Due to COVID 19, we're providing FREE consultations via PHONE or VIDEO conferencing for your safety and convenience. Please see Our Coronavirus Policy.

Why Lawyers Sometimes Decline Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Cases

When I tell them, they don’t like what they hear. I try my best to explain, and usually they do understand, but they are never happy about it. Sometimes (thankfully not often) they even become angry.

What am I talking about? Turning a case down. You see I, like all other Central New York personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers, must sometimes tell potential clients that I am declining to take their personal injury or medical malpractice case. Many factors come into play in deciding whether to accept a personal injury or medical malpractice case. In the end, we lawyers need to make a business decision, based on a cost-benefit analysis.

What goes into that analysis? Since we are paid on a contingency fee basis (generally 1/3 of whatever we recover for the client) we need some reasonable assurance that: (1) we can win the case; (2) the injury is significant enough to warrant a jury verdict high enough so that 1/3 of it will “pay” for our time litigating it; and (3) the at-fault party has either enough insurance coverage or a “deep pocket” so we can collect on a judgment.

But the analysis is really more complicated than that. For example, if the injury is extremely horrific (examples: quadriplegia, amputations, severe brain damage), and there is plenty of insurance, or a deep pocket, then we might very well accept even a tough case where we only have a small chance of winning at trial. The potential payoff, even if unlikely, makes it worth the risk. Conversely, if the injury is minor, we usually want to see a very strong case, one we know we can win, before we accept the case. A small injury where we have only 10% chance of winning makes no business sense.

There is a saying in our business that goes like this: “You make money on the cases you turn down”. What that means is that sometimes the decision NOT to take a case actually saves you money and makes your bottom line positive so you can stay in business. To survive, we have to make sure we don’t get overburdened with a lot cases that have a poor potential for success and take a lot of our resources.

We wish we could help everyone. We can’t. Some cases were just not meant to be. It is a good thing, really, too. Imagine if every injury were a case. Then our court system would be overwhelmed. There are many accidents and injuries, but only some of them have the necessary ingredients to make a good personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit. Call or email us to find out if your case makes the grade.

Contact Information