Can my lawyer lean my records?
My husband has a Traumatic Brain injury caused by a
car accident. The other driver took my husbands right
of way. I am not happy about the way our present
lawyer is not answering our questions. We have to pull
teeth just to find out what we have in medical records
My husband said maybe we should hire another attorney
to work in tandom just to make sure the work is being
done. At mention of this someone in our attorneys office told me that if we did this our attorney would
file a lean on the records. Can he do this? Don't we
have the right to another attorney if we feel ours is
not taking care of our interests? Do the medical
records belong to them? or to my husband?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Can my lawyer lean my records?
Remember that YOU are the client, the records are yours, and your attorney works for you. If you are not satisfied with the services you receive, you may terminate that relationship at your pleasure. Your attorney has an ethical obligation to immediately surrender your complete file, including all medical records, to either you or your new attorney, subject only to his entitlement to make a copy of the file for his own records.
The "lien" your attorney references actually would take the form of an attorneys' lien on the settlement or judgment that you or your new counsel obtain. In other words, a discharged attorney typically does have the right to be compensated for the reasonable value of his time and services expended on a case (called "quantum meruit"), as well as reimbursement for advanced expenses. Assuming you have a contingency based fee agreement, your new attorney and your old attorney would, at the end of the day, need to quantify their respective "investment" in your case and allocate the contigency fee between them based on a lodestar division of their respective time. This does not in any way effect your bottom line recovery, so while you should understand the process, you certainly should not have any concerns with the process.
Bottom line, if your relationship with your lawyer has disintegrated to the point that his firm is now threatening to file a lien, you ought to look around for someone new. Retaining an attorney, like choosing a doctor, is an important decision. There are many outstanding and highly successful firms, all with philosophies and personalities as unique as the attorneys who work for them. You need to choose one that is right for you, keeping in mind that any successful case finds its roots in a harmonious and trusting relationship between the client and the attorney.
Very truly yours, Peter