Lawyer didn't research driver's insurance?

by Bertram
(Georgetown, KY)

I was at a gas station on 7-15-2015 in Kentucky, and me and the clerk were at the outside ice machine trying to get a bag of ice. I was struck twice by a man driving his vehicle into my body. He then sped away, almost hitting more people and vehicles and screeching his tires on the highway. Everything was caught on video and the incident was witnessed by several people.

I had prior back problems (I have the MRI from my old doctors in Florida back in 2012). I went to a KY hospital, then my primary doctor who got me to a back specialist in Kentucky. The new MRI after the accident shows more back injuries and now neck injuries.

I have been going to PT but they say I need surgery, and I have now lost feeling in my right hand, from my thumb to middle finger, all the way to my elbow.

I got the police report, who saw the video and identified the person who hit me, but they could not find him or get his insurances info. I got a lawyer who stated that they sent letters to the address of the person but they only get returned from the address.

I got upset and did my own investigation and research. I paid the DMV $3 and they sent me his information, his new address and insurance info, which state he was covered by State Farm at time of accident (his policy is from 6-2015 to 11-2015).

I hate that me as the victim had to do this research, something my lawyers couldn't or didn't do. I don't know if I should go to a different law firm or not. I'm confused on what's going to happen in this lawsuit and what do do next. Can I change law firms? What can I do here? Thank you for any perspective you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Lawyer didn't research driver's insurance?":

Bertram (Georgetown, KY):

You certainly have the right to change attorneys. You can dismiss (fire) your present attorney and seek legal representation elsewhere. Keep in mind, your current attorney likely has a lien on proceeds from any settlement or court award you may eventually receive in this claim.

In personal injury claims, most attorneys have embedded in the attorney-client employment agreement a clause which permits the attorney to retain an interest in the claim. These clauses are entirely legitimate, as often times clients become frustrated with their attorneys and "hop" from one lawyer to another.

Because personal injury attorneys work on contingency fee basis, they are not paid until, and unless they settle the client's claim or win it in court.

The problem is, when a client decides to change attorneys, the primary attorney has lost that amount of time and effort he or she has already put into the claim. As a result, the clause in the employment agreement assures the primary attorney will eventually be paid for his or her services on behalf of the their former client. This is normally referred to as an attorney's "lien."

Before terminating the services of your present attorney, speak with other personal injury attorneys in your area. Many attorneys do not like to accept injury claims when there are one or more attorney's liens already on the claim. Those liens, especially when an injury claim settlement is not substantial, can leave all attorneys involved with a very small amount in fees.

At this point you would be best-served to make an appointment with your present attorney and speak with him or her face to face. Ask all the questions you have about the claim and vent your frustrations about those issues which are bothering you.

If you do, you will likely learn your attorney is doing all he or she cam to settle your claim as soon as possible. Remember, your attorney doesn't get paid a cent until he or she settles your claim or wins in court. Because of this you can be confident your attorney wants nothing more than to succeed in your claim, and to do so as soon as possible.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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