Ask Kathryn: What Should I Do If My Personal Injury Attorney Withdraws From My Case?

Just this morning I met with another person with an auto accident / personal injury claim whose lawyer withdrew from his case.  He didn't have a complete copy of his file and the statute of limitations on his case is going to run next week.  Because of the impending deadline and because there was not much information in his file, I declined his case.  I recommended he find another attorney as quickly as possible and I pointed him in the direction of the St. Petersburg Bar Association.  My guess is that he will have a hard time finding a lawyer at this point – although I think he should put all of his efforts into trying to find one.  So what should you do if your personal injury attorney withdraws from your case so that you aren't left in the same boat as this man? 

Here are 5 tips in case your personal injury attorney withdraws from your case:

1. Find out what the statute of limitations is so you know how much time you have in order to settle your claim or file a lawsuit.  Statute of limitations vary both by state and by type of case.  It is important to act quickly because the closer you get to the deadline, the harder it is going to be to find a new attorney; not to mention you don't want to miss the deadline.

2. Schedule a meeting with your former lawyer so you can find out why they withdrewfrom your case.  You may want to ask whether their decision was based upon liability or based upon availability of insurance coverage or whether it was a business decision?  Their reason for withdrawing may not be what you think it is and you may still have a claim so it is important to know why the former lawyer withdrew. 

3. Get a complete copy of your file from your former lawyer – this means more than just the medical records – you should expect to get lots of paperwork including but not limited to the accident report, photos, medical records, correspondence to and from the insurance carriers, witness statements, property damage estimates, disclosures of insurance; and all other correspondence related to your claim.  You should also get paperwork about whether any demands or offers have been made. 

4. Consult with other lawyers about your case; rather than calling a referral service or lawyer that you see on tv, I recommend that you ask your friends and family for names of attorneys they've had good experiences with or call your local bar association for the name of a qualified attorney. 

5. Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer,make sure you get to meet with a lawyer (not a case manager or runner), bring your file with you.  Present your information to the lawyer in as organized as possible manner.  Dress nicely and arrive to your appointment on time, part of this consultation with the new potential lawyer will be the lawyer's evaluation of not only your case, but you – the lawyer will want to size up what kind of a witness you will be for your case, so present yourself in the best light possible.  Tell the potential lawyer "the good, the bad, and the ugly" of your case – chances are if you don't tell the new lawyer the weaknesses of your case at the first meeting, then they'll figure them out and chances are they'll withdraw like your last lawyer.  Honesty is always the best policy and your new lawyer will appreciate that you have been up front about everything.

For more information or a free consultation on your legal issue contact The Law Offices of Charles D. Scott PLLC, your injury law and family law attorneys, at 727-300-4878. http://www.yourstpetelawyers.com

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