The Truth About Switching Attorneys

Posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 at 3:45 pm    

By: Jessica Zorn

There are two common ways you could end up with a different lawyer handling your case after you hire someone: (1) you may fire your attorney and hire someone new or (2) your attorney may refer your case to a different lawyer or firm.

Here is everything you need to know about navigating those processes, what it means for your civil case, and what’s going on behind the scenes.

Firing Your Attorney

Although you may feel like your civil attorney has total power over your case, you almost always have the power to fire your attorney and hire a new one. You may want to consider switching attorneys if your lawyer does not communicate with you, tells you about deadlines or hearings at the last minute, or if they are unable to explain why your case has not progressed in a long time.
There are a few important considerations when firing your attorney:

  • Call them first. If you are unsatisfied with your lawyer, call them first and see if there is an explanation for your frustrations. The court system is largely outside of an attorney’s control, and it is possible that there is a really good reason for whatever is bothering you. If you can’t get ahold of your lawyer right away, try to email your lawyer or ask to speak to that attorney’s paralegal or legal assistant. Assistants are more available than an attorney who could be scheduled to be in court for weeks at a time.
  • Ask to speak to a senior partner. If your lawyer is an associate in a firm, sometimes a senior partner would be willing to speak to you about how your case is going and why you are upset with your representation. It may be easier, faster and more efficient for you if the partner re-assigns your case to a different associate in the same firm instead of starting completely over with a new firm.
  • If you decide to fire your lawyer, do it in writing. Whether you do it via e-mail or snail mail, keep a copy of the firing letter you send to your attorney. It can be a simple letter stating that you no longer require his or her legal services for your claim or case.
  • Fire your attorney before you hire someone else. There are ethical rules that prevent lawyers from speaking to someone who already has an attorney. Generally, if you’re shopping around for new representation, the new lawyer will ask to see a copy of the letter you sent firing your old attorney. Keep that copy handy when you start looking to hire someone new.
  • Firing an attorney will probably lead to delays in your case. Your new lawyer will need to take some time collecting records and becoming familiar with your case. Be aware that these delays are inevitable – even if they may be worth it in the long run.

Having Your Case Referred

When your case is “referred,” that means your attorney has asked a different lawyer to take over the case. There are many good reasons for a lawyer to hand over a case, and the referral will likely benefit you.

Many civil injury claims have two stages: pre-lawsuit negotiation with the insurance company, and then the lawsuit itself if the parties are unable to settle.

One of the most common reasons for your case to be referred involves attorney expertise in these two areas. There are plenty of civil firms who specialize in negotiation before a lawsuit is ever filed. However, if the insurance company will not settle your claim for a fair number, then a lawsuit needs to be drafted – and your case will be in better hands if it’s being handled by a lawyer with litigation expertise.

On a related note, your case might turn out to be a type of claim that your first lawyer doesn’t normally handle, and a more specialized lawyer needs to work it.

Here are some things to keep in mind if your case is referred to a lawyer you have never met:

  • You will probably not be paying any extra for the new attorney. When your case is referred, that generally means that your old and new attorneys will split the original fees that you had already agreed to pay. You will not be paying for 2 attorneys or a double fee. However, it is always a good idea to verify with your new attorney that your contract with your first lawyer will still be honored.
  • There are usually good reasons for the referral. Call your original lawyer or your new lawyer to ask why your case is being transferred – generally, the change in hands will benefit your claim.
  • Lawyers only refer cases to other attorneys they trust. It can be intimidating to be assigned a new lawyer you’ve never spoken to or met. However, the lawyer you hired sent your case to someone else because he or she trusts them. Do not hesitate to call your original attorney and ask about their relationship with your new attorney, how often they have worked together, etc.
  • Your case may not be significantly delayed because of a referral. When a case is referred, usually the first attorney will send over your entire file to the new attorney. Because both the old and new lawyers are on your side (and they have a pre-existing relationship), the transition can generally be easily made from one lawyer to the next.

Whether you end up changing attorneys by choice or by referral, there are mechanisms in place to make sure your case is in the best hands for the job. Importantly, do not hesitate to contact your attorney (old or new) to ask questions until you feel comfortable with who is working your lawsuit.


Drunk Driving and Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2018 at 2:56 pm    

Alcohol impairment is one of the leading causes of traffic-related deaths. In 2016, nearly 10,500 people were killed in crashes involving an impaired driver.1 Unfortunately, the DUI arrest rate is much lower – just over a million drivers were arrested in 2016 for driving under the influence, a minuscule number compared to the 111 million self-reported incidents of alcohol-impaired driving that same year.2

If you’ve lost a loved one in a DUI crash, you may be wondering what legal action you can take. Depending on the specifics of the case, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death laws allow survivors to pursue consequences for those whose negligence or intentional act of harm caused a loved one’s death. Each state has its own wrongful death statute, so it’s important to know the limitations of the law in your state. For example, in Alabama, a wrongful death claim is like a personal injury claim, except the estate of the deceased person steps in to seek compensation on their behalf.3 Unlike other states, Alabama doesn’t allow family members of the deceased to file the claim – it must be done by a representative of their estate.

How State Laws Affect Damages

Though many DUI crashes result in criminal charges, some do not. If your loved one was killed in a DUI crash and the driver was not charged, you still may be able to file a wrongful death claim in civil court.

State laws also affect how damages are handled. Because a wrongful death case is a civil claim, liability comes in the form of damages, rather than punishment by imprisonment or other penalties that can be decided in a criminal case.

Many states offer compensatory damages, which cover funeral expenses, medical bills and other losses. Alabama’s wrongful death statute allows only for punitive damages, which are designed to:

  • Punish a defendant who’s found negligent
  • Deter similar negligent actions in future

Any damages awarded are paid directly to the deceased person’s heirs.

Timeline for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Each state’s statute of limitations sets a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In Alabama, a case must be filed within two years of the date of the incident. In rare cases, the deadline may be extended. If you miss the window for filing a lawsuit, you could lose your right to a legal remedy.

When a loved one dies in an alcohol-related crash, family members are often left stunned and unsure where to turn for help. Seeking legal advice immediately following the accident is advised, as evidence can be collected and eyewitnesses can be contacted. Memories get fuzzy, damages get repaired and the chance of video or photographic evidence being deleted or lost rises as time passes. Acting quickly is the best way to ensure as much evidence as possible is collected.

Legal Support for Wrongful Death Claims in Birmingham, AL

If you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim, it’s wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can answer any questions you have about your case.

The attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt have represented many families who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents. Our team understands the importance of working quickly to gather evidence that can be used to help us fight for the justice you deserve. We have extensive experience representing drunk driving cases and other wrongful death claims in Alabama.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone getting behind the wheel when they were intoxicated or otherwise acting irresponsibly, call (205) 324-1212 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.

1 https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812450

2 https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

3 https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/wrongful-death-lawsuits-alabama.html


Historic Industrial Accidents Resulting From Corporate Negligence

Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2018 at 5:54 pm    

We like to believe modern workplaces, even in industrial settings that pose inherent risks due to the products being produced, are safe for employees. A lot of progress has been made in recent decades thanks to regulating bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and a plethora of industry-specific entities intended to improve safety for workers. (more…)


What You Need to Know About Riding a Motorcycle in Alabama

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2018 at 4:46 pm    

Riding a motorcycle can be one of the most thrilling ways of getting around town, often providing an unmatched feeling of freedom during an otherwise normal commute. However, since some legislation has recently changed, everyone may not be aware of the current Alabama motorcycle laws and others may have questions about what they’re legally required to have on their person during a ride. If you’re currently a rider or plan to become one soon, here’s what you need to know about riding a motorcycle in the Yellowhammer State so you can stay safe and avoid getting pulled over.

A Change in Alabama Motorcycle Laws

For many years, Alabama was the only state that did not require a specific license or endorsement for operating a motorcycle. It only required the rider have a regular driver’s license and be 16 years of age or older. That law was recently changed. As of May 2015, all Alabama riders must possess a driver’s license with a class M endorsement to operate a motorcycle. To obtain the endorsement, you must either pass the DPS’ motorcycle knowledge exam or complete a motorcycle safety course.

Helmets and Other Legally Required Accessories

An endorsement isn’t the only thing required to ride. According to Alabama law Section 32-12-41, a safety helmet “specifically designed for motorcycle riders and motorcycle passenger use” is legally required when operating a motorcycle. The law also has specifications regarding the exterior shell, padding, chin strap and cradle. Visors, while not required, must be flexible or “of a snap on type” for example. Here is some more information about legally required accessories and regulations, as detailed by AmericanMotorcyclist.com:

Required/Regulated

  • Passenger seat and footrest (if carrying a passenger)
  • Left and right mirrors
  • Compulsory liability insurance
  • Handlebars less than 15 inches above the seat
  • Daytime headlight use

 

Not Required/Regulated

  • Eye protection
  • Noise limits
  • Passenger age restrictions
  • Muffler noise and style
  • Periodic safety inspections
  • Turn signals

 

Riders should also be aware that lane splitting, which refers to driving in between traffic lanes on the center lines, is illegal. However, two bikes may share one lane side by side.

Not Legally Required, But Always Recommended

Unfortunately, motorcycle collisions, especially those involving vehicles, are all too common. There were 74 motorcycle driver fatalities in 2015.1 That same year, motorcyclist deaths accounted for 14 percent of total traffic fatalities nationwide.2 These statistics highlight the importance of utilizing certain safety items and why they’re recommended by riding experts even though they’re not legally required.

  • Eye Protection – A visor, glasses or windshield attached to the front of the bike protects eyes from harmful rocks and dirt that fly toward the face at high speeds. This helps keep eyes both clear and on the road. Sunglasses during the day can protect from debris and bright sunshine. Just remember to remove them at night and switch to clear protection.
  • Footwear – Sturdy, closed-toe footwear covering the entire foot and ankle should always be worn by motorcyclists and passengers while riding. This protects feet from road rash, debris and burns from the scorching hot engine components. Any leather or work boot will provide ample protection. Low-top canvas shoes and sandals should be avoided.
  • Clothing – Like footwear, long sleeves and pant legs are always recommended for protecting limbs from the elements and road rash. Leather works best, but denim or any other thick material will suffice. Try to avoid baggy or loose-fitting clothing, as they may get caught on a tree branch or other roadside hazard.
  • Gloves – Aside from your head, your hands are doing the most work to keep you safe, so you might as well protect them. Thick gloves protect from debris and the elements and help riders maintain their grip during a long ride. Leather gloves are best, but again, any protective material with a gripping surface on the palms and fingers will be more than enough.

In the Worst-Case Scenario, You Will Need Legal Protection

Despite riders’ best efforts and the many laws in place to keep all motorists safe while sharing the road, accidents do happen. In those instances, it’s important you seek experienced legal services from lawyers who will fight for your best interests.

Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP have many years of experience advocating for motorcyclists who were seriously injured in an accident that could have been avoided had another driver acted responsibly. If you or a loved have been injured in a collision and you believe you are entitled to financial compensation, contact Farris, Riley & Pitt by calling 205-324-1212 or visit our website to start your FREE case evaluation today!

1 http://drivesafealabama.org/uploads/files/ALDOT-2015-CrashFactsBook.pdf
2 https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2017-01/Spotlight%20Motorcycle%202016%20H.pdf


How Does the Consumer Product Safety Commission Work?

Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2018 at 7:58 pm    

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was established through the Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972. It is the federal government organization that evaluates consumer products, catalogs and analyzes industry safety studies and consumer complaints, and coordinates recall efforts for unsafe consumer products.1 (more…)


5 Things Your Attorney Forgets To Tell You About Your Personal Injury

Posted on Monday, November 20th, 2017 at 5:00 pm    

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In your initial meeting with an attorney, a lot of ground is covered. You may discuss what happened or how you’ve been affected. Often times, so much needs to be discussed that the basics can be pushed into the background:

  1. The most important thing is that you GET BETTER. Most cases can’t proceed without you getting better first! Getting appropriate medical attention is the cornerstone of your case. As a matter of fact, it is of the upmost importance to us that you experience some relief from pain. Keeping in contact with us regarding your treatment and asking any questions regarding doctors or options you need are important steps in any case. We have helped a lot of client’s find their way through the myriad of treatment options in their areas and will help you as well.
  2. We don’t have a specific timeline for your case. Most cases follow a standard course but how long that course takes varies case to case. The differences in each case cause different timelines. Sometimes cases can settle in pre-litigation; some cases have to be filed and proceed to court. Whichever track your case is on, constant communication with your attorney is very important. Never feel uncomfortable calling your attorney’s office to ask about the status of your case.
  3. We don’t know how much your case will settle for or if it will settle at all. Sadly, we cannot promise that we can bring your claim to a resolution. As a firm dedicated to serving justice, we can promise that we will work hard and fight for you, no matter what the end.
  4. You can never give too much detail. The devil truly is in the details. Often times, while speaking with clients, they may mention things like, “it looked like she was on the phone” or “he was in his work uniform when he got out of the car”. Details like these give the attorney a direction to pursue and can help bring your case to a quicker resolution.
  5. Sometimes your best point of contact is the paralegal. Often, your attorney will be out of the office. If you have trouble getting in touch with him/her, ask to speak with their paralegal. Typically, your call will be returned in less than 24 hours or they can coordinate between you and the attorney.

    A lawsuit can be overwhelming for anyone. That is why it is important to have an attorney and staff that you trust. At the end of the day, it is your life that has been significantly affected by a traumatic event and it is our job to help you put those pieces back together. And with a little bit of communication and a lot of hard work, we can help you get back to normal.

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Bard IVC Filter Update

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017 at 2:45 pm    

Over 1,500 cases filed in Bard IVC Filter MDL in Phoenix, AZ, before Honorable David G. Campbell.  The filters alleged to have caused injury are Bard’s “optional” filters – i.e. those that Bard has represented to be removable after the risk of pulmonary embolism has passed – the Recovery, G2, G2X, Eclipse, Meridian and Denali filters.

The parties are currently working through general and case specific (trial pick or “bellwether” selections) discovery, with the first bellwether case to be tried in the fall of this year.

The MDL plaintiffs are also seeking certification of a medical monitoring class action with the goal of requiring Bard to establish and pay for a protocol to monitor patients who received optional filters that, due to incorporation into the body, cannot be removed despite no longer being needed.

The trial of the first Bard state court case (non-MDL case) since the MDL was created is the Austin v. Bard, et al matter, pending in Broward County, Florida.  The trial is scheduled for March.  The case involves allegations of serious complications from a G2 filter, requiring an open procedure for removal.

The Alabama-based law firm of Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP has experience with IVC filter “>defective medical device cases and all forms of medical malpractice. We help clients nationwide determine if they have a claim against IVC filter manufacturers.

The time you have to protect your rights is limited. Please contact our office to speak with one of our Alabama IVC filter attorneys today at (205) 324-1212.

Don’t Delay Getting Help Another day

You don’t have to suffer after an accident. Contact us today for a FREE consultation. There’s absolutely no fee unless we win.