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What do I do when I know that my lawyer is not working in my best interest & refuses to do anything other than sit & wait

Chandler, AZ |
Filed under: Professional ethics

MVA Jan 2014, hired young lawyer 3 yrs in practice recommended by Dr./ Wasn't keen on lack of experience but gave her a chance to prove herself. Gives no positive outcomes, downplays my injuries, makes me go thru her doc of choice who does nothing other then order xrays in the 5 or less minutes he spends w/me x 3 visits. Lawyer gets confirmation from insurance they only admit 70% liability & I request she presents argument for 100% . Driver admits at scene & to police he was 100% at fault yet lawyer refuses to present valid argument on my behalf for more then 70%. She wants to "see what they offer-it might just be enough she says" WHAT? FOR WHO? 5 months in pain, no work no money. Refuses to include all losses in settlement calc & implies self emp not worth anything (I have tax records)

MRI's show permanent damage "post traumatic event". I want my attorney to WORK for her fees just as I have had to suffer for 5 months in pain without income, a vehicle, and rising debts and stress every time I speak with lawyer who refuses to do anything i ask of her concerning my case. My life has completely changed and she lacks concern over my losses. Can I dismiss her for ineffective assistance and ask her to just bill for expenses (which should be VERY LITTLE) while I seek out a much more experienced attorney who will work WITH me and not against me?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. It is still early in your case. At this point, to develop your case, it is necessary that there be a good history of (appropriate) medical treatment. So 5 months is not a long time. That said, if you are unhappy, you should find a new lawyer. Your old lawyer most likely will have a lien on your case for any expenses and a certain percentage of the fee, based on whatever work she did. Your new lawyer and your old lawyer should be able to work that out.

    I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation, social security disability and legal malpractice. Nothing I write on Avvo is legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in anything I write on Avvo without retaining your own lawyer in your state. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.

  2. Your question underscores the importance of goal-setting at an early stage. You're in pain and frustrated and it sounds to me like your attorney is trying to remain "clinical". You take that as a lack of empathy and so the parallel conversations just spiral out of control. Schedule a sit-down with her and kindly share your concerns. If she is half the person your Dr. thinks she is, she will recognize your distress and move to recognize your legitimate concerns and detailed damages. She may also be referring to some so-called "Collateral Source" when she discounts your damages. Have her explain herself, but then LISTEN.

    I'm sorry for your pain and suffering.

  3. Sitting down with your attorney will go a long way in determining whether she truly understands your goals, and whether you understand the risks/benefits involved. If your attorney wants you to accept a settlement and you want 100% of the damages, then you're clearly not on the same page. Under the Ethical Rules, you make the decision whether to accept an agreement or not. If you and your attorney cannot agree on a resolution, you do have the right to fire her, but you'll want another attorney. Other attorneys should not discuss the case with you while you are already represented, unless your current attorney's representation is limited in scope. So you are not likely to secure a replacement attorney or a “second opinion” while another attorney represents you. I presume this case was taken on a contingency basis. Whether it is or not, consider the financial consequences of whatever decision you make. Your attorney may be hoping for a settlement, or she could have a more objective view of the chances of succeeding at trial. Talk to her about her thoughts on the case and the potential outcomes. Your question refers to ethics, so I have included a link to the ethical rules, to help guide your discussion with your attorney. Ethical Rule 1.3 requires attorneys to “…act with reasonable diligence and promptness…”

  4. I am not an Arizona attorney, but I do personal injury here in Connecticut. Let your instincts be your guide. You were referred to an attorney by a doctor. The attorney attorney insists that you use her Doctors. You are not comfortable with this arrangement. You do not feel that your attorney is advocating zealously, but instead is anxious to settle. You may feel that your attorney is not controlling costs due to this referral relationship with the doctor.

    Hire another attorney and switch providers ASAP. There may be some downside to switching, but you need to be comfortable with your attorney.

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