Sometimes, I talk with people who are disheartened after their wreck, slip and fall or other incident because they cannot find an attorney willing to take on their case. In some instances, it’s because these folks do not have a case. While they may feel wronged, they may not have sustained any damages or do not have a legally valid claim against another. In most instances, the person has been injured and does have a legally valid claim. However, they have difficulty finding a lawyer because of a variety of other reasons.
An attorney’s decision whether to take on a case will be made during their first meeting or telephone consultation with the prospective client. This conversation is focused on gathering the proper facts, and analyzing the viability of the claim.
In an ideal world, the perfect case would have: 1) clear liability (and in a negligence case, no evidence of contributory negligence because in North Carolina if you contribute to an accident, even if only 1%, you are barred from recovery); 2) a likeable client who can clearly relate the factual nature of their claim; and 3) solid evidence to support the claim. “Perfect” cases are few and far between. Lawyers often will not turn down a case just because it is not “perfect.” Tough cases are part of the business, and many lawyers are willing to take them on. However, if your particular case has problems with every single factor above, the lawyer may pass on your case. Some of the obstacles involved in pursuing the case may also be so onerous that the lawyer may deem them too unlikely to overcome.
Other factors that can affect a lawyer’s decision on whether to take on a case include the amount of damages sustained by the client. If the amount of damages is fairly small or even nominal, it’s often not worth the lawyer’s time in handling the case, and it’s often not worth the prospective client’s time and expense in hiring a lawyer as well. In other cases, the lawyer may not have the time to take on the claim at the moment, depending on the complexity of the matter and any legal deadlines that may be approaching (e.g., the statute of limitations).
If you are having a hard time finding an attorney to handle your case, be persistent. It may take a few, or even several, calls to different attorneys before you find one willing to take on the matter. Your perseverance will pay off in the end, as it’s often best to be represented by experienced legal counsel rather than attempting to handle the matter on your own.
Although sometimes you cannot find an attorney, know when you need an injury attorney.