Firing My Injury Attorney...

by P
(Connecticut)

I am 5 years into my slip and fall accident case with a major national chain retail store. My injury attorney told me at the beginning that he was going to file my case for up to $300,000. Now that I am two months away from my mediation date, he informed me that he believes we are going to have to start the negotiations at $20,000.

That would mean, after my medical costs and his third, I would end up owing money to hospitals and doctors.

Five years ago, I fell in the retail store right after the first set of entrance doors. The floor was wet and there was no caution sign up. I fractured my pelvic bone in the fall. It left me in a great deal of pain and unable to work in my field, which was for public works/construction.

Two weeks before the fall I passed the physical necessary for my CDL (Commercial Drivers License), which was one of the requirements in applying for a full time job at the Public Works. I was deemed physically capable of performing the job duties that were required of me in this position.

After my injury from the fall at the store, I became physically ineligible for the full time job. In addition, I also lost my existing part time, per diem position at the Public Works.

I have not received updates or information from my lawyer. He does not return my phone calls or requests for a meeting. In the past five years, I was told about my deposition a day beforehand. He did not depose anyone on my behalf, not even my Doctor, and he did not have any advice for me on how I should proceed with my treatment.

I had no health insurance at the time and was in terrible pain. I could barely walk. I had to wait two years for disability to start to get my much needed surgery due to the fall, and disability only covers two-thirds of the bills.

There is much more, but I will end here, and ask, if there is any way to get a new attorney and fire the one that I have now? What are my options? He is sabotaging my case! Thank you.

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ANSWER for "Firing My Injury Attorney...":

P. (Connecticut):

It seems like you've gone through a very difficult last few years. Although I can't comment on the facts of the case, I can tell you this: You have an absolute right to terminate the services of your attorney. With that said there a few things you should know...

If you terminate his services you will likely:

A. Still owe him his contingency fee of 33.3% or 40%, depending upon your written fee agreement.

B. In addition to the contingency fee you will still owe your attorney the costs he advanced in your case, including but not limited to the court reporter's deposition fees, filing fees, copying costs, etc.

C. You will still owe the doctors and other medical providers any monies outstanding.

Finally, with the facts you present it is unlikely you will be able to find another personal injury attorney who will be willing to undertake your representation. That's because if he does, his fees will be subject to and subordinate to, your present attorney's fees and costs.

There isn't anything wrong with seeking a second opinion. Most personal injury attorneys won't charge for an initial office consultation.

If you seek a second or third opinion and the attorneys are convinced if they accept your case they will ultimately be able to settle the case (or win it at trial) for an amount large enough for you to be able to pay your first attorney's fees and costs, as well as your new attorneys, and that in so doing you will also walk away with an amount higher than you are apparently going to get now, then you would be well-served to dismiss your present attorney and retain a new one.

Otherwise, you may be stuck where you are.

If you must stay with your present attorney it would be a good idea to ask him if he could speak with your doctors and other medical providers and get them to agree to "compromise" or discount their fees. Ask your attorney to do the same. That may be the only way you may end up with any money for yourself.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION