Has it been a while since you heard from your attorney? Are they not returning your calls or providing you with updates? Does it seem like there is no progress being made on your case and you’ve been left entirely in the dark?
There is nothing more frustrating than when the attorney who seemed so nice and attentive during your initial consultation suddenly falls of the grid. Sure, the first meeting was great – you met, discussed your accident, talked about legal strategies and your rights as an injured victim – but now, nothing. What is going on?
If it seems like your attorney is not responding or actively ignoring you, here are a few things to consider.
Is My Attorney Required to Provide Case Updates?
Communication is an integral part of the client-attorney relationship and is absolutely necessary if you hope to achieve maximum compensation in your case. In fact, communication is so important that the American Bar Association includes it as one of the first entries in its Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.4:
(a) A lawyer shall:
(1) Promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), is required by these Rules;
(2) Reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;
(3) Keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
(4) Promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
(5) Consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
While the language of the rule may seem straightforward, there is some nuance. For example, an attorney’s idea of what is “prompt” or “reasonable” may not be the same as a client’s. With that, here are some of the most common reasons your attorney may not be responding or is communicating less frequently than usual.
Why is My Attorney Not Communicating with Me?
- There are no upcoming deadlines on your case. Personal injury cases have firm deadlines that must be met in order for your case to even be considered; however, oftentimes these deadlines can be set months apart. Your attorney may be waiting until a deadline is closer to request documents or answer interrogatories.
- There are no updates to report. Personal injury cases take time and can be slow going in the early stages. Just as your attorney has deadlines, so does the other side of the docket. Your attorney may be waiting for insurers to file necessary paperwork meaning there may not necessarily be any updates to offer you. They may also be working to receive records relevant to your case. It may seem to the client that their case is not moving forward, but this is just the nature of personal injury litigation.
- Your attorney is handling other cases on their docket. Depending on the size of a firm and the number of attorneys they have available, your attorney may have a very large docket with dozens of active personal injury cases. As such, they may be attending to cases that have upcoming deadlines before re-focusing their attention on your claim.
- You are not the actual client. Always consider who the victim of the accident was and who signed the contingency fee agreement. If it was your mother, your father, or another relative, then technically you are not the attorney’s client and they cannot share case updates due to attorney-client privilege.
- You have not been taking their advice. This can be tough to hear, but if you are not heeding the advice of your attorney, they may wish to handle your case away from you. Remember, your attorney has the best interest of your case in mind and will do what is necessary to protect your claim. If you are constantly challenging or refusing to follow your attorney’s recommendations, they may be less likely to explain the progress they are making on your case to you.
- There’s bad news your attorney doesn’t want to deliver. If your attorney is not experienced or efficient, they may have missed a deadline or made another mistake and are unwilling to confess their error. There could also be some bad news that is entirely outside the attorney’s control. Still, a good attorney should always be willing to deliver any news, good or bad, to their clients.
What to Do if Your Attorney Does Not Respond Promptly
IF you have called your attorney, left messages, sent emails, and have not heard a response, the best course of action is to send a certified letter to his or her office questioning the failure to communicate and informing them you are prepared to find a new lawyer if the situation does not improve.
Certified mail is a service provided by the United States Postal Service which provides the sender with a mailing receipt and electronic verification that the letter was delivered. It is commonly used by law firms as proof that a parcel, document, or article has been delivered, and your attorney will understand that they will not be able to pretend that they did not get your letter.
At this point, your attorney will likely respond by either being more communicative or saying that you are free to find new representation. If you and your attorney agree to continue your case together, you should also work out some basic communication protocols to prevent future issues. If you cannot, pay any outstanding bills, pick up your file, and find an attorney more willing to work with you.
Done with Your Current Attorney? Call Thomas J. Henry Law
If you are fed up with your attorney not responding and do not feel they have your best interests in mind, consider contacting Thomas J. Henry Law. At our firm, client satisfaction is paramount. We have built a team of more than 200 experienced attorneys with hundreds of supporting staff members in order to ensure that there is always someone available to update you on your personal injury case.
If you become our client, we will take immediate action to ensure your case is moving forward ahead of any deadlines or statutes of limitation. If you are unable to travel to our offices to discuss your claim, we can send an attorney directly to you.