Your Personal Injury Attorney is Arrested – What Happens to Your Case?
You have a car accident and you are injured. You hire an attorney. He sends you to a doctor or a clinic. You get treatment. You follow all the instructions and make your appointments. Your case is developing, and you are taking the proper steps as needed and directed by your attorney. You feel comfortable with the care and attentiveness you are receiving although the circumstances can be stressful. Then it happens. You see the news and your personal injury attorney was arrested. You didn’t do anything wrong or illegal. But what about your personal injury case? What should you do now?
To begin with, we are all entitled to the presumption of innocence. If your lawyer was arrested, he or she is also constitutionally protected by the presumption of innocence until a jury decides otherwise or a guilty plea is entered. But while that all sounds correct, you as a personal injury client have other concerns. Your case could have been progressing in the proper direction and now you may feel lost with even more questions than you had previously. Your case is likely the only one you have ever had, and you deserve full, fair and complete compensation. The question is whether that is possible when your personal injury lawyer was arrested?
Once the attorney is arrested, bond will likely be posted. After the lawyer is released, he or she will formally inform the Florida Bar of the arrest, the charges and the plea (usually not guilty). Assuming the criminal judge did not place any restrictions on the defendant lawyer in terms of the practice of law, the attorney can return to work pending the resolution of the criminal charges.
Even as the criminal charges are pending, the Florida Bar may step in to seek an emergency suspension of the attorney usually because there is a significant risk of ongoing harm. This often comes up where there are financial crimes, or the lawyer cannot produce complete records for all business accounts including trust accounts. Even if the criminal charges are dismissed, the matters with the Florida Bar may continue until resolved.
If the lawyer makes a plea deal or is convicted at trial, then the Florida Bar moves for disbarment with the Florida Supreme Court. The attorney can request a disciplinary resignation wherein the lawyer surrenders the license to practice law in lieu of disciplinary action and further agrees to wait for at least 5 years before reapplying to the Florida Bar.What Should You Do?
As harsh as it sounds, you need to look out for your own best interests. Whether your personal injury attorney is innocent or guilty, you still need to put yourself in the best position to make a full recovery in your personal injury claim.
What options do you have? The first and easiest option would be if your lawyer is a member of a law firm with multiple attorneys, then you could request that your case be transferred to another lawyer in the firm. If that is not an option, then you should consider consulting with the best personal injury lawyer that you can find. You are still the client and you can fire your attorney if you believe that is in your best interests.
You can explain the circumstances to the lawyers you interview and hopefully, you will find the right personal injury lawyer to help you in your claim. If another lawyer agrees to take over your case, they will help you close out your relationship with your prior attorney with a termination letter. The new lawyer will then request your file and proceed forward with your case.
If you have any questions or concerns about your personal injury case in Miami, Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach, our Miami personal injury lawyers at Wolfson & Leon offer free and confidential consultations. Just call us at (305) 285-1115 and let us help you.