After first responders and your insurance company, a car accident attorney is the next person you should call after you’ve been in a crash. This legal professional helps secure the correct amount of compensation you’re owed and is a major part of investigating the incident.
Sometimes, however, an attorney or lawyer might decline to represent your case. This often comes as a surprise to drivers, but there are a number of factors these professionals consider before working with you. Here are the deciding factors.
There are four elements that must be met before a driver can begin seeking compensation. As attorneys conduct their investigation of the incident, they’re looking for each of these legal requirements. The four elements are:
- Existing duty of care
- A breach of the duty of care
- Injuries caused by the breach
- Damages caused by the breach
Duty of Care
Duty of care is simply the responsibility a driver has to others on the road. You are responsible for maintaining their safety by following traffic laws, remaining focused behind the wheel, and paying attention to other motorists and pedestrians as you drive.
In seeking compensation, duty of care must exist in the scenario. An attorney must be able to show in court that the party you are seeking compensation from was careless, negligent, or otherwise failed in this duty.
Breach of Duty
Not every accident is caused by a careless or negligent driver. Weather, road conditions, and other hazards can play their part. The next factor an attorney looks at is whether or not the other party breached their duty of care by being negligent or careless.
In seeking compensation, an attorney must also prove that any injuries you sustained were a direct result of a breach of duty. This is often a simple process that only requires someone to view the cause and effect of an accident, but there are times when a driver’s injuries may have been caused by something else. In those instances, your case may not be picked up.
Next, an attorney looks at what damages you’ve suffered as a direct result of your incident. This can include everything from medical expenses to lost wages. Like injuries, these must also stem from the initial breach of duty from the party you are suing.
One smaller factor that could cause an attorney not to take your case is location. Legal professionals are licensed on a state-by-state basis. Some work only in one state, some work in several.
If you are trying to hire an attorney outside of your area, it’s not going to work. You would need to search for a car accident lawyer bay area if you lived in San Francisco, for instance. It’s a small factor, but worth remembering.
The Bottom Line
While investigating the four factors required to seek compensation, an attorney is asking themselves one main question. Would the defendant in this case be liable for the accident? That’s an easy question to answer in most cases, but some aren’t as cut and dry.
There are several accidents where the actions of both drivers led to the crash, and some instances where the person seeking compensation is actually the one at fault. Regardless, an attorney won’t take your case if the driver you’re seeking compensation from cannot be found liable for the accident based on these legal criteria.