Most legal experts will tell you that hiring a California personal injury attorney is crucial to winning your claim – and that’s a fact. However, there are specific instances where lawyers refuse to take a case due to special circumstances. 

This article will teach you why personal injury attorneys avoid taking a case and how to turn the situation around.


Can a Personal Injury Attorney Decline a Case?

In California, a personal injury lawyer can legally turn down a case. 

Lawyers typically have the freedom to select the cases they take on depending on various criteria, including the case’s complexity, experience level, workload, and other specific considerations. Lawyers are not bound to take on every case that comes their way, even if they must represent clients in a knowledgeable and morally sound manner.


When Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim?

Liability is one of the first things the lawyer will look into when deciding whether to take your case. This is why it is best to understand how liability and negligence work in personal injury cases in California to determine if you have the right to a case.

Liability in a personal injury case refers to the legal obligation of one party for an accident’s damage caused by their actions. Generally, you have the right to pursue a personal injury claim if the injuries or damages from your accident result from another individual’s negligent actions.

Furthermore, you can demonstrate negligence through the following elements:

  • The other individual has the legal duty to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • They neglected this duty.
  • The breach of duty resulted in an accident.
  • The accident caused injuries and other damages.


Can I File a Personal Injury Claim Independently?

From a legal standpoint, you may choose not to hire a personal injury attorney when pursuing a claim against someone’s insurance, particularly in the case of a minor accident. However, avoiding involving a personal injury lawyer may result in receiving considerably less compensation than what might be necessary or deserved for the damages suffered.

This is likely to happen if you have a late-appearing injury. For instance, a car struck you while biking. Since you thought you did not incur injuries from the crash, you didn’t file a claim against the driver. However, months after the accident, you discovered that you had internal damage caused by the collision. In this case, it may be challenging to fight against the driver, especially if you didn’t gather evidence at the accident scene.

A skilled and ethical California personal injury attorney will leverage their expertise, experience, and resources to secure a more favorable outcome than you would likely achieve without their assistance, even after deducting their fee. Furthermore, they will adeptly handle challenges that may arise during the process, such as insufficient evidence or tight deadlines, to advocate for your case effectively.


My California Personal Injury Lawyer Won’t Take My Case, Why?

Lawyers typically assess your accident before taking the case. Unfortunately, there are specific circumstances where they refuse to represent you due to the following reasons:


The Deadline Has Passed. 

One of the main reasons why lawyers refuse to take a case is when the legal deadline has passed. In personal injury cases, the court follows the statute of limitations, which is the legal timeframe an injured victim has to pursue a case.

Moreover, in California, under the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. If you miss this legal deadline, your case will likely be dismissed. Attorneys know this, so they will decline your case if they determine you pass or are close to missing the statute of limitations.


Out-of-State Case

Some injured victims tend to be confused about where to file a case, especially if the accident happened outside of the state. Note that you must understand the jurisdiction in an out-of-state accident. 

In legal terms, jurisdiction refers to a court’s authority to hear arguments and issue judgments. It defines the boundaries within which a court or legal system is deemed competent based on specific criteria. Jurisdictions typically adhere to limitations based on geographical or subject-matter considerations.

When dealing with an out-of-state car accident, the jurisdiction may differ but is confined to specific elements. This implies that you can only initiate a personal injury claim in the following areas:

  • Where the accident occurred
  • Where the at-fault party resides
  • Where the business is headquartered (if you file a personal injury claim against a company).

For example, you are a resident of Seattle who has made travel plans to California. A distracted driver from North Dakota strikes you while you’re traveling. In this case, you may file a claim in North Dakota or California. 

If you are contacting a lawyer from the wrong state, they will decline your case if they determine the jurisdiction of your out-of-state accident. 


You Are At Fault

As mentioned above, you are entitled to compensation if the accident results from another individual’s negligence. So, if you are liable for the incident, the personal injury attorney won’t take your case.

However, if you are partially liable, you can still receive damages for the accident in California. This is because the state follows pure comparative negligence, which gives injured parties the right to compensation regardless of how much they contributed to the accident.

A California personal injury attorney will assess the facts of your situation and determine liability. They can advise you of the legal options to take, depending on the specifics of your case.


Lack of Damage

An attorney may decide not to take a case if the possible damages are insufficient to cover the expenses and labor of the legal team. Remember that the basis of your compensation depends on the actual losses you incurred from the accident. If you don’t have damages or if they are minor, the attorney may refuse to take your claim and advise you to negotiate with the insurance company instead.


Conflict of Interest

The lawyer may turn down a case if there is a conflict of interest that would make it impossible for them to represent the client adequately. This usually happens if they have already represented the other party in the past.

Remember that although lawyers have the option to reject cases, they ought to do it in an impartial and morally sound manner. A lawyer who declines to take a case may give reasons, and the prospective client may seek legal counsel from another lawyer.

Lawyer’s Tip: If you are partially at fault, your settlement will be reduced depending on how much you contributed to the accident. An attorney will examine your liability and the total losses to calculate the compensation you deserve. 


What To Prepare for the Initial Consultation with Legal Experts

You can prepare several documents before consulting a legal expert to avoid having your case dismissed. 

Prepare the following documentation and details in advance of your meeting with a personal injury attorney:

Medical Records

  • Records from medical facilities, including the names of the hospital and attending physicians
  • Identification of the emergency ambulance service involved
  • Doctor’s formal diagnosis of your injuries
  • Itemized medical bills and corresponding receipts
  • Supporting documents validating potential future medical treatments
  • Information regarding health treatments, rehabilitative measures, and prescribed medications
  • Records from any medical examinations undergone
  • Document specifying the date and time of your hospital admission and release

Insurance Information

  • A document containing pertinent details about your insurance provider
  • Comprehensive files outlining the coverage specifics of your auto insurance policy

Police Report

  • Official police report obtained from the responding law enforcement agency
  • If applicable, the accident report filed by the fire department

Other Essential Evidence

  • Photographs depicting injuries sustained and damages incurred in the accident
  • Testimonies from any witnesses present
  • Contact information for the other involved driver


Do I Need the Help of a California Personal Injury Attorney When Filing a Claim?

In most cases, the assistance of a California personal injury attorney is beneficial and crucial to winning your claim. This is because there are specific legalities of a personal injury process. If you are unaware of this, the insurance company may use it to their advantage and offer a settlement less than you deserve.

With lawyers who handle personal injury cases in California, their expertise, knowledge, and experience in navigating such complexities enable you to focus on your recovery while they work towards a successful outcome, aiming for maximum compensation.

Moreover, attorneys can ensure the success of your case by:

  • Thoroughly investigating the specifics of your situation.
  • Collecting evidence to bolster your claim.
  • Steering clear of legal missteps throughout the case proceedings.
  • Negotiating with the insurance of the party at fault.
  • Safeguarding your rights in the event of a trial.

In Southern California, the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker boasts a team of adept slip-and-fall accident attorneys who excel in handling personal injury cases. For a thorough exploration of the best legal options for your situation, contact us at 800-333-0000 or schedule a complimentary legal consultation.


What Our Clients Say About Us

Our attorneys stand out due to their unparalleled dedication and passion for championing your rights. While other personal injury lawyers may handle your case and build a legal defense, none will advocate for you with the same level of commitment.

As attested by our satisfied clients, our California personal injury attorneys exhibit exceptional expertise in pursuing a claim without making any mistakes.

“Everything was done beyond my expectations. Everyone who helped was extremely nice. I was expecting my case to take a lot longer than it did. It was great not having the stress of doing things myself. I would highly recommend anyone to call if you need help. It’s worth it.”

-Scott O. 


Works Cited

“CCP § 335.1.” California Legislative Information, Accessed 4 January 2024.

“comparative negligence | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Law.Cornell.Edu, Accessed 4 January 2024.

“liability | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Law.Cornell.Edu, Accessed 4 January 2024.