If your automobile accident case does not settle as a result of an unfair final offer from the insurance company, will your attorney handle your lawsuit, or ship you off to another firm? Today’s blog addresses this issue.
As a New Port Richey Personal Injury Attorney, I believe it is important that persons seeking to hire an attorney for injuries in an automobile accident understand that they have very important rights as a client. Another way of stating this is that law firms and attorneys have specific legal and ethical obligations in their dealings and representation of a client. Florida’s Rules of Professional Conduct set forth the rights that a personal injury attorney must disclose to a new client whom has been injured in an automobile accident. In fact, a new client must sign and acknowledge that the lawyer has provided a written copy of the Statement of Client’s Rights.
Today’s blog addresses Paragraphs 4 and 5 in the Statement of a Client’s Rights, which states in part as follows:
“Before signing a contingent fee contract with you, a lawyer must advise you whether the lawyer intends to handle your case alone or whether other lawyers will be helping with the case. If your lawyer intends to refer the case to other lawyers, the lawyer should tell you what kind of fee sharing arrangement will be made with the other lawyers. If lawyers from different law firms will represent you, at least one lawyer from each law firm must sign the contingent fee contract…..If your lawyer intends to refer your case to another lawyer or counsel with other lawyers, your lawyer should tell you about that at the beginning.”
Most people would reasonably assume that if an attorney agrees to take his or her case, then that attorney will handle the case to completion. Therefore, if the insurance company’s final offer of settlement is unreasonable, and the auto accident injury claim results in a lawsuit, then the client expects his or her attorney to handle the litigation. However, some law firms are merely “personal injury mills” that do very little litigation. These mills rely on a high volume of cases, and may do no litigation at all. Given the volume of cases handled by these firms, you may not even meet with an attorney during your initial consultation!
Some personal injury mills have an arrangement in place for such cases that do not settle, and the attorney knows well in advance that if a case does not settle, the firm will simply ship out the client to an actual trial attorney. Many times, prospective clients are NOT told this in advance, which violates the ethical obligation to inform a client if his or her case will be sent to another attorney in the event a settlement is not achieved.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident, and you are interviewing an attorney, ask these questions:
1) If my case does not settle, will you continue to be my lawyer? Will you be handling my case, and be the lead attorney at trial?
2) How many cases do you have filed in court right now, and you are the only attorney of record?
And by all means, if you are considering hiring a law firm, and you are not dealing with an attorney during the consultation, you should look elsewhere. You have the right to consult with an ATTORNEY!
At Scott M. McPherson, P.A., if the insurance company does not offer a reasonable amount to fairly compensate you, then I will file your case in court. I will be the one meeting with you at the initial consultation. I will be the one at depositions with you, and I will be the one trying the case in front of a jury. You will not be “shipped off” to another attorney or law firm. You, as the client, have the right to know this about your attorney!