Can I Fire My Personal Injury Lawyer?
The short answer is, yes. At any point prior to signing a settlement agreement, a client may switch their personal injury lawyer.
A client may wish to fire their lawyer for several reasons; and at all times during a lawsuit, the choice to switch personal injury lawyers is the client’s and the client’s alone.
Although you can fire or change your personal injury lawyer at any time, there are some points to consider prior to making your decision and saying “I am going to switch my personal injury lawyer”.
The Client-Personal Injury Lawyer Relationship
Upon retaining a personal injury lawyer, you and that lawyer have entered into a “fiduciary relationship”. A fiduciary relationship is one in which your lawyer must always protect your interests.
If a personal injury lawyer acts or fails to act, in a way that benefits the client, the lawyer has breached their fiduciary duty. Once a fiduciary duty has been breached, the client has every right to fire their personal injury lawyer and find alternative representation.
When Has My Lawyer Breached Their Fiduciary Duty?
The following is a non-exhaustive list of situations in which a personal injury lawyer may have breached their fiduciary duty:
- Missing a limitation period or other deadline.
- Long periods of time between contact with your lawyer.
- If the lawyer is non-responsive to calls and emails.
- If the lawyer advises settlement when settlement is non-advantageous to the client.
- If the lawyer advises taking a “low-ball” offer.
- If there is a conflict of interest between your file and another file that the lawyer has taken on.
- If there is a conflict of interest between your file and an aspect of the lawyer’s personal life.
- If there is evidence that the lawyer lacks the necessary experience to get you fair compensation.
- If the lawyer prioritizes another file to the detriment of your file.
- If the lawyer is being investigated for an ethical or professional breach of conduct.
- If the lawyer has made substantial mistakes on your file.
- If the lawyer is dragging out your case with no valid reason to do so.
Other Situations Where You May Consider Switching Personal Injury Lawyers
Even without a fiduciary breach, a client can fire their personal injury lawyer. This can be done at any time during the lawsuit.
The following are some common reasons whereby a client may wish to switch their personal injury lawyer.
Perhaps you consistently have trouble reaching your lawyer. Perhaps your personal injury lawyer treats you in a hostile and rude manner. Perhaps your lawyer has made mistakes and you’ve lost confidence in their ability. Perhaps you and your lawyer have different views of the case. Perhaps you and your lawyer simply cannot get along.
Things To Consider Before Firing Your Personal Injury Lawyer
By their very nature, personal claims are contentious, long-term, and complicated lawsuits. This means that your lawyer has likely put significant effort and thought into your case.
Should you decide to switch personal injury lawyers, you will have to start fresh with a new lawyer and develop a new professional relationship.
With a new lawyer, you will lose all the experience and insight your previous lawyer has built with the case. It may take months, or even years, for a new lawyer to be brought up to speed. And in some cases, the new personal injury lawyer may never understand the case as well as the original lawyer.
When deciding whether to fire your personal injury lawyer, you must consider one critical fact… the new lawyer may be no better or maybe worse than their predecessor. There is no guarantee that switching lawyers will result in better representation.
Alternatives To Firing Your Personal Injury Lawyer
- Speak with your lawyer and air your concerns. Calling your lawyer and raising concerns is an effective way to reach a shared understanding. Like any relationship, clear and effective communication is essential to a successful lawyer-client relationship. If you have an issue with what your personal injury lawyer is doing, or isn’t doing, let them know. By clearly outlining your expectations, you may be able to increase the quality of legal representation.
- Let them know you are considering switching lawyers. Although you should not have to threaten your lawyer to attain adequate representation, letting them know that you are considering going elsewhere may result in more attention paid to your case.
- Firing your existing lawyer but staying with the same law firm. Switching lawyers but remaining with the same personal injury law firm can give you the best of both worlds. You get a new lawyer with whom you may be better compatible, and you alleviate the issues associated with a file transfer as your prior lawyer can bring the new lawyer up to speed with relative ease. And if the new lawyer has questions about your case, they can be easily answered.
- If your personal injury lawyer has made mistakes, consider the nature of those mistakes and their impact on your case. To this end, you should seek independent legal advice. A serious mistake, such as missing a limitation date, is a good reason to switch personal injury lawyers. If you are not sure how serious a mistake is, ask another lawyer for advice. If the mistake is serious enough to impact your claim’s value, you should consider firing your personal injury lawyer.
Ready to Switch Personal Injury Lawyers?
If you believe that the situation is beyond saving, and it is time to switch injury lawyers that’s ok. James H. Brown and Associates has taken on injury claims that were started by other lawyers countless times. We offer free injury claim evaluations even on claims that are in process. We have great relationships in the legal community and can help you transfer your file to our firm if that is deemed to be the best course of action. Additionally, as a large personal injury law firm with many lawyers, we can find the right fit for you and your file. We strive to assist you in your recovery every step of the way. Call us today for a free injury claim evaluation and get the compensation you deserve.