Attorneys hear it all the time: “You are the 5th attorney I have talked to. No one will take my case. Why?”

A good personal injury case, like a bar stool, needs three legs to stand. Those legs are:

  1. An injury
  2. Liability, and
  3. A person or insurance that can pay the damages.

Cases that lack injury are common when an incident causes someone to almost get hurt. The doctor almost performed the wrong surgery, or I was almost hit by a drunk driver who later crashed into a tree. While these types of situations can make a prospective client rightfully upset, they lack an injury that makes filing a lawsuit possible. Often justice in these situations is best pursued by a complaint to the hospital, a bad review, or via the criminal law system.

Cases often lack liability because of various laws favorable to business and insurance. Sometimes the law makes it impossible to bring a suit and sometimes the law makes it too difficult to establish liability. Social hosts have little liability for their drunk guests, dog owners often have some protection from liability for the first bite by their dog, and certain industries and professions are protected from lawsuits.

The main obstacle to filing most claims is the inability to find a defendant that can pay for the damages. This is most often seen in car accident cases where the defendant lacks insurance coverage and does not have any assets to pursue. Sometimes the damages far exceed the small insurance policy that is available. A serious injury or death may be caused by a driver that has only a $30,000.00 insurance policy. Sometimes, though, a good personal injury attorney can find alternative sources of funds to pursue.

Personal injury attorneys usually work on a contingent fee, meaning that the attorney only gets paid if they recover money for their client. If an accident attorney does not think he or she can get a good recovery because your case is missing one or more of the three necessary legs, they will not take your case.