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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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I have an attorney, Workers comp. My case was settled but

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I have an attorney, Workers comp. My case was settled but yet to be finalized. We were waiting on a MSA, finally my attorney told Comp. (SCIF) just to settle and give me an advance and pay him his fees until they get the MSA (Medicare set aside). That was done. Two monnths later my attorney retired and the firm brought in another attorney to take over his cases. This was in Jan. of 2011. Finally comp. got the MSA. So I ask this new attorney (after being allowed to speak with him after a year of phone calls with no reponse, now what do we need to do, I want my medical sold and I want a lump sum payment, Which Comp. had already asked me if I wanted to do this. He kept giving me the run around and finally 4 months ago he told me that I need to sign 2 papers so he could get things going, I just today called to get an update on when I would get these papers, mind you I have been calling and calling for the last 3 months to get these papers he was supposed to send me 4 months ago. The Paralegal told me that the attorney just quit and that they were bringing in another attorney. My questions are: 1) Can I sue this firm for non performance and get a refund of some of the $100k they have already been paid? 2) Can I fire them and get this case finalized myself? 3) do I need to hire another attorney? Thank You, Jeffrey xxxx

A law firm that has decided to represent you has to handle your case using diligence, no matter what internal hirings and firings may be going on. In other words, they have to make sure their attorneys are handling your case diligently.

That being said, MSA's can take many months to complete, and this is outside the control of the attorney on your case. While there has been a delay in your case, the question remains whether you have any damages because of it. Have your attorneys breached their contract with you? By not keeping you updated and not assigning an attorney to work diligently on your case, you have an argument that yes they have. However, a lawsuit against a law firm for return of a fee is much less likely to be successful where the attorneys have in fact performed services and obtained the settlement agreement (but have failed to get the settlement funded and you paid). Rather, you may be more successful in suing the attorneys for malpractice.

That being said, if you fire them now, what would happen to the settlement agreement? Can you finalize yourself? Possibly, but this depends in great amount on whether or not you have all the required paperwork needed. The settlement agreement which was awaiting the MSA is a document which is often very lengthy and complicated. So, proceeding without an attorney is probably not a good idea.

A person in your situation might try filing a grievance with the California State Bar complaining about these lawyers and see if this would put some fire under your lawyers to get the job done. Firing them now and either attempting to do it yourself (which will be very difficult) or getting a new attorney (which will cost you more in the end) will likely delay the funding of the settlement even further.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
If after getting the completed MSA from comp, do you have any guess how much time it should take to get the settlement funded? Completed?
In my experience, the attorney should have had the settlement funded within 1-2 months of the MSA report. However, whether this rises to the level of legal malpractice is another question. Sitting on the report and not working your case for 6 months or longer is neglect in my opinion.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your help and opinions, I really appreciate it.
Good Luck, again I'm sorry you had this experience with this law firm. Clients in your situation should be treated better.
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