Do I Have a Legal Malpractice Claim?
I live in South Carolina and was injured on the job, not through any fault of my employer, but through the negligence of a roofing company repairing the roof on the leased building. I fell on some very large stones and roofing material because I was reading a document while walking in the courtyard.
The roofing company superintendent immediately came to my aid because I was noticeably shaken and injured from the fall (blood, torn dress, etc). He gave me a business card and told me to contact the president. He also stated that he would inform the president of the incident.
I had severe pain in my knees and hips and was referred to a neurosurgeon who obviously was not going to provide support to my case. He sent a letter to the attorney stating that I already had spinal stenosis, that the pain in my lower back and hip is "referred pain," and that he couldn't state that the pain wasn't from that problem.
I continued with that physician even after realizing that he was not going to provide any help to my case. By the way, I also contacted an attorney when I realized the extent of my injuries. I am not a person who complains; however, even though I was in my 60's I never had the degree of discomfort that I experienced after my fall...both in my hips and in the knee that I fell on.
To make a long story short, I complained about the doctor multiple times to my attorney. Two years later, the attorney contacted me about a meeting with the insurance company. I kept my appointment; however, the attorney, after prompting me with potential questions at which time I became emotional, told me that I didn't have a strong case.
I signed off and was given a copy of his records...I finally read the records two years later and realized that the roofing company wasn't contacted until sometime shortly before the 2 year meeting. My suspicion was confirmed when I found a letter (dated 1-1/2 years after the accident) from the roofing company president stating that he was unaware of any such incident.
I know that this is past the statute of limitations; however, I trusted that the attorney did the right thing. It is several years later and I am now, at 69, in great pain, not in my lower back (where the stenosis is located), but in my knee and both hips.
During the two years, I never received any communication from my attorney, only from his aid who continually told me that they wished that the physician would be more cooperative. From what I can see, the file does not contain a "demand letter", only a letter from the roofing company owner stating that he was not aware of the incident and doesn't even recall doing any work in the area of the accident.
Is there any protection for someone whose attorney had no interest in this case from the very beginning, when I called his office multiple times reporting my uncomfortable relationship with the physician? Could this be a legal malpractice claim?
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ANSWER for "Do I Have a Legal Malpractice Claim?":
You should understand your attorney only was to be paid upon the settlement of your case. You can be confident her efforts were sincere.
Attorneys have different ways of dealing with cases. The fact that the roofing company had sent a letter to your attorney indicates there obviously was communication between your attorney and the roofing company well before the time you indicated. That communication may have been by telephone or email. Such communications are not readily available in hard copy form and thus not able to be placed in clients’ files.
Another reason may be your attorney’s method of practice may not include references to what they consider to be non-affecting case communications.
Many attorneys employ aids whose job is to communicate with clients. Attorneys with busy practices do not have the time to deal with every client who calls. If they had to spend time on the phone with each client they would have much less time to work on clients’ cases.
Finally, you mentioned during the case the attorney advanced money to you. Her doing so was rare. Very few attorneys advance money to clients. Attorneys do not like to be “bankers”.
From what you have presented it appears your attorney did all she could to effectively represent you.
Best of luck,