New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer

What Can You Do to Make an Attorney More Likely to Take Your Case?

While you can’t change the underlying facts of your case, you can sometimes take certain steps to make representation more desirable from the attorney’s perspective.

Build Your Case

You can position your case for success by having a complete picture of the nature and extent of your injuries—an official diagnosis from your doctor, for example. In a car accident case, getting a copy of the police report can be a big help. It also helps to organize and gather any potential evidence, like your medical records, contact information of potential witnesses, and a timeline of notable events.

Manage Your Expectations

One of the biggest red flags for an attorney is a client who expects too much. This can make settling a case more difficult or lead to disappointment even after a successful win at trial.

Be reasonable in what you expect from your attorney too. Don’t expect a daily call with a status report, and try not to lose your cool if the lawyer doesn’t return your calls immediately. When something significant happens, the lawyer will let you know.

Be Honest

Litigation attorneys are master lie detectors. So if you’re not telling them everything, or if you’re lying about something, there’s a good chance they’ll know. Why does this matter? Because if they don’t see you as credible, a judge or jury probably won’t either. Your attorney also needs to trust you, as they will be making sworn statements to the court based on what you say. If they’re constantly wondering if you’re lying, they won’t be able to represent you effectively.

See an Attorney ASAP

Generally speaking, it doesn’t help to wait to see an attorney. It’s one thing if you’re waiting to receive a copy of some documents before you have a consultation. It’s different if you’re just procrastinating. If you wait, your attorney will wonder how serious your injuries really are, or how important this case is for you.

Let the Attorney Handle Your Case

This sounds obvious, but there are clients who think they know the law as well as their attorneys do, and they act accordingly. This is one of the biggest pet peeves for attorneys. Think of a driver relying on a vehicle navigation system in an unfamiliar area. You’re like the driver, while your attorney is the navigation system. You’re ultimately in control of the vehicle, but it’s the navigation system that decides the best way to get there. You decided to bring a lawsuit and recover for your injuries, but it’s time to let your attorney decide what court documents to file, what evidence to gather, and how to deal with the other side. That’s what you hired them for, after all.

Why Do Lawyers Turn Down Cases? Hint: It’s Not Personal!

 A great deal of lawyers will offer potential clients a free case evaluation or free consultation to get a better picture of the legal issue at hand. An initial consultation, it should be noted, doesn’t qualify an attorney-client relationship. In fact, there are instances where a lawyer will offer his or her time free of charge for a case evaluation and then decide not to take on the case after all. This line of decision-making has nothing to do with “liking” the potential client, even if the client feels they’re being “turned away”; that’s simply not the case (every attorney wants to be able to help as many clients as possible seek justice).

The potential client should understand that their attorney (or potential attorney in the case of a consultation) is not their friend. An attorney is there to provide expert advice and protect the rights of someone who has come to harm at the fault of another. If the lawyer decides not to take on a case, they’ll have credible reasons why they came to that decision. After all, letting a potential client walk out the door means, quite frankly, the attorney stands to lose quite a lot of money. However, it should be made clear that an experienced attorney doesn’t see dollar signs when he or she evaluates a case–they see the victim of a crime and first and foremost, a human being. An experienced attorney will see the justice they can provide a client and their first instinct will always be to fight for those who have come to harm or who have become the victim of someone else’s bad judgement.

Client comes first, compensation comes later

The lawyer who turns down a case because they don’t feel it’s the right fit (or it’s not a case they feel can hold up in court), wouldn’t feel they’ve wasted their time after an evaluation that doesn’t bring in a client–and it would be wrong to consider that they have–because they offered legal advice to someone who may have come to harm or made a potentially bad decision without their expert opinion on the matter. An experienced lawyer is in the business of practicing law for the people, not the profit. While having an established law firm with many successful cases won and millions in compensation awarded is what every lawyer strives for over the course of their career, cash should never come before client.

An attorney who sees profits before people suffering from serious and life-threatening injuries should not be practicing Personal Injury law. Personal Injury law requires a high level of moral ethics and humanity instilled in the attorney. They must remain unbiased and level headed while holding onto their ability empathize with clients over the course of years. Clients who find themselves in the office of an attorney who treats them as a number or who is only interested in getting them out the door with compensation (even though it may not be the maximum amount) should quickly pursue another firm where they are valued.

Credibility, credibility, credibility

There are dozens of reasons why an attorney with a lot of experience will turn down a case, and most of those reasons have nothing to do with dollar signs. After years of practicing law, attorneys become familiar with exactly what will and won’t win a case. That includes client credibility. Let’s break down exactly what “client credibility” is and how it can affect the outcome of a case for the good and the bad.

  • Lying to your attorney WILL break your case! Don’t kill your case by telling your attorney a story you think he or she wants to hear. Tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Whether or not you have a case after the initial consultation should come second to the fact you told the truth and maintained your composure, rather than create an embellished account of what occurred during and after the accident in the heat of the moment. It’s natural to feel angry, upset, depressed, and emotional after being wrongfully injured by another. However, it’s important to retain a level head and trust that the attorney knows what he or she is doing when it comes to resolving your case as quickly as the legal system allows.
  • Credibility! When you lie or change your story about what happened during the accident, this puts you and your attorney in a very difficult position. Attorneys must negotiate expertly on behalf of the client when it comes to recovering damages for them. If the story changes, this makes the attorney look like they lack experience even though this is certainly not the case. Plus, lying in court is 100% illegal. Once a client is under oath they are required to tell the entire truth to the judge and jury. Even the plaintiff themselves can face legal consequences if they choose to lie on the stand.
  • Live like someone is always watching! Social media, the occasional private investigator, the defense hired doctor, even your own attorney are all looking at what you’re doing throughout the course of the case. If you’re using Facebook and Instagram to post videos of yourself dancing, drinking, and partying but claim you’re unable to work due to injuries sustained in an accident, this doesn’t look credible to those involved in the case! In fact, it can destroy the entire case and leave the client with no compensation at all.

Why a Personal Injury Lawyer Might Refuse to Take Your Case

It’s Too Late to Sue

All personal injury cases are subject to lawsuit-filing deadlines set by the statute of limitations. Subject to a few exceptions, if you try to sue after the statutory deadline has passed, your case will get thrown out, and the attorney might face sanctions from the court.

The Lawyer Is Looking for a Particular Type of Case

Personal injury is just one area of practice in the legal profession, and there are subsets, including:

  • medical malpractice
  • product liability
  • industrial accidents, and
  • toxic torts.

If your case is outside the attorney’s area of expertise, they may pass on representing you. And even if your case falls under the lawyer’s expertise, the lawyer might represent only plaintiffs with a specific type of injury. For example, in a toxic tort case, there could be a long list of potential injuries that could result from exposure to a particular chemical, but the attorney might only take on cases where the plaintiff has suffered a specific type of cancer.

Your Case Will Be Hard to Win

Even if you have significant injuries and liability seems clear, a number of factors could derail your case, including:

  • your shared fault for the underlying accident
  • your delay in getting medical treatment for your injuries, and
  • your (perceived) credibility.

How should I prepare for my first meeting or telephone conversation with a lawyer?

The attorney will ask you questions designed to get the relevant information quickly and to determine if your situation is something the attorney is capable of and interested in handling. The attorney must also first check for conflicts of interest (where the attorney formerly or currently represents interests or individuals potentially involved in your case and therefore might appear biased or unable to fully represent your interests). In addition to the employer’s name, you will also be asked for the names of people involved in your case.

The attorney will want to know what acts you believe harmed you and what reasons were given by the employer to justify the employer’s decisions. The attorney will ask questions to determine whether you can prove that the reasons given are not true. Finally, the attorney needs to know how you were damaged and what you expect to recover. Many clients have unrealistic expectations about their case because of things they read in the papers or were told by others. Each case is different. Proof of events, credibility of witnesses and many other circumstances and variables make each case unique. You and your attorney must focus on your specific case.

While you talk, in addition to getting information, the attorney will evaluate you as a witness and client, in areas such as memory, honesty, appearance, attitude, cooperation, communication skills and many other characteristics. Do not lie or mislead your attorney. Understandably, clients may try to make their case look better than it is by saying that the company always settles its claims or that witnesses will come forward. Attorneys are not impressed with these representations. Please be honest and direct. You and your attorney must have trust and confidence in each other to give you the best chance to resolve your claim.

Go to the initial meeting prepared to show your lawyer not only the injustice of your dismissal but how you think the law was violated. Take supporting documents such as evaluations, witness statements, evidence concerning treatment of others, and medical records. Explain what you think your employer is likely to say in its defense. Prepare a summary of your economic (financial) damages.