Can you fire your personal injury lawyers? Yes, you can terminate your personal injury lawyer’s services, but there may be financial obligations involved. In personal injury cases, many attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case or receive a settlement. If you choose to fire them, you may still be responsible for any agreed-upon fees or expenses.
At Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C., we get calls from people all the time who are frustrated with their current lawyer and are considering a switch.
What Leads to Switching Attorneys in the Middle of a Case?
There are multiple reasons why someone may switch lawyers in the middle of a case. Most clients in this situation are frustrated with some aspect of the representation before considering a switch in representation.
The following are reasons why some people choose to change lawyers in the middle of a case:
- Your lawyer does not communicate and fails to return calls or emails;
- Your attorney is rude and talks down to you;
- Your case seems like it isn’t moving along;
- Your lawyer does not listen to your input;
- Your lawyer is pressuring you to accept a settlement you want to reject;
- Your lawyer does not explain the case strategy to you;
- Your lawyer does not seem to have a case strategy;
- Your lawyer does not communicate the legal process to you in a way you can understand;
- You do not trust your lawyer;
- Your feel your lawyer is not handling your case appropriately; or
- Your lawyer died or was disbarred.
It is important to remember that your lawyer works for you, and you can fire your attorney any time you want. You are not stuck with the lawyer even though you signed an engagement letter.
Can You Hire Another Lawyer If You Already Have One?
Whether you can switch an attorney depends on where you are in the case. If you have already filed your court case, there is a process you must follow with the court to initiate a substitution of counsel.
Can you hire another lawyer if you already have one? Substitution of counsel is a formal notice to the court and other parties involved in the case that you’re changing attorneys.
You must follow the specific rules of the particular court for your case. The sooner you change lawyers, the more likely the court will grant the request. If switching attorneys would cause an unreasonable delay in the case, the court may deny the request to substitute counsel.
The process is more straightforward if you have yet to file a legal claim. Your new lawyer can tell your original lawyer about the change and request your case file. Your lawyer can also inform the insurance company and other parties that you have new legal representation.
The Process of Switching Attorneys
Subject to limitations, you have the right to change attorneys. Discharging your attorney may seem overwhelming, but it does not have to be. You have the right to change your attorney any time for any reason.
The process of switching attorneys will not cost you anything. You likely signed a contingency agreement. When you change lawyers, your new lawyer and your old one will share the fee of any verdict or settlement.
The total amount you pay is the same, but the two lawyers split it according to how much work each lawyer performed.
Switching lawyers does not hurt your case. If your new lawyer works harder for you, a change can help your case. If there is some reason that you could be disadvantaged by switching attorneys, an ethical lawyer would explain this to you during your free consultation.
If you change attorneys, your old lawyer must turn over all records. Thus, your new lawyer should be fine picking up exactly where the original attorney left off. You lose nothing.
Your new lawyer can send a letter to your old lawyer advising the original lawyer to stop work and that you have changed attorneys. Your new lawyer can also send a consent to change attorneys, so your old lawyer will know that you have approved the change.
Does It Look Bad to Switch Lawyers?
Switching lawyers does not reflect poorly on your case. It’s a routine occurrence in legal matters. So does it look bad to switch lawyers? If you have a good reason to switch lawyers, a change could only increase your chances of a favorable recovery.
As discussed, it will not cost you anything. So if you believe you have a reason to change attorneys, do not hesitate to look into it. The sooner, the better.
How Often Should I Hear from My Personal Injury Attorney?
How often should I hear from my personal injury attorney? One of clients’ most common complaints about their attorneys is a lack of communication.
This complaint includes difficulty getting calls and emails returned promptly. As a client, you are entitled to frequent, clear communications. You deserve to have your questions answered.
Even if your lawyer is working on other cases, they should still get back to you within a day or two. If your attorney is in trial for another matter, your lawyer’s office should communicate with you and advise you of your attorney’s schedule.
Your lawyer owes you responses to your communications. There are no excuses for an attorney who takes weeks to return calls or emails—or who doesn’t return them at all.
You may not have heard anything from your attorney because the insurance company is using a stall tactic to delay. The insurance company can afford to wait, but the injured person often doesn’t have that luxury.
If you have filed a lawsuit, you may not have heard from your attorneys due to court processes. Your case may be waiting in line, and there may be nothing new to report. This time in limbo can be frustrating, but your attorney should communicate this to you and respond if you inquire about your case.
What to Do When You Are Not Happy with a Personal Injury Settlement
If you have received lowball offers and believe that your attorney’s strategy led to these offers, you may need to consider firing your current attorney.
If the insurance company is not offering a fair settlement, you may need to file a lawsuit. But keep in mind that you must do so before the expiration of New Mexico’s three-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases.
Filing a lawsuit will likely prolong the case. But it can help to ensure a fair settlement for your injuries. If you are dissatisfied with the offer presented by your current attorney, get a second opinion.
Remember, in the end, it is your case. Therefore you are entitled to seek the maximum recovery that the law and facts allow in your case.
Get the Representation You Deserve from Experienced New Mexico Personal Injury Attorneys
You must have a good working relationship with your personal injury lawyer. The success of your case depends on it. If you think your relationship with your attorney is beyond repair, or you wish to explore your options even if you already have an attorney, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The legal team at Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. would like to hear your story. Contact us today to schedule a free case review with a skilled New Mexico personal injury lawyer. Call or contact us online.