Langsam Law LLP

“There is no better advocate in New York, and maybe the universe, to have in your corner.”

The Wrong Attorney Can Cost You Your Case

Posted February 20, 2017

{2 minutes to read} Many people think that once they sign a contract with an attorney, their commitment is written in stone. This is never the case, and for personal injury lawsuits in particular, the claimant will pay the same amount, no matter how many attorneys they hire and fire. Don’t stay with an attorney you’re unhappy with. It could cost you your case.

After more than three dozen years representing victims and families in personal injury cases, I am still surprised to hear how many people stay with attorneys they are unhappy with because they think a change in representation will cost them more money or will reflect poorly on their case. In truth, a plaintiff is entitled to change lawyers as often as they see fit, and where contingency circumstances apply, such as in personal injury, the fee remains a set percentage of the awarded amount, regardless of how many lawyers argue the case. (This is generally one-third of the recovery in personal injury cases and a sliding scale in medical malpractice cases.) This should not be a stress point for the already-suffering party—the attorneys will negotiate among themselves how the contingency fee will be divided, and it will not affect the client’s share of the recovery.

A functional attorney/client match is very important, especially when it comes to personal injury, where emotions run deep. Dissatisfaction can be attributable to a number of factors—perhaps the firm’s protocol is to have clients deal with paralegals, and face-time with attorneys is limited; there may be a language barrier; it may seem that the attorney is giving the case low priority; or perhaps there is a simple clash of personalities. For any of these reasons, it would be advisable to interview other possibilities for representation. My advice: be candid about your issues and your expectations. You have a voice in the matter!

Case Study

A woman whose 6-year-old son was killed by a tow truck was in a situation where she was dissatisfied with her representation. Her case had been dragging on for two years, and she was never able to communicate directly with her attorney because he did not speak Spanish. She was referred to Langsam Law, was able to speak with attorney Elise Langsam directly in her native language, and Langsam Law ended up settling the case for $3 million. Langsam Law negotiated the contingency fee with the original lawyer, without the client having to worry.

Note: Prior results do not guarantee similar results. 

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