What to do when you PI case was handled completely unethically?

Asked over 1 year ago - Graham, WA

I had a car accident back in November of 2009, it just settled on or about December 14th 2012. I had hired an attorney who did very little if nothing at all on my case for about a year, after asking over and over for this attorney to close it up he decided he needed more info from me, it was clear that he was dragging his feet. After promises of closing up my case (my treatment was over, very expensive & the bills were mounting) he needed yet more info from me. Being completely feed up with his run around, I fired him. I have a friend that is an attorney and she took my case. She had it for nearly 2 years and little to no progress happened with it. She had two of her friends from Law school join and then suddenly they want 40% I signed their fee agreement 1 day before the settlement came

Attorney answers (7)

  1. S. David Rosenthal Esquire

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . There's not enough information here to make an informed judgment. My first question would be why the case took so long in the hands of two different attorneys - were the attorneys not doing their job or was there something about the case that made it more difficult to resolve? I would also want to know why additional attorneys were needed to resolve the case. While the timing of the new retainer and settlement is unusual, more facts would be needed about the case and its posture at the time the new agreement as well as the settlement to say whether there is an ethical issue.

    Good luck.

  2. Thuong-Tri Nguyen

    Contributor Level 20

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . In WA, "A contingent fee agreement shall be in a writing and signed by the client". RPC RULE 1.5.

    The RPC does not specify, but I would think that the agreement must be signed earlier in the representation and not "1 day before the settlement came".

    You should discuss your concerns with your attorneys. If you are not satisfied with their answers and think they broke ethical rules, you can file a complaint (free) with the WA State Bar Association at www.wsba.org . The WSBA is the entity that licenses and regulates attorneys in WA.

  3. William John Carlson

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If you feel you were treated unethically, your remedy is either a complaint to your state bar association or a suit alleging attorney negligence. I don't believe a Fee Agreement can or should be renegotiated by the attorney at the last minute. I suggest discussing this with your attorney before initiating a complaint, however.
    With regard to the perceived delays, there are often good reasons for this. For example, did you continue to treat during the time period? Did you insist on settlement without filing a lawsuit? Did you ultimately settle your case for fair value? Most importantly, did you discuss your concerns with either of your attorneys? Finally, did you do anything that contributed to the delays you have described? Perhaps the fault, if there is any, lies with your level of cooperation as well.

  4. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Fee arbitration.

    Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com
  5. Kevin Coluccio

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You need to review the contract with the friend/attorney. You can discharge the attorney and seek new counsel.

  6. Leah S Snyder

    Contributor Level 4

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Discuss your feelings with your attorney. Or, you could retain a different attorney and ask for their advice in this matter. If you feel like something unethical has happened you can report the conduct to the local bar association but their disciplinary proceedings generally do not resolve fee disputes. http://www.wsba.org/Licensing%20and%20Lawyer%20.... If you feel the fee was too high you can ask the attorney to participate in alternative dispute resolution with you http://www.wsba.org/Licensing-and-Lawyer-Conduc....

    My responses to questions on Avvo are for informational purposes only and are never intended as legal advice.... more
  7. Jeffrey Mark Adams

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with Mr. Rosenthal. Need more direction from you (poster). Thanks

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and... more
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