I hired a personal injury lawyer because he was very nice and always available whenever I called him (before signing contigency agreement) ...but just a day after signing agreement everything changed...he would not respond to my call or return my calls....he would answer my emails saying oh I was busy. I had to discuss with him about my therapies which was an important question but attorney said please find some one else because he does not have time. I feel deceived why was he so nice and now cold, mean.
What can I do in this case..? I already signed up a agreement and he ordered my medical records ....I have to pay that cost? can I complaint to bar association? is this a legal malpractice case? Statue of limitation is only 3 months away and he tells me to find someone else...
You have every right to hire another attorney. I am in Seattle and would be happy to speak with you, but always encourage people in your situation to work things out with their attorney if possible. If you go to an another attorney your current attorney would more than likely have a lien on your case for the costs spent.
I agree with Evan that he might claim a lien, however if he told you to find another lawyer, one could also argue that he has has waived any lien by telling you to find someone else only three months from the statute of limitations. I would suggest that if he is intent on you finding another attorney you should ask him to withdraw so you can hire another attorney without having to worry about a lien. You will still owe for the out of pocket expenses associated with getting your medical records and such, but at least then you are free to hire other counsel without worrying about a lien for his time. As for the bar complaint, I don't think it is worth your hassle. Consider his withdrawal a gift if he does not want to talk to you. How would it be if you had to go to trial with him and face a jury, and the jury picks up on the fact he does not treat you well and does not care for you. With the statute of limitations approaching you need counsel who is willing to go to arbitration or trial. Often times, attorneys who do not try cases and who see that a case is likely to be tried will withdraw if they don't have the experience or staying power to take a case to trial. If that is what is happening, get him to withdraw and find other counsel. If you terminate him, he will possibly be entitled to a lien. So ask him to withdraw, and if he refuses then tell him to put his big boy pants on and get ready for trial if he calls itself a trial lawyer. Frankly, if the insurance company knows you have hired a lawyer that tries cases regularly, they are far more likely to make a fair settlement offer than with someone who doesn't try cases. Moral of the story, if you hire a paper tiger, it will fold when the insurance carrier puts weight on it. Get someone who enjoys trying cases. Having tried well over 100 jury trials, give is a call and if we can't help you being in Seattle, we can give you the name of a good trial laser in Tacoma. Scott Blair
Based on his statement to you, the indications here are that you are dealing with an ethical and professional attorney who has the skill and experience to recognize early on that this attorney-client relationship is a bad fit. Be grateful for his insight and candor and now you respond in kind: candidly, professionally, and constructively. In other words, either ask your lawyer his position on the lien issue, or find other counsel and let that counsel solve this issue. Very likely there is not going to be a problem. The current attorney just wants you to go somewhere else.
I am sure that this will not be persuasive to you, but it bears saying that there is nothing in what you have written that justifies your sense of having been "deceived." Attorneys are service providers and they must budget their time and allocate their efforts across a number of competing demands at any given time. Every successful attorney has had the experience of the needy client who is on the phone and email constantly, requiring vastly more hand-holding and repetitive assurances and progress reports that was anticipated by the lawyer or should be be necessary. Lawyers know that there is neither time nor opportunity to change these people. It is a mark of skill to identify those clients early on and work with them to find more appropriate representation with lawyers whose caseload and other responsibilities allow a higher quantity of personal interaction. In very few cases is the quality of the legal work and the outcome of the legal matter correlated with the client's need for interaction with the attorney, at least in the early stages of the case.
Usually if a PI lawyer "fires" a client, the lawyer won't claim a lien for time. As for the lien for costs, for example what the lawyer had to pay to get your medical records, that is a cost any lawyer would bill to a client. The big concern I have here is that the case is close to the statute of limitations. The closer it gets the less attractive it will be to good lawyers. Don't waste time finding a new lawyer.
Legal malpractice is when an attorney harms a client through unreasonable errors, and harm would not have occurred "but for" the errors.
If you suffer a personal injury as the result of the actions or negligence of another, you may seek financial compensation for physical or emotional damages.
Written by attorney Michael Shelton
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