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Can A Lawyer Withdraw From A Civil Case Without A Reason?

Indianapolis, IN |

On November 22 2010 my husband was struck by a bus. I immediately obtained a lawyer. My husband is disabled for life, due to this accident. After working on the case for 2 years, without a resolution, we received a letter, saying our attorney is withdrawing from the case. No reason was given.

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

Not necessarily, and perhaps not without Court permission if you object and seek judicial resolution. Generally, an attorney can withdraw in a court motion with only giving vague or no reasons on the basis (or pretext) that giving reasons could disclose attorney-client privileged information, so reasons will be cited like "inability to communicate or cooperate with client", but here there may be issues as to whether the attorney properly preserved your rights by timely filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit with the bus company. Also, sometimes attorneys are not allowed to withdraw on the eve of trial.

Usually, depending on the court rules, an attorney cannot just withdraw unilaterally without permission, but it requires a court motion (or at least careful attorneys ask for permission and do it by motion).

The best thing for you to do is to immediately see another attorney, get your files from attorney #1 and make sure he properly perserved your rights. I believe (according to a quick web search) that the statute of limitations in Indiana for personal injury may be as little as two years from the date of accident (Ind. Code Ann. Sec. 34-11-2-4) and perhaps even less if the bus was being operated by a public transit system.

In other words, your attorney may have screwed up already and is trying to back out to cover himself, in which case you may have a malpractice action against him and his law firm rather than an action against the bus operator.

In any event, see another attorney as soon as possible to clarify your rights here and advise you what the next step should be.

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Asker

Posted

The lawsuit has already been filed by this attorney. Does this make a difference?

Asker

Posted

We have a deposition scheduled for this Wednesday.

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

I'm not understanding exactly. The "lawsuit" (against you??) has "already been filed" by the attorney and you have a "deposition"? Do you mean he's made a motion before the court and there's a hearing for Wednesday? You definitely need another lawyer, because he'll probably be allowed to withdraw, but you may need to have conditions imposed to protect you. Let's hope he's sued the bus company, figures you don't have much of a case (this is a contingency case, right, where you haven't paid anything to the lawyer but he will get a cut of any settlement or verdict), and you can take the file to another lawyer with more enthusiasm for your case. And if he's truly just sat on your case, there are possibly malpractice damages against the lawyer or you can complain to the state bar authorities and the can discipline him because "diligence" is an ethnical rule for attorneys most everywhere. Discipline means written warnings, suspension or license or even disbarment. See another lawyer quickly. You can find one on Avvo near you who works in the "ethics"/"professional responsibility with the "find a lawyer" tab. And don't forget the tip jar (helpful/best answer) here. :-)

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

Good counsel.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

as usual

Posted

First of all , call the attorney and ask why . Next call another attorney in the area who handles accident cases and is familiar with the local court rules. In Lake County we MUST send a letter to our client and advise them of a withdrawl from the case 10 days before the Motion is filed with the court and the letter must be attached to the motion filed with the court. It probably is not worth the time to fight the withdrawl as it more than likely will be allowed. It always depends on the timing, however. If you had a hearing coming up or a trial the Judge might not approve the withdrawl. But that having been said , next either get your file(a copy of everything) to take to the other lawyer or let the other lawyer take care of getting the file, in other words let the new attorney decide how to handle that process. It is likely the new attorney can get an explanation of the "why" if that still is important to you after you consult and hire a new lawyer. The other lawyer even though he dropped from the case will probably be entitled to his fees and expenses but that will be the responsibility of the new lawyer to take care of if there is a settlement or a verdict. BUt just get a new lawyer as soon as you can.