Hi, this is Stuart Talley. I am the partner here responsible for the DePuy Pinnacle litigation at our firm. The reason I am doing this video is to answer a question many people have asked us over the years.
We get calls many times from people who have cases on file with other lawyers who are seeking information about the litigation, and about what is going on with their case. It seems that a common problem is people are not getting information about the case, or about the litigation, from their lawyers. We hear people voicing their concern that they’re not able to contact their lawyer. So, I wanted to give some advice on how to deal with that kind of situation.
The first option you should consider is when you call your attorney’s office it’s important that you ask to speak with the attorney directly. Many times paralegals, assistants, or secretaries may not have the kind of in-depth knowledge that you need about your case or about the litigation; ask to speak directly to your attorney. If he or she is not available, ask for their email address. Send them an email. That’s often a very good way to get in touch with your attorney especially on that’s very busy and is often out of the office.
The other option is asking for your attorney’s cell phone number. At my firm, we give all our clients my personal cell phone number and they can reach me when I am traveling or anytime. If you ask for your attorney’s cell phone number at the beginning of the case, they should give it to you. They should be accessible.
If phone calls and emails don’t work, you should send a letter to your attorney explaining that you are not happy with the communication, with the information that’s provided, and you would like more regular updates. Letters almost always get responded to.
Now, if you’ve tried the former suggestions and you’re still not getting a response or getting adequate information, the last resort is that you are always free to fire your attorney. The law in almost every state gives clients the absolute right to change attorneys at any time. If you are not getting information from your attorney and they’re not responding to your inquiries adequately, you can send them a letter indicating you are going to retain a new attorney. Now, almost all states have laws that give clients the absolute right to change attorneys.
Typically, the way it works with fees is that, if you’re on a contingency fee agreement, the new attorney will almost always match the fee agreement of your previous attorney. So, if your previous attorney was charging 40%, the new attorney will charge 40%. This does not mean you have to pay 80%. The laws in almost every state are that if someone changes attorneys the client will not have to pay more in fees. So, the fee will remain the same. The fee will then be divided among your old attorney and new attorney. It will be divided based on the amount of work that each attorney contributed to your case.
If you change attorneys early on in the litigation, and the new attorney takes your case, and works it up and gets it ready for trial (or settlement), that attorney will usually get most of the 40% fee. Conversely, if you change attorneys at the last minute, right before you go to trial, your previous attorney will get most of the fee. It is important to know it will not cost you anything extra. As the client, you have a right to change attorneys. Even if the attorney puts something in their contract that says, "you’re going to have to pay me a fee even if you fire me", this is not valid to make you pay more than the agreed-upon percentage.
This is my advice to people who call me and are concerned about their attorneys not responding to them. If you have any other questions or concerns, or you want some more advice on what you can do, feel free to give us a call.
Stay tuned. Opening statements started this morning. We will have more updates soon.