Lawyer dropped my case, what now?

by Elizabeth
(Lake Worth, FL)

I was stopped at a red light, and a truck with a landscaping trailer on it rear ended me. I sought legal advice, and my friend owns the car that I drive. The attorney made me seek medical advice, and have an MRI. I was scheduled to make a statement to my insurance company, but the lawyer cancelled it. He wanted more information.

It is now six weeks later, I still am in a rental car, and the lawyer dropped the case. What do I do now? Why would my lawyer just drop the case like that? Is dropping a case like that allowed? I'm really lost here. Thanks for any perspective you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Lawyer dropped my case, what now?":

Elizabeth (Lake Worth, FL):

Read the Contingency Fee Agreement signed by you and the attorney. Your attorney was likely providing legal representation based on that agreement. The agreement sets out the ground rules for the attorney's duties to you, and those duties you have to the attorney.

Most contingency fee agreements provide for an attorney's right to withdraw from a claim for good cause. That cause includes learning the amount of damages isn't sufficient to support a financially viable claim. (The agreement for legal representation may be called something other than an Engagement Letter.)

You state "The attorney made me seek medical advice, and have an MRI." To blame the attorney is inappropriate. You undoubtedly contacted a personal injury attorney to represent you in your car collision claim. For the attorney to have any chance of succeeding in such a claim, his or her client (you) would have to have "damages" to support a claim for injuries.

Damages can include your medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, bandages, crutches, costs of travel to treatment, etc.), lost wages, and for your pain and suffering.

The attorney likely directed you to seek medical advice, including the MRI for two reasons. The first was to be sure any injuries you sustained were identified and fully treated. The second was to establish the existence of damages.

While the facts you present make clear the other driver was wholly negligent, negligence alone is not sufficient to sustain a viable personal injury claim. To succeed in an injury claim requires evidence of negligence AND resulting damages.

You have a minimal amount of damages. It is likely your medical bills didn't exceed a thousand dollars or so. With that amount of damages, it is understandable your attorney doesn't want to continue pursuing the claim.

Don't give up! While your present attorney may have withdrawn from your representation, there may be any umber of attorneys who will accept your claim. Here's how to choose the best injury attorney for your case.

Be sure to ask your present attorney to give you a letter releasing you of any liability for his or her attorney's fees. In most cases, personal injury attorneys have a lien on a client's claim. If you don't get the attorney to release the lien you will have a very difficult time finding another attorney to agree to represent you.

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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