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Can I sue my PI attorney/firm for legal malpractice, lack of representation, among other things?

Orlando, FL |

During my February 2014 Settlement meeting, my attorney did a shocking 360-turn around on me in an effort to convince me to accept the minuscule Settlement amount offered opposed to our original plan to proceed to trial. The offered amount did not even cover medical expenses. My injuries were extensive leaving me with lifelong physical and psychological limitations. I immediately turned down this offer. Later, a reliable source informed me my attorney was offered a kick-back by the defendant if I accept the settlement. I am now disabled. Subsequently, I learned my attorney requested an extension on the time I had to respond on several occasions despite my immediate rejection of this offer and without my knowledge and consent. I made several written request for information on the status, legal strategy of my case and most importantly the court date. I have not received a response. Now, it has been over three years since my accident occurred. Do I have any legal recourse or has my attorney caused so much damage and delays that my case is beyond repair?

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

Did your attorney tell you why s/he was recommending the settlement? Sometimes we discover things during the litigation that we did not know before filing suit, which make a trial less likely to result in a good outcome for the client. I am very troubled by your statement that the attorney was offered a kick back from the defendant or carrier to settle your case. That is something you would need to take up with the Florida Bar. First, I would suggest making an office appointment to sit down and talk to the attorney face to face about the future of your case. If you have lifelong disabilities related to your case, then it seems the delay would not cause that much damage to your case, certainly it would not be "damaged beyond repair" if you have devastating injuries. It often takes a long time to get a case to trial anyway, so it's difficult/impossible for any attorney here to say whether your attorney did anything to damage your case. You should read the contract you signed with your attorney - most contracts give the attorney a lot of discretion on case strategy. You should talk to your current attorney about the status and future of your case and if you are still unhappy, consider seeking new counsel. I hope you are still able to have a good outcome and wish you the best of luck.

Although I am happy to give my opinion freely based on my knowledge, experience, and training as a personal injury attorney, the opinions I give in response to questions posed on AVVO should not be construed as legal advice and should not be relied on to make legal decisions.

Asker

Posted

Yes; however, there were no new discovery, no legal work was conducted by my attorney. My attorney said they did not order depositions, discovery, investigators, etc. was because they wanted to keep expenses down. My attorney agreed that the percentage of winning had not changed from the time they accepted my case. I reiterate, there were attempts to PUSH me into accepting the Settlement despite our agreement to go to trial at the end of the Settlement meeting. Plus, actions were taken without my knowledge and/or written/verbal consent in that regard. Nothing changed from the time the case was filed through Settlement. This was the catalyst that sparked me to take a deeper look at the reasons my case was not progressing, why my attorney seemed to be aligned with the Defendant the day of the Settlement and the reasons there were no responses to my inquiries.

Alyson Marie George

Alyson Marie George

Posted

Many lawyers do not take depositions before mediation to keep costs down, although it seems that at a minimum interrogatories and request to produce would have been sent and answered. When you say "new discovery" - there may be nothing new to discover after the first set. We really dont know enough about your case to give you meaningful advice here. You're obviously unhappy with this lawyer. It may be time to find a new one. I would still call your current lawyer to see if he has set the case for trial and what other steps towards trial have been taken. If none, time to look for a new lawyer.

Posted

Legal malpractice claims can be very difficult to assess, especially when talking about whether a settlement is appropriate. Therefore, I suggest you consult with a good local lawyer to thoroughly review the facts and circumstances of your case. Good luck.

Posted

First, it is extremely unlikely that a kick-back was offered. I have heard these allegations repeatedly, but I have never seen any proof of them. Of course, if you have proof, you should turn it over to the Florida Bar. The lawyer's career will be at an end with proof of that kind.

Second, I see no damages. None. You did not accept the offer, so you saved yourself from what you see as a betrayal. All you have to do is discharge your lawyer and get a new one. If the old lawyer charges a fee you can attempt to defend against the claim with your assertions.

Third, why did your lawyer change positions? Did you ask? What was the answer? Maybe there is a problem with proving liability? Or maybe critical damage testimony was compromised? Or maybe there is not enough left on the liability insurance policy? But, if you lawyer really does not want to try your case for some reason not related to its merits (liability, damages, or collectability) , get a new lawyer who will try the case.

This is a summary based on incomplete facts. You should not rely on it as legal advise. No attorney-client relationship is intended to be formed.

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