When it comes to auto and work accident cases you generally have the right to replace your attorney whenever you want.
Ultimately, even when hiring an attorney to handle your case, you are responsible for your legal matters. Therefore, if you do not feel that your issues are being appropriately addressed or that you aren’t receiving the level of service that you require, changing your attorney is up to you.
Bear in mind that this should be reserved as a last resort action. Changing your attorney can slow your case down, increase the cost of legal fees, and requires additional time and effort to get your new lawyer up to speed.
There’s no doubt that hiring the right attorney is critical to getting your legal matters squared away. When you hire an attorney, he has a responsibility to represent you and your best interest. However, this is a two-way relationship, and you also owe it to your lawyer to heed his advice.
Some common issues clients face include:
- The lawyer not achieving the results they seek
- A lack of communication with their lawyer
- Most often clients don’t get to speak with the lawyer handling their case, but rather a paralegal, secretary or junior associate
- Their lawyer arriving late to meetings, unable to find documents, not remembering facts of the case, and not submitting documents on time
- A conflict of interest
- Changing circumstances in their case
- Their attorney not properly explaining their strategy
- Not having a clear understanding of when the case may be over, whether it will settle, and how much it’s worth
Just because you have the right to change your attorney mid-case, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes, it’s important to re-evaluate whether the issues lie with your attorney or the nature of your case.
Requesting a second opinion in the form of a free consultation with a different attorney might help to clarify some of your concerns.
A few key things to consider before firing your attorney are:
- The timing. Do you have a big trial coming up or are you in the midst of a significant negotiation?
- The new attorney you hire will require time to research your situation and may not be adequately equipped to pick up in the middle of a process.
- Statutes. The timeframe in which you must recover compensation varies by the type of situation and state in which it’s being handled.
- A difference of opinion. When you switch attorneys, your new attorney may have a different strategy for your case.
If you switch your attorney, keep in mind that your first attorney may have a lien for fees and expenses on your case. He will still have a right to his fees and reimbursement of expenses.
When changing attorneys, it’s essential to get in writing an agreement to a no-fee interest or expense interest in the case.
If your attorney is the one who terminates the attorney-client relationship, he will not be eligible for compensation. Again, even if your attorney drops your case, it is essential that you get in writing an agreement to seek no fees and expenses and waive attorney’s fees or liens.
Switching your attorney may delay your case and the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to collect what you’re owed. You should also ask your previous attorney to forward your file over to your new attorney to help expedite his learning.
Generally, you have a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases to recover compensation, keep that in mind when deciding if changing attorneys is best for your case.