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What are my options; my attorney has not represented me or returned my calls regarding my personal injury settlement in months.

Las Vegas, NV |
Filed under: Professional ethics

I was hit by an unlicensed driver on October 9th, 2011. The car he was driving was registered and insured to Somebody who admitted letting him drive the vehicle without a license. My attorney has switched me between 3 legal assistants since then; all of which are no longer employed. How do I settle this claim and move on with my life? I signed with them for representation over a year ago...

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

You have the right to hire or fire any attorney at any time. Depending on the fee agreement signed, your attorney may have a right to "lien" your file. This means your attorney may be able to keep your file and will likely be entitled to a portion of your settlement should you choose to switch attorneys. Practically speaking, often when a client switches attorneys the client's portion of the settlement remains unchanged, while the current and former attorney workout a spilt of the contingency fee. However, you should know, that switching attorneys may impede settlement if the two attorneys are unable to agree to a fee split. In rare situations, the settlement is deposited with the court and a judge decides the entitlement of each person.

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

but if I were to fire my Attorney, and hire a new one...what's the statute if limitations to go after their insurance provider? The accident happened on October 9, 2011

Justin L. Watkins

Justin L. Watkins

Posted

In a personal injury action you have two years to file a lawsuit. If a lawsuit has already been filed, your new attorney will simply file a Substitution of Attorney and the statute of limitations will be irrelevant because the lawsuit will have been filed with the limitations period. Any new attorney you consult with should be able to search court records to determine if a suit has been filed.

Posted

Attorney Watkins is correct. I would follow his recommendations. Thank you and I wish you the best of luck!

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Posted

You can fire your lawyer by sending a termination letter. You can find a new lawyer, one who is responsive, on Avvo. Good luck.

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Posted

Attorney Watkins is spot on in his analysis. You will want to make sure your attorney is still representing you. Many law offices will drop a case if there is a coverage issue, and they will send a letter to your last known address. There are many problems with this practice if the person has changes addresses or does not communicate via US mail.

I started practice as an insurance defense attorney and wrote many coverage opinions for insurers. Depending on the insurer or the insurance agreement with the defendant, there might be a coverage issue here since an unlicensed driver was driving another's car. When selecting an attorney, it is quite important to hire one that has experience in insurance law. These issues can arise and confuse some attorneys.

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Posted

Some PI firms in Las Vegas that get their clients mainly by advertising hire non-lawyers to basically run the cases. In theory there is a supervising lawyer to keep the State Bar off their backs.

I think you should feel free to consult with a new lawyer to see about taking your case; if you have only been served by legal assistants I think the new lawyer can take over without worrying too much about a lien, although you should get the new lawyer to pay any lien from the old lawyer out of their fee.

That said, as another answer pointed out , there could be problems with your case such as insurance coverage issues.

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