How to Fire Your Personal Injury Attorney

How to Fire Your Personal Injury Attorney

December 7, 2022

All legal matters can be stressful for the clients involved, but personal injury cases are especially overwhelming. If you’ve suffered an injury, you need to focus your efforts on making a successful recovery. Working with a competent, trustworthy attorney is vital for your own well-being. You should be able to count on your lawyer to handle the legal proceedings so that you can direct your energy toward your health.

Unfortunately, not all attorneys give their clients the care and attention needed to achieve a successful outcome. If you’re concerned that your lawyer isn’t the right person to handle your case, you might be considering firing them. You have the right to replace your legal representation at any time and for any reason. Although finding a new lawyer in the middle of your case might be stressful, it’s sometimes the best option for all of the parties involved.

Before you hire a new lawyer, you should understand the common reasons for firing an attorney and what you can expect from the process. Here’s everything you need to know about replacing your personal injury attorney:

Before you hire a new lawyer, you should understand the common reasons for firing an attorney and what you can expect from the process. Here’s everything you need to know about replacing your personal injury attorney:

Why Would Someone Fire a Personal Injury Law Firm?

If you’re thinking about firing your lawyer, you should carefully consider your reasoning. While there are plenty of reasons why seeking new representation is a wise choice, it’s not a decision to take lightly. Some clients, for instance, want to fire their attorney because they’re not receiving favorable results in court. However, if your lawyer is doing everything in their power to assist your case, replacing them might not get you better results.

A client should consider firing their attorney if they feel as if the lawyer is not handling the case as effectively as another firm would. The following are three of the most common reasons that clients replace their legal representation:

Communication Issues

Trust is the most important factor in the attorney-client relationship. You’re relying on your lawyer to handle a major case that has a significant impact on your life. You need to trust that your lawyer will communicate with you clearly and honestly.

An attorney has a responsibility to explain important matters to their client and make sure their client is always up-to-date on recent developments in the case. Poor communication or lack of communication puts unnecessary stress on the client. You should never feel like you’re in the dark or like you’re playing catch-up on your own legal case.

Also, you should be confident that your lawyer truly listens to you and takes note of your concerns. If you feel like your lawyer brushes off your questions, it might be time to look for new representation.

Incompetence

Clients sometimes look for a new injury attorney when they’re concerned that their lawyer is not competent enough to handle their case. You might feel like your lawyer isn’t paying enough attention to the case, or you may worry if they appear disorganized or scatterbrained. Your attorney should not forget important details regarding your situation or neglect to follow up as promised.

You should also consider firing your lawyer if they do something that puts your case in jeopardy or if they recommend something that makes you uncomfortable. People sometimes ignore their own concerns because they want to defer to their attorney as the expert. However, it’s always important to listen to your gut instincts.

If you’re concerned about unethical or unprofessional behavior from your lawyer, you should report them to the State Bar Association. Attorneys are held to a strict code of conduct for the sake of their clients. Any unethical or illegal behavior must be reported so that the lawyer does not continue to create the same challenges for others.

Fees

Personal injury attorneys typically work under contingency, which means they’ll receive a percentage of what you’re awarded. They won’t receive payment until you do, and you won’t have to pay them at all if you lose your case.

Some attorneys do charge up-front fees, though. If you’re struggling to keep up with your legal expenses or you feel like your attorney is charging too much, you might consider replacing them with a lawyer who uses the contingency structure. Keep in mind that you may still be responsible for paying some of the lawyer’s fees if you fire them. Read through your contract carefully so that you know what to expect for payment.

When Is the Best Time to Fire a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you’re certain that you need to fire your attorney, you should follow through with your decision as soon as possible. The earlier you make the transition, the more time your new attorney will have to familiarize themselves with the case. Replacing your lawyer early in the process also ensures that you have plenty of time to get to know your new attorney. Trust is key in the attorney-client relationship, so you need to allow some time to establish trust with your lawyer as your case unfolds.

It’s never too late to replace your representation, though. You always have the option of hiring a new lawyer. Even if you’re only a few days out from your court case, you could decide to fire your attorney.

If possible, consult with a new attorney before firing your current one. Explain your case and why you’re considering replacing your lawyer, and ask their opinion on what steps you should take. Once you’re completely certain that you’re going to end your relationship with your current attorney, you can officially hire the new one. Having your new lawyer formally on the case as you go through the transition can be very helpful.

How to Fire a Personal Injury Attorney

Firing your lawyer can feel uncomfortable, especially if you struggle with confrontation. Remember how important it is to work with a lawyer you trust, and consider how much is at stake with your case.

Before you contact your lawyer, read through your contract carefully. It may include a provision that explains the procedure for ending the professional relationship. If so, do your best to follow those steps.

It’s typically better to inform your lawyer of your decision in writing rather than through verbal communication. In most cases, the best way to fire a lawyer is to send a formal letter by mail. Provide contact information for your new attorney, and request that the team send all case files and other paperwork to your new representation. If the case is pending before the court, you should also notify the court of the change.

Hiring or Transferring a Case to a New Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve already hired a new lawyer when you fire your current one, you can request that your current lawyer send all relevant information to your new representation. Your new attorney may also contact your previous lawyer directly to receive documents and details on the case. You can ask both legal teams how they would prefer to proceed with the transfer.

Your new lawyer should receive all written documentation that your previous attorney has on the case. They may need additional information from you to understand the situation fully, though. You should expect to take some extra time to meet with your new attorney as they gather everything they need.

What Does “Substitution of Attorney” Mean?

Substitution of Attorney is a client’s legal right to change their representation before the court. If your case is pending before the court, your previous and new attorneys will likely have to sign paperwork with the court clerk. You’ll also have to send a notification to the opposing party’s legal team.

Attorneys can request substitution under certain conditions, too. For example, if their client refuses to pay required fees or doesn’t cooperate with the legal process, a lawyer could end the professional relationship.

Does Firing an Attorney Cost Me Anything?

Replacing an attorney doesn’t typically result in extra fees. In most cases, clients only pay one fee, and the amount is split between the two lawyers. However, if you paid your lawyer a nonrefundable retainer, you probably will not be able to recoup that expense.

Your contract may include information about payment in the event of termination of services. Before taking any action to fire your lawyer, be sure you’ve read the contract thoroughly. If anything in the contract seems unclear, you can consult with your new attorney.

Fees and Contingency

When both lawyers charge a contingency fee, they’ll split the amount awarded based on the proportion of work they each did for the case. If you fired your attorney after they’d done a significant amount of work for the case, they’ll probably receive a large portion of the payment. If you replaced them near the beginning of the process, the majority of the fee will go to your new lawyer. The two law firms will come to an agreement on the matter, so you don’t have to worry about dividing up the fee yourself.

Your previous lawyer may file an attorney’s lien if you don’t pay them what they’re owed. They might also file a small claims action against you. Even if you replace your lawyer at the very beginning of your case, it’s still important to ensure they receive the right payment.

Call Our Firm for a Second Opinion

Feeling stuck with inadequate legal representation can be incredibly challenging. Trying to manage the aftermath of your injury while also feeling unsupported by your attorney creates an unreasonable amount of stress. While you shouldn’t fire your lawyer on a whim, you should always remember that it’s an option if you’re unhappy with your legal services.

Consulting with another law firm can help you gain clarity as you evaluate whether or not to replace your attorney. If you’re looking for legal advice in California, you can reach out to us for assistance. We are a California car accident law firm with extensive experience advocating for personal injury clients. Our attorneys are happy to consult with you and help you decide the best path forward for your case. Call us today for a second opinion. 

Posted by

Michael Avanesian

Michael Avanesian, the founder and driving force behind Avian Law Group, is a passionate and dedicated attorney with a strong background in personal injury law. As a partner at JT Legal Group, Michael led the growth of the personal injury practice from a single employee to a team of over ninety professionals, securing over $2 billion in settlements for clients in just three years.

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