4 Reasons Why a Personal Injury Lawyer Will Not Take Your Case

Having an injury lawyer to represent you can drastically alter the outcome of your case. From negotiating with insurers to presenting your case to a jury, a lawyer has the experience and knowledge to obtain the best possible resolutions.

But lawyers can turn down cases, too. The reasons can range from problems with the case itself to ethical issues that the representation could create.

A Lawyer’s Duties

Lawyers must balance many duties and responsibilities, including:

Adherence to Missouri’s Laws

Lawyers are officers of the court and must comply with Missouri’s laws and court rules. Taking a case or advancing an argument that violates these laws could expose the lawyer to sanctions by the court.

The Rules of Professional Conduct also set out the ethical rules lawyers must follow. Violating these ethical rules can result in discipline, including suspension or disbarment for serious offenses.

Duties to Their Law Firm

Lawyers have a duty to their employers and to themselves. Although these take a back seat to the lawyer’s legal and ethical duties, lawyers do not have to take cases that will harm their career, business, or reputation.

Four Reasons a Lawyer Could Turn Down a Case

A lawyer could refuse a case for a number of reasons, but most of them will tend to stem from the lawyer’s duties. Depending on the reason for the refusal, you might be able to find another lawyer to take the case.

Lawyers may turn down a case for the following reasons:

1. There is Not a Valid Case

A lawyer cannot take your case if you have no case. This usually happens for three reasons.

The Statute of Limitations Has Expired

Missouri’s statute of limitations requires you to bring medical malpractice claims within two years of the time in which you discovered or should have discovered the injury. You have five years to bring all other personal injury claims, such as car accident claims.

If the statute of limitations has expired, you cannot present a case to the court.

There is No Cause of Action

You must have a cause of action under Missouri law to file an insurance claim or lawsuit. If no one bears liability for your injuries, you have no case.

For example, suppose that you sustained an injury when you fell on another’s property due to your own carelessness. A lawyer might conclude you have no claim against the property owner and decline your case.

There is No One to Sue

Some people and entities are immune to lawsuits. For example, you cannot sue police officers who are acting within the scope of their duties. If a police officer knocked you over while chasing a suspect down the sidewalk, you probably have no claim for your injuries against the police department or the officer.

2. There Are No Damages

You can recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering in an injury case. If you recovered from your injury without medical treatment and didn’t miss any work, your damages might not justify a lawyer’s time and effort.

3. The Lawyer Doesn’t Have Experience in the Relevant Area

A lawyer must provide competent representation. This means that a lawyer cannot take a case filled with unfamiliar legal issues. 

For example, medical malpractice claims often raise complicated medical issues. If a lawyer feels overwhelmed by the issues involved, the lawyer will turn down the case.

4. The Lawyer Has a Conflict of Interest

A lawyer cannot represent a client whose interests conflict with another client’s interests. Thus, if you slipped and fell in a restaurant owned by a lawyer’s client, the lawyer will turn down your case.

How to Find Alternate Representation

If a lawyer turns down your case, you should seek a second opinion. In some cases, the reason the lawyer turned down your case might be personal to the lawyer. Another lawyer might be willing to take your case.

If the lawyer declined your case for legal issues, you should still seek a second opinion. A more creative lawyer might find a way around the legal defects and accept your case.