What Can I Do if My Maryland Injury Lawyer Won't Return My Calls?
If you have hired a personal injury lawyer after an accident, you have the right to regular updates about the progress of your case. But what if your phone calls aren’t being returned? Trollinger Law has advice on what you can do.
Note: Trollinger Law LLC is only eligible to represent cases in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Why is My Lawyer Ignoring Me?
The American Bar Association (ABA) spells out clear rules pertaining to the communication between attorneys and their clients. Under these rules, lawyers must tell their clients promptly about any decision that requires their informed consent. Attorneys should also talk to clients about how best to accomplish the goals they are hoping for. Clients should reasonably be informed about the status of their cases.
Although the ABA clearly lays out guidelines for the communication between attorneys and their clients, there is still always going to be some question about what “promptly” really means. Some reasons that a personal injury lawyer may not call back include:
- There is nothing to report: Personal injury cases have many deadlines, but months can pass between them. If there are no updates, you may not hear from your attorney until there are.
- They are attending to personal issues: Attorneys are people just like everyone else, and they may have something going on in their personal lives that is delaying their communication with you. However, lawyers should also have a backup plan in place in case of an emergency.
- You are not the client: Due to attorney/client privilege, a lawyer cannot talk about a case to anyone except his or her client. If you are calling on behalf of your sibling, parent, or anyone else, the attorney might not return your call.
- They are poor communicators: Unfortunately, some lawyers are simply unresponsive. If you suspect that this is happening with your attorney, you need to address it right away.
What to Do if My Injury Attorney Is Ignoring Me in Maryland?
If your lawyer is not returning your calls, you have several options:
- Try email: If nothing pressing is happening with your case, your attorney may be focusing on matters for his/her other clients. Try emailing your lawyer with your question. Sometimes it’s easier for a lawyer to shoot off a quick email than it is to return a phone call right away.
- Speak to a legal assistant or paralegal: If your lawyer has a support staff, reach out to them for help. You may be able to get the information you’re looking for from the paralegal, or perhaps he/she can speak to the attorney directly about your needs.
- Document your attempts: Keep track of all of your efforts to contact your lawyer, both by phone and e-mail.
- Send a certified letter: The advantage of certified mail is that you will receive a return receipt and electronic confirmation that your letter was received. In the letter, detail all of the times that you tried to contact the attorney. Indicate that if you do not receive a response by a specific and reasonable date, then you will start looking for another lawyer.
- Contact the Maryland Judiciary’s Attorney Grievance Commission: If you have taken the above steps with no success, you can contact the commission for help. The Office of Bar Counsel investigates complaints if there is reason to believe a lawyer has violated the rules of professional conduct.
- Find a new lawyer: Check the agreement you signed with the attorney when you hired him/her. There will most likely be an explanation of your obligations if you choose to terminate the representation.
Keep in mind that there is a three-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims in Maryland. You don’t want to wait too long to find a communicative attorney or you could be at risk of losing compensation altogether.
How Often Should I Hear from My Injury Attorney?
Every lawyer and law firm will handle how they communicate with clients differently. There is no hard and fast rule about how often any attorney should contact you about your case. Communication is a question that you should address during your initial consultation with the law firm.
If there is any update on your case, it is crucial that your lawyer contact you about it. You deserve to know what is happening, and your attorney may also need you to make a decision before the case can proceed.
At a minimum, your lawyer’s office should also contact you on a monthly basis to check in with you during the medical treatment stage of your case. The medical treatment you are receiving and the way your injuries are impacting your life can change, so your attorney needs to know how you’re doing to represent you effectively.
How Often Should I Reach Out to My Personal Injury Lawyer?
Certainly, there are times when your lawyer should call you to provide updates on your case. However, there are also times you should contact your lawyer. This too, will vary depending on the specifics of your case, but you should call your attorney whenever:
- There has been a significant development in your recovery or treatment plan.
- You discover an important detail about your case that you did not know before.
- You have a pressing question about your case.
You will likely have many questions during the course of your personal injury case. Never forget that your attorney’s job is to answer them clearly and in an appropriate timeframe.
Can I Fire My Attorney in Maryland?
Yes. You deserve a lawyer who is responsive and helpful. If that’s not happening, you absolutely have the right to end the representation.
There are several things you should do before firing your lawyer:
- Check your contract and fee arrangement: Depending on the fee agreement, you may owe money to your current lawyer for any work that’s been done on the case already. Your new attorney can help resolve these issues, typically by splitting the fee with your first lawyer at the conclusion of your case.
- Find a new lawyer: Before officially firing your existing attorney, hire a new one. That way, you won’t have a gap in representation and run the risk of having to handle something that pops up by yourself.
- Send a “stop work” letter ending the relationship: Send a letter to the attorney indicating that you are ending the representation. Politely request that he/she forward your case file to your new attorney, and provide the name, address, and contact information for that law firm.
Although it may feel awkward to fire your lawyer, it happens more often than you think. You need to trust your lawyer. It’s that simple.
Hiring the Right Maryland Personal Injury Attorney
Although you can change lawyers throughout your case, it’s not ideal to do so. Try to find the right personal injury attorney from the very beginning, as it will make the entire process much easier. Tips for finding the best lawyer for you include:
- Know where to look: There are many places to find potential attorneys for your case, including referrals from people you know, online lawyer directories, and through an online search.
- Do your research: As you come across lawyers through your search, get details on the ones you think may be right for your case. Read online reviews. Review the websites and bios of attorneys you are interested in. The member directory of the Maryland State Bar Association can be a useful tool during your search.
- Create a list: After you have thoroughly researched a number of different attorneys, narrow your list down to three top contenders.
- Call each attorney: Once you have your shortlist of attorneys, you can then start contacting them for an interview. Personal injury lawyers typically offer free consultations so they can review the facts of the case and determine if the case is a good fit for them. Go to the consultation prepared with a list of questions you have, especially about the attorney’s policy for communicating with clients.
- Make your decision: Carefully consider what you liked about each lawyer you met. Taking notes while you meet with the attorneys can help, as you can compare them when making your decision.
Don’t feel pressured to hire the lawyers you interviewed if none of them felt right. Keep searching. The attorney you need is out there.
Hire a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer Who Cares
Client trust is not something we take lightly at Trollinger Law. Attorney Matt Trollinger understands that you need to feel confident in the work that he does on your behalf. You can rely on our legal team to keep you updated on any progress in your case. We know how important compensation is to you. Securing the best possible results is our priority, too. If you have been hurt and need a dedicated personal injury attorney in Maryland, call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.