We are often contacted by people who say that they have consulted with multiple personal injury attorneys across New York and failed to find one who will take their case. They’re confused and wondering why each consultation ends with a polite, “No.”
Let us start by saying that most attorneys genuinely want to help you, and sometimes the best way to do so is by gently discouraging you from pursuing your claim. Below is a list of reasons why a personal injury attorney may decline a case.
You don’t have a valid claim
The fact that you were hurt in an accident doesn’t always mean that you have a valid claim for compensation. There are two elements that must be satisfied in order to have a personal injury claim:
- Someone’s negligent actions or omissions caused you to be injured. If no one was at fault for your accident, you have no one to sue.
- You experienced financial losses as a result. If you slipped and fell in a mall food court because someone dropped their beverage and the mall management didn’t clean it up or warn shoppers about the hazard, you may be entitled to damages if you hurt your back and couldn’t work for two weeks. If you only suffered minor scrapes that didn’t require medical treatment, you probably don’t have damages to claim.
You were primarily responsible for your injuries
New York is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that even if you were mainly at fault for the accident, you are still entitled to recover damages, but how much you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you were 70% at fault for a collision due to drinking and driving or texting behind the wheel, you will only recover 30% of your damages. In a situation like this, a New York personal injury attorney may conclude that the time and cost spent pursuing the claim is not worth the small recovery due to your own actions.
You jeopardized your claim somehow
When it comes to accidents, anything you say or do can potentially damage your case. If you took full or partial blame at the scene or said something to an insurance adjuster before you had the chance to consult with a personal injury attorney, it will come back to haunt you when you seek damages.
Other ways that you can jeopardize your case include:
- Failing to get medical treatment
- Ignoring medical advice
- Talking about your case on social media.
You waited too long to act
In New York, you generally have three years from the date of the accident to sue the party or parties responsible. In practice, however, the longer you wait to seek an attorney, the harder it will be to win damages. The memories of the witnesses can fade, and evidence can be lost or contaminated, making it questionable whether your claim will succeed.