How you can avoid a bad lawyer in your Kingston, New York medical malpractice case
Amazingly, few clients actually read the retainer agreement. Pretty unbelievable, right? For me it is. I can't tell you how many times I've seen clients grab a pen to sign a retainer agreement without even glancing through the agreement. This is not a good idea.
When should you refuse to sign a retainer agreement?
Every law firm has its own unique retainer agreement and the agreements vary in content from one law firm to the next. I am going to show you five retainer agreements that you should never sign. These are real retainer agreements that real clients (i.e., you) signed. Warning: Don't try this at home.
Retainer Agreement: "The client may be required at any time to pay all disbursements."
Case expenses in a medical malpractice case often exceed $30,000. If you sign this retainer agreement, your lawyer can force you to pay all of the case expenses, i.e., $30,000 or more, whenever he feels like it. If you are unable to come up with the cash, your lawyer will then have an excuse for abandoning you and your case. DON'T SIGN THIS!
Retainer Agreement: "The client understands that an expert physician must appear in court to testify to malpractice and injuries in malpractice cases and if such a witness is not found, the case will not be able to be tried and will have to be discontinued."
This is another clause that allows your lawyer to abandon you and your case. The lawyer has the right to abandon your case if an expert witness is not found to support your case and testify in court as to malpractice. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! The lawyer should have found a medical expert for your case BEFORE he filed the lawsuit. If your lawyer waits until the eve of trial to find a medical expert, he does not know what he is doing.
Retainer Agreement: "I understand it sometimes takes years before it becomes apparent that an expert cannot be found."
WHY? Why does it take years to find a medical expert to support your case? It should take a week at most to find a medical expert to support your case. If your lawyer needs "years" to find a medical expert to support your case, either your case stinks or your lawyer is clueless.
Retainer Agreement: "You are authorized to discontinue my case against one or more defendants at any time that you decide the case should be dropped against them without notice to me."
Your lawyer can drop your claims against the responsible parties without even telling you? Shouldn't you have the right to be told that your lawyer is dropping your case? Does this make even the slightest sense to anyone? DO NOT SIGN THIS!
Retainer Agreement: "The client understands that the loser of the lawsuit can be held liable for up to $10,000 for each defendant sued if the court finds that the suit against said party was frivolous or to harass or maliciously injure another or without any reasonable basis in fact."
Your lawyer is showing you love with this one. Your lawyer believes so strongly in your case that he is warning you that you might be responsible for money damages for bringing a frivolous lawsuit (i.e., a frivolous lawsuit is one without "any reasonable basis in fact"). It seems as though your lawyer is telling you that your case stinks. DO NOT SIGN THIS!
The lesson for the day
READ THE RETAINER AGREEMENT!! Do not sign the retainer agreement until you understand every word and review it at length with you personal lawyer. If your retainer agreement contains any of the provisions in the five examples, RUN FOR THE DOOR!
After you sign the retainer agreement, make copies and put one original in a safe place. The retainer agreement controls your rights and responsibilities as a client and you must be intimately familiar with this document.
Here's what you can do if you have questions
If you have any questions, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-6882. You can request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, which goes into depth about the mistakes made by injury victims in hiring the wrong malpractice lawyer.