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Ryan's Legal Blog

What To Do When A Client Disappears On You

How to handle the situation when you cannot locate a client

Throughout my years of practice, it seems like every year I have a handful of clients that just up and disappear. The phone number is disconnected. The mail gets returned to sender. And thus, the file sits. Even though one of the first things that I tell all of my clients is to notify me if they move, change their phone number or plan on leaving town for an extended period of time, some of them just vanish. People, don’t do that!!

Personal injury claims in Illinois have a two year statute of limitations. This means that either your case must be settled or filed in Court within two years from the date of your accident. If you are not around, and not communicating with me, you cannot sign a release to accept a settlement. You also cannot appear for a deposition or arbitration hearing or trial. There is only so much work that an attorney can do without the client being present in some form. As an attorney, it is most important that your file is well documented in these situations so that if and when the client ever surfaces, you can show him or her that you did everything that you possibly could have done to track that person down. Log all of the phone calls that you make. Save mail that came back returned to sender. 

For the most part, this does not happen too often. Most clients are interested in receiving their proceeds from the settlement of a case and thus stay in touch with their attorney. On the flipside of things, I find that it is equally as important for the attorney not to disappear as well. Be available to your clients. Be accessible to your clients. Return phone calls in a timely manner. As attorneys we are hired to do a job for our clients and it is very important to be service oriented. 
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Law Office of Ryan M. Rosenthal
Formerly:
The Law Offices of Richard S. Sennett.
Practicing Law For Over 60 Years

Ryan M. Rosenthal - Partner
Main Office:
500 Skokie Boulevard
Suite 150
Northbrook, Illinois 60062
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Chicago, Illinois

Telephone: 847.412.0333
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