EP05 S04: What Can I Do If My Lawyer Never Calls Me Back?
What Can I Do If My Lawyer Never Calls Me Back ?
This Trial Stories episode answers common questions such as: What can I do if my lawyer does not return my phone calls? break down in client & lawyer communication How can I hire a new lawyer? How can I change my lawyer? How will my lawyers get paid? Will I owe more money if I have more than one lawyer? How is the legal fee paid? Why is it important to communicate with my attorney? What is a consent to change attorney aka substitution of attorney? Who decides how much my lawyer gets paid? and many more
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I wanted to just briefly talk about one of the things that we encounter often with our clients in the litigation process. And, actually, the idea came from another video that we had done last year in 2019, where we posted a video where we talked about the value of a lawsuit. The value of how much you can get, depending on your injury after, let’s say, a car accident. And we said if you have soft tissue treatment, you might be entitled to 20,000. If you have a certain procedure such as surgery on your back, it might be up to a hundred or 200,000. If you have a full-blown surgery, such as a spinal fusion, that number could jump all the way to a million or more. And so, we got to over 70 comments and I think 50,000 views. And we thank everyone for that and we’re happy to respond to comments.
But one of the common comments that we would be getting is fact-specific. So, somebody would say, “Well, I have a case. And this so-and-so happened, and how much am I going to get?” And I was thinking to myself, “Well, why are they asking me this?” I’m happy to answer, but why aren’t they asking their lawyer? And I think the reason is that a lot of people are complaining that even though they try to reach their lawyer, even though they call, even though the email, they text message, whatever method of communication, the lawyers just don’t get back to them. So, they’re forced to go out there on YouTube or other platforms and search for Google and start searching for answers to their questions. And a lot of people don’t understand their rights, and they think that if they hired a lawyer, they’re married to that lawyer and they can’t leave.
So, I just wanted to explain that, number one, lawyers should be speaking to their clients. Because, if there’s a breakdown in communication between the lawyer and the client, that essentially means that the lawyer is not effectively representing your interests. Because he doesn’t know what’s happening with you. He doesn’t know what your injury is, how the injury has affected your life, what doctors you’re seeing. So, there has to be that continuous communication, even if it’s once every 60 days or once every 90 days. But there’s got to be some kind of communication, and it’s got to be a two-way street between the lawyer or the paralegal. But the more communication, the better.
And, number two is, at least in New York, a client has an absolute right to hire a lawyer of their choice. And if the lawyer has abandoned them and is not responding to their questions. Well, then that client can go out and get another lawyer. And the client doesn’t suffer any kind of penalty or anything. Because, basically, the first lawyer still gets paid for the work that they did up until the point that they were terminated. And then, the new lawyer gets paid from that point forward. And if the lawyers can agree between themselves, that a judge will step in and do a hearing and determine each lawyer’s share of the work.
But the client still gets their share of the legal fee. And that’s important because a lot of people think if they have more than one lawyer, they’ll have to pay more of a legal fee. So, for example, if there’s a car crash and the insurance company says, “We have a hundred thousand dollars policy, we’re going to tender a hundred thousand to get rid of this case.” And, let’s say, one client has one lawyer. He gets, let’s say, 70,000. Because the lawyer takes a third. The client gets 70,000.
Now, if there’s another client, client B, and that client, let’s say, has 10 lawyers, he’s really not happy. He goes from one lawyer to another, to another. Well, the same thing happens. The client still gets 70,000 out of the hundred. It’s now just that those 10 lawyers have to split the 30,000. That’s the pot, and then the judge will step in and say, “Well, lawyer A gets 5,000, lawyer B gets 10,000, lawyer C gets 15,000.” However, they do it, up to 30,000 is the entire legal fee. Whether it’s one lawyer or it’s a hundred lawyers, they just all split that 30,000. But it doesn’t affect the client.
And that’s important for people to know because if there are situations out there where a lawyer has abandoned the client, they’re not responding to phone calls, emails, then that client has the right to get another lawyer who’s going to be more cooperative. And the client won’t be penalized in any way. So, I hope this helps. This is just a little bit of information on the entire litigation process, how it works, and what your rights are. Okay. A happy and healthy 2020 to everyone out there.