We just celebrated Thanksgiving where we gave thanks during wonderful dinners for all we have. However, many of our neighbors recently injured in an auto accident continue to suffer while they can’t find a lawyer to help them. WHY YOU ASK?

People often wonder why attorneys will not accept their accident case. Most people believe if they were injured then they have a case. Well, only dog bite accidents have Strict Liability which means if a dog bites you then the owner is responsible. That is why I love dog bite cases!

For all other accidents, causation is the most important factor. To hold someone responsible for your injuries an attorney has to show the party at fault breached a legal duty. In other words, the lawyer must show the defendant did something wrong, resulting in an injury.

A severe injury is not enough. For instance, if you blow a stop sign and get in a major accident with horrendous injuries, the first question is who was a fault? If it was you then the conversation is over. In order to find someone legally accountable you must show they were at fault for your injuries.


If you are partly at fault, a lawyer may reject your case because the value of the case will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Thus, there may not be enough money in the case for the lawyer, let alone the plaintiff. In other words, a lawyer will analyze whether they can prove the other party is legally responsible and that injuries can be compensated for by the other parties insurance company.

Other reasons to reject a case are when the injury is not serious enough. It is not enough for the potential client to say “I could almost have been killed.” Almost is not enough! The damages/injuries are a way of gauging the expected recovery. The legal system does not deal in speculation for either injuries or potential loss of earnings.

In an accident case, the degree to which you were hurt by someone else’s fault is the most important factor. Without the substantial injuries it just may not be economically worth it for the law firm to handle the case.

If a potential client is elderly, a lawyer may reject the case because of their concern the victim may not survive until a trial date. Some defense lawyers will stall on settling the case, hoping the victim will pass away. If that happens the pain and suffering aspect of the case passes with them.

If a lawyer accepts the case it will be on a contingency. That means the lawyer will take 1/3 of the recovery unless the case is in litigation. A lawyer looks to see whether it is financially worth it to take the case. For instance, will the client be a problem client?

On the other hand, a defense lawyer is paid hourly and thus has a vested interest in the case not settling quickly. Some defense firms milk cases and take unnecessary depositions or send out discovery that is not really needed to evaluate the case. These costs all reduce the recovery to the victim.

When a lawyer interviews you the attorney looks to see if you have been talking to other lawyers (let alone the insurance company) and what the lawyers have said. In other words, is the client looking to find a lawyer that will agree with their opinion as to the value of the case?

Defense lawyers get paid whether they win or lose the case. However the plaintiff’s side is stuck with the costs and do not get the money back unless they win. Obviously, a personal injury lawyer must be a good business person and thus accept or reject a case after careful consideration and guesstimates of time and money to be invested versus chances of success.

Suggestions for future columns contact Dale Gribow at (760) 837-7500 or dale@dalegribowlaw.com.


“TOP LAWYER” – California’s Prestige Magazine, Palm Springs Life (PI/DUI) 2011-19

“TOP LAWYER” – Inland Empire Magazine 2016- 2019

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