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Lawyer closed up shop and dropping me as client, but refusing to release claims?


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#1 savannahsmiles0801

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:42 PM

Personal Injury case in Texas. Statute of limitations is up Feb 2013. I was released from doctor October 2011, but my attorney's paralegal (my mother) just started on my case a month ago. Right before Thanksgiving, she told me that I need to find a new attorney as her boss got hired working for the state and has closed his practice. In looking for another attorney, I found several that would love to take the case, but not without my current attorney releasing claims for any money. My current attorney refuses to go to court for my case but also refuses to release any claims so that I can hire a new attorney. (Case is in negotiations and my mother is the only one who has done any work on the case.) What do I do now? This is such a betrayal at the last minute. I feel like I've been railroaded and by someone I know! Is this a breach of contract issue? Legal Malpractice?

#2 LegalwriterOne

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:05 AM

You haven't lost anything yet. The attorney is entitled to a part of the recovery that covers the work already done by him OR his staff, i.e. your mom. HE'S paying her so what she does/did is part of his practice and ultimately his responsibilty. He doesn't have to waive his right to a part of the recovery and he hasn't done anything wrong. You only have to file within the statute of limitations and that's not necessary yet since, as you indicated, there are negotiations going on. Since he is taking a government job, he cannot continue to represent you and is obligated to make sure you are notified of your need to find new counsel.

#3 Guest_FindLaw_Amir_*

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 11:17 AM

I agree with the previous poster, you may want to find a new local Texas Personal Injury Lawyer to address your claim.

#4 savannahsmiles0801

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:50 AM

I agree with the previous poster, you may want to find a new local Texas Personal Injury Lawyer to address your claim.


Thank you for your comments. I assume, then, that I'm just out of luck and will not have an attorney to complete my case as I've tried to hire another attorney but none will take the case unless my current attorney signs off on a claim for any funds. Ive talked to half a dozen and they all say the same thing. I do not have a problem with him claiming expenses for work my mom did (which has been a few phone calls and faxes as I traveled and took my own pictures at my own expense, got all of my own medical records, etc., etc. He never even paid for the narrative from my doctor.) but what the other attorneys won't accept is his claim for 33 1/3% of any amount awarded, which is what his lien is. My medical bills are $21,000 so far (I went back to the doctor last week for more problems) and the offer the company won't move from is $18,000 as they already know my attorney is working for the state and that my MOM was doing the negotiations- not the attorney. My mom told me she knows I'd get more with another attorney and my current attorney wants a share of that, too. Negotiations are NOT still happening as she is no longer working on my case (and hasn't been) as she works under him, for the state. He took the job December 1 and my mom got hired on December 12. Our contract says he's supposed to give me a written 30 day notice when he will no longer represent me, but I still haven't received that either.

So instead of referring me to other attorneys that won't take my case, please just let me know if I'm totally screwed or not. Thanks and I hope you all had a great holiday!!

#5 Fallen

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 12:49 PM

It was a bad idea to use your mom's employer for this, let alone have your mother be the one doing "negotiating" with the would-be defendant (or insurance company?). Anyway, low-balling below the cost of medical expenses incurred thus far isn't a weird thing ... as your mother should be able to tell you.

The attorney is free to expect payment for time he and your mom put in at the (reasonable) hourly rate when they drop a contingency case. While from your perspective he's done nothing, I wouldn't presume he spent no time pondering, reviewing, discussing with your mother, etc. That's still billable time. Question is how much all that is worth. He's not entitled to expect 33.33% of what you get unless that just so happens to equal out to what the reasonable value of the time spent on your case happened to be. It's not proper for him to dig in his heels and not come up with a figure that he expects to receive regardless (win, lose or draw). Personally, I'd tell him that you'll have nothing to lose by filing a complaint with the state bar if he's being a jerk and he knows damn well that you'll have a hard time finding another attorney unless this is hammered out.

I'd be sending the dude a letter advising that you want to see a breakdown for time he and your mom have on the case. It may be that other attorneys are overstating how they'd "love" to take your case, 'cause they evidently aren't willing to deal with the hassle of communicating with him and clearing this up.

Worst-case scenario, you file a lawsuit against the party who injured you on your own and fight with the lawyer down the road about how much he gets.

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)


#6 adjusterjack

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 01:55 PM

So instead of referring me to other attorneys that won't take my case, please just let me know if I'm totally screwed or not. Thanks and I hope you all had a great holiday!!


I suggest you immediately file a complaint with the State Bar of Texas.

http://texasbar.com/...ContentID=11003

I agree that he's not likely entitled to the full 1/3 but he is entitled to something, maybe even several thousands of dollars for the time he's already spent.

He's not entitled to hold your claim hostage. He can't have it both ways. He can't insist on the full 1/3 and not work the case either.

However, it's possible that you are wanting him to release you without paying him anything.

Is that it?

Are you willing to pay him cash to settle up your account?

Have you asked him how much money it will take to get the release?

What did he say?

If you can't come to a satisfactory conclusion with him then you are very likely stuck unless the State Bar puts enough pressure on him.

Warning: Legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here are simplified and might not fully explain the ramifications of your particular issue. I am not a lawyer. I do not give legal advice. I make comments based on my knowledge and experience. I guarantee nothing. If you act on my comments without the advice of an attorney, you do so at your own risk.





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