We turn down more cases that we accept. It’s usually because the case is so small that it wouldn’t justify the time that we’d need to spend. We’d rather help clients that really need us due to major problems.
The other big reason we turn down a case is if we don’t think there is a case to be made. It’s unethical for a lawyer to file a case when he knows that it has no merit. In fact, an attorney could lose their license for doing this. Besides, who would want to waste their time with a case that in the end is going to be a ton of work for no money? So from a selfish standpoint, no lawyer in their right mind should take on a crappy case. That doesn’t mean we don’t take on tough cases, but it does mean we won’t take on cases that have no reasonable chance.
I thought of this when I was contacted by a woman who wanted me to help a relative of hers. He was at work and had some drinks after he punched out. He drank too much and went to his car in the parking lot to get a nap and sleep off the alcohol. Somehow the car caught fire and he was burned.
An attorney told them that they have a great case because it happened on company property. My take is that it’s not a case at all because he wasn’t working, put himself at risk of injury because of the drinking and the car has nothing to do with his employer. But because some lawyer told them they have a great case, their expectations are huge. Shockingly, that attorney withdrew from the case after he filed it and was told by the insurance company that they won’t pay a penny.
So now the family is calling around to new lawyers and they have unrealistic expectations. When you call us, we don’t promise we’ll tell you what you want to hear, but we’ll always tell the truth. And if we do take on your case, we’ll fight like hell for you. And we’ll have time to do that because we don’t waste our time with cases that shouldn’t be brought in the first place.
Written by Michael Helfand