The same way you research an attorney before hiring him , an attorney does his research before he commits to your case. There are several factors that determine whether a case has merit. Your attorney works hard to assess these details after your free consultation.
Some of the things your attorney might weigh include:
- Liability, meaning who should be held responsible for the accident.
- Even after liability is established your attorney will need to gauge how well they can prove it.
- The value of damages including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
- Your attorney will measure damages against the time, effort, and cost of handling your case.
- Whether the party you intend to sue has the means to pay the claim.
- The at-fault party may be “uncollectible,” meaning he does not have the money to pay a claim exceeding his insurance coverage.
- How much the case will cost the attorney.
- Your attorney will determine the value of your claim and estimate the cost of representing you to determine if taking your case makes sense for him.
- Whether other attorneys have denied your case.
- If another attorney has dropped your case in the past, it could indicate that your situation doesn’t merit a case.
- If your case still falls within the statute of limitations.
- Time limits vary by type of law and state – for personal injury cases in California, for example, you generally have 2 years to pursue a claim.
- Your attorney-client relationship.
- Building rapport and establishing trust is essential to an attorney-client relationship. If your attorney feels that he is unable to do this, he may choose not to take the case.
- Conflict of Interest
- It may turn out that your attorney is already representing the other party involved in the accident or one of the insurance companies involved, and therefore cannot represent you.
Personal injury attorneys typically work on a contingency fee, meaning unless you receive a settlement, they don’t get paid. This alone may be motivation for an attorney to drop a case they don’t feel will give them a payout that justifies the time and effort they put in.
Additionally, an attorney must consider whether your case is winnable. If your attorney feels that there is no way the case can be won, he may deny it. In this situation, he is avoiding wasting your time or setting unfair expectations for you.
Generally, an attorney will send a letter informing that they will no longer be working on a case. If you receive one of these letters, you may still have a case and require compensation for injuries and damages.
When your attorney withdraws from your case for instances other than “no merit” you may want to ask for a referral to another firm.