuries and damages. The other driver was negligent and is liable for your damages.

The above situation is a simple example of negligence. Very few personal injury cases are straightforward. Most personal injury cases involve complex legal issues that must be addressed.

Some cases, such as premises liability claims, may require that you prove that the party knew or should have known about a risk or danger and failed to take action to protect others from harm. Product liability claims involve proving that a product was defective in the design, manufacture, or distribution.

Therefore, personal injury claims are not always easy to win. While an attorney is not likely to turn a case away merely because it is difficult to win, he might have another reason for not taking your case.