Miami, FL asked in Personal Injury for Florida

Q: What can be done to prevent a lawyer from imposing a lien if you need to switch lawyers because he has not done his job

correctly, deposed a Dr that he was told not to, gave defense wrong info they are going by, will not do the research nor talk to the dr's that are specialists that are a necessity. It's a PI case where I had an accident dec 30th 2014, sustained injuries and have a brittle bone condition I was born with that made this so much worse and this lawyer is asking me to take a very low settlement because he knows he blew the case by deposing that dr, event though he got the correct answers from another Dr he deposed, that contradicts the other dr in that he is confirming the problems I will have from the permanent injuries and the dr that was not supposed to be deposed because he never treated me for my left leg & as not a specialist in my condition, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, he stated I was back to pre-fall condition in 3 months after the accident when the other dr said no there is permanent damage when there is. I want a new lawyer but do not want a lien put on me. What can I do?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: If your retainer contract with your lawyer has the standard lien language and you fire him, he can then file a notice of lien in your case, and upon any recovery, his fees would likely be based on the amount of work he put in compared to the amount of work a subsequent lawyer would put it to complete the case. Sounds like your case has been pending for a substantial period of time with several steps in the discovery proceedings taking place. For that reason, it may be difficult to find a replacement lawyer on a contingency fee basis. Also, where a lawyer with a lien has "blown" a case, thus reducing its potential settlement/recovery value, that makes it even less likely a another lawyer would want to take over. If very good reasons can be presented to persuade the lawyer to waive, or at least put some reasonable cap on, his lien (such as reasons showing malpractice), that should be the first step.

Turning to the reasons you give here for believing your lawyer "blew" your case, they may or may not be valid reasons, depending on the circumstances. You state he deposed a doctor who gave an opinion that is adverse to your case. If that doctor was the DEFENDANT's retained doctor, your lawyer MUST depose him in order to adequately prepare for trial, as well as to assess settlement value, knowing what's in store if you were to go to trial - and it may even be considered malpractice if he were to forego deposing such doctor. If that doctor was NOT a defense doctor, it would be highly unusual to take such a deposition unless it was for the purpose of making a presentation to the jury in lieu of the doctor taking the stand - in which case the lawyer possibly did make a bad decision.

Regarding your lawyer asking you to take a lowball offer, bear in mind that you don't have to take the offer. You can insist that your lawyer take the case to trial. If he were to withdraw, without you firing him, he is not entitled to any lien. Of course, making a decision on whether to settle or instead go to trial is a decision that must be made very carefully, taking into account the risks involved.

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