Mar 13, 2024

Why Doesn’t My Injury Qualify for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Scales of Justice

At Morgan & Morgan, we understand the hardships involved with a personal injury and that seeking legal help can be daunting.

Our mission has always been to provide unwavering support for those in need, and that’s why it’s never easy for us when we are unable to take on a case.

Even when you are injured due to no fault of your own and an attorney has carefully reviewed your claim, sometimes a law firm may be unable to move forward and assist you.

Here are some of the reasons why this might happen.

Your injuries may not meet the law’s criteria

If you feel that you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, there may be no doubt in your mind that you deserve compensation. Any pain or inconvenience that you experience is very real to you, and we understand that. Unfortunately, the ability to prove this legally is an entirely different battle.

When an attorney files a personal injury lawsuit, they’re usually seeking to recover “damages,” such as lost wages, medical expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering. If you haven’t missed any work or haven’t had any medical expenses, you may not be able to recover either of the first two types of damages.

Regarding pain and suffering, many states require that you have what’s called a “threshold injury,” meaning one that is permanent or severe. You can have an injury that leaves you in significant pain and affects your life short-term, but it may not be considered serious enough (in a legal sense) to allow for pain and suffering damages. 

For example, if you've only seen a chiropractor and taken over-the-counter medicine, your medical expenses may not be very high, and there won't be much an attorney can recover on your behalf.

Attorneys can’t recover expenses that don’t exist. If you don’t have some combination of these damages, it can be hard to pursue a case.

The other party wasn’t responsible for your injury

To recover compensation from another party’s insurance company, that party must have acted negligently in a way that caused or contributed to your injuries. 

For example, if you slipped and fell on someone’s property, your attorney would need to prove that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, such as a puddle or ice patch, that caused your injury.

In situations where no one was at fault, where it’s unclear who was at fault, or where you were responsible for your own injuries, it can be challenging to prove that you are entitled to compensation. 


The at-fault party doesn’t have insurance

Personal injury attorneys often file lawsuits against insurance companies, not individuals. 

Sometimes the amount of insurance coverage that the other party has is insufficient to cover the injured person’s medical expenses or to fully compensate them for their injuries. In these situations, a lawyer may not be able to pursue a case because there may be no way to recover what the injured party needs and deserves.

If the person responsible for your injuries is uninsured or has extremely limited coverage, a firm may regrettably be unable to help you.


A law or statute forbids it

From state to state, laws can vary, and sometimes they can prohibit certain lawsuits. These legal restrictions can include any of the following:

Conflict of interest: A lawyer can’t represent both sides in a car crash, for example.

Government immunity: Often attorneys are unable to sue the government—or they at least have a very narrow window in which to do so. There are exceptions, such as a police officer crashing into someone when they’re not pursuing a criminal, but these are rare.

State or local laws: Every state has its own laws that determine if and when a lawsuit can be filed. Some of these laws may seem unfair, but if they block someone from pursuing a case, the attorney’s hands are tied.

Statute of limitations: Every state also has its own statute of limitations—a deadline by which a lawsuit must be filed. Usually, this is one, two, three, or four years after an incident has occurred.

Attorneys can’t file a case after that deadline except in rare circumstances. Birth injury is one of a few exceptions. Additionally, because they need time to investigate a potential case before filing a complaint, a law firm may have to turn the case down if the deadline is too close for a successful outcome.


No Matter What, Keep Going

A personal injury can be devastating and life-altering. Here’s what to do if a firm is unable to take your case: 

Ask for a second opinion. Always ask another firm to review your case, they may choose to represent you. 
Ask the firm for a referral. In some cases, a firm may not specialize in your exact case type. It’s always worth asking if there is another firm or attorney that they would recommend. 
Consider small-claims court. Also known as a county or magistrate’s court in some places, small-claims court enables you to sue an individual without an attorney. Different states have different maximum amounts for a small-claims court claim, be sure to check the requirements of your state. 

Remember that a law firm’s inability to represent you does not diminish the validity of your concerns or the significance of your situation. Most importantly, regardless of the limitations of the law, be sure to focus on your recovery and moving forward with your life. Continue to seek the support and assistance you need during this challenging time. If you believe your case was turned down in error or new information comes to light, always reach out again to see if your case is now viable.