San Francisco, CA asked in Legal Malpractice for California

Q: Can I fire my personal injury attorney if I feel like he's not answering my questions promptly and communicating to me?

Hello, I live in California, I hired a personal lawyer back at the end of June 2020. I told him I didn't want the case to drag on forever and I'd be fine with the settlement originally offered, I was afraid of not getting proper medical care. The money is great but not the most important part to me. He promised it wouldn't take very long, yet, here we r in October and I've only seen 2 doctor's and one of those doctor's, one of them I didn't need to see. I told them I didn't need to see that doctor but they didn't listen, so I went anyways. Not to mention, they switched assistants on me and didn't even tell me. Presumably, they fired the original assistant and gave me a new one, I didn't know this until I called them to ask about my case. There is more I'd like to say but there is a limit to how much I can write. If I do fire him, will he still collect his 33% for his crappy lawyering?

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4 Lawyer Answers
Theodore Allan Greene
Theodore Allan Greene
Answered
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Your lawyer might have a claim to some of the fees. It's really hard to fully understand the situation with what you have said but there is a good chance he/she has earned some percentage of the 33 and possibly the whole amount. Sometimes it's the other side that slows things up.

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If you fire him, he will be entitled to collect for his representation of you. If you were ready to accept the settlement offered, it isn't clear to me why your attorney did not do this. You are not married to the attorney and you can relieve him from the case by giving him written notice and signing any documents necessary to remove him as your attorney of record- BUT you may be obligated to pay his reasonable fees for representation of you. The attorney is entitled to manage his office personnel as he sees fit without any notice to you. I also notice you are bitterly complaining that this is taking too long, from June to October. You apparently do not have any idea about what processing a case through court requires. The Court does not even set the first hearing for 120 days. All of what you are complaining about sounds like the attorney may be vigorously representing you to maximize the value of your case- which is exactly what he is supposed to do and if he did not you would be complaining to the Bar association about that. Consult with another PI attorney in your local area.

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Haleh Shekarchian
Haleh Shekarchian
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Beverly Hills, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Your prior attorney has to prove what he has done on the case to be able to collect attorney’s fees. If you hire a new lawyer, the new lawyer will share his fees with the prior lawyer so it would not reduce your share of the settlement. You should contact anyone of us on Justia for a free consultation.

Dale S. Gribow
Dale S. Gribow
Answered
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: YES, YOU CAN CHANGE LAWYERS AT ANY TIME.

THE 2 LAWYERS WOULD THEN DIVIDE THE 1/3 AND IF THEY CAN'T AGREE THERE WILL BE A FEE DISPUTE ARBITRATION.

HOWEVER, CASES HAVE A LESSER VALUE THAN SAY 10-20 YEARS AGO. THUS A SMALLER CASE MAY NOT BE WORTHWHILE FOR THE 2ND LAWYER TO COME ABOARD. IN ADDITION WITH COVID THE COURTS ARE ALL MESSED UP.

LAWYERS SET UP MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS TO SUPPORT AN ARGUMENT/INJURY.

INSURANCE CO'S STALL ALL THE TIME AND USE YOUR MONEY....THEY DENY AND DELAY...........AND THE DEFENSE LAW FIRM ONLY MAKES MONEY WHEN THE CASE DOES NOT SETTLE. THUS THEY OFTEN SET UP INTERROGS AND DEPO'S WHICH AT FIRST BLUSH LOOK UNNECESSARY.

DON'T FIRE THE LAWYER UNTIL YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH WHOM YOU WILL CHOOSE.

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