In Florida, to prevail on a legal malpractice claim, a plaintiff has to show that there was an attorney-client relationship between the client and the lawyer and a breach of duty to provide skillful and competent representation, also known as negligence, causation and damages.
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When you have a bad lawyer
Have you hired an attorney who isn't really helping you?
While most attorneys are competent, there are always a few bad apples. Here are some major warning signs:
- Have you hired an attorney who doesn't return calls or emails?
- Is your personal injury lawyer charging fees up front?
- Is your lawyer missing deadlines or making mistakes?
- Does your lawyer forget the facts of your case?
- Do you question your attorney's honesty or legal strategies?
These are common complaints we hear every day at Accident Data Center as we interact with accident victims. It is a sad fact that people only learn about a bad lawyer after they have already hired one.
Each state has ethical laws that bind lawyers. Typically, these rules require lawyers to:
represent their clients with undivided loyalty;
keep their clients' confidences;
represent their clients competently;
represent their clients within the bounds of the law, and;
put their clients' interests ahead of their own.
What should you do if you have hired an attorney who isn't helping you?
Fortunately, you can take immediate action to fix the situation. If your attorney isn't responding to your emails or calls, send a polite but firm letter stating your concerns. Don't threaten to file a malpractice lawsuit or complain to the bar association; such threats will probably make your attorney defensive, not attentive to your issues. If you are concerned that your case is not being worked on, get your case file. You can read it in your lawyer's office or ask your lawyer to send you copies of everything. The file should include all correspondence and everything filed with the court or recorded with any government agency.
If you decide that you can no longer work with your lawyer, fire that lawyer and find someone new.
If your efforts to improve your attorney's performance fail, many people will search for a new attorney to work with. When a new lawyer is found, that new lawyer will send a letter of representation to the old lawyer, essentially firing them. At that point, any costs associated with your claim, which are often costs related to obtaining medical records, filing documents with the court, and hiring court reporters for depositions, will need to be paid to the old attorney. Sometimes the new attorney will cover those costs until your claim is settled, and sometimes your new attorney will negotiate with the old one to pay the costs when your claim is settled. There should be no legal fees to pay, since personal injury attorneys don't get paid for their legal work until the claim is settled or a verdict is reached.
How can you find an experienced and competent personal injury attorney?
It is difficult to simply look at an advertisement and know if an attorney is competent. They all look good on paper. So Accident Data Center has created a network of exceptional personal injury attorneys across the nation, ones who we ourselves would work with after an injury accident.
Do you want to learn more about finding an experienced injury attorney to help you?
Contact Accident Data Center to learn more about our network of injury lawyers who have helped injured people recover financially from a serious accident. Since personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, there are no initial costs to consult with one. They get paid at the time the settlement or verdict is reached, so there is no downside to speaking with an attorney to learn about your legal rights and options.
It takes a lot of knowledge of the loopholes insurance companies will use to try to get out of paying on claims. To get the maximum settlement, you need someone who can outsmart these corporations' teams of lawyers. However, not all lawyers are equipped to give you the best legal advice. In this post, Bellingham, Washington personal injury attorney Bill Coats writes about the importance of choosing a lawyer for your personal injury case who specializes in those types of cases.
Not every attorney is well equipped to negotiate top settlements for their clients. Some have never even set foot inside a courtroom! You'll want the best representation for your case, so here are two things an injured person should look for in a personal injury lawyer.