Until reaching a settlement, clients have the right to change attorneys. Before deciding to do so, it’s important to consider the reasons and if they are worth the potential costs and hassle that may accompany this decision. Then a client should be aware of how to complete this process.
Determining If It’s a Good Idea to Change Attorneys in the Midst of a Personal Injury Settlement
There are many reasons why a client may decide to end his/her relationship with an attorney. The person may be unsatisfied with the handling of the case if he or she rarely hears from the attorney or receives updates infrequently. The attorney has made empty promises, or it’s discovered his/her practices are unethical. These could be valid reasons for making a change.
Clients sometimes mistakenly believe that if attorney haven’t done what they view as a good job on the case, they don’t deserve to be paid. But despite someone’s lack of satisfaction, any services that have been performed entitle the attorney to payment. A possible exception would be an attorney who acted in an illegal or fraudulent manner.
Disputes about attorney’s fees can become an issue. But at the same time, it shouldn’t cost a client more money to hire new legal representation. The work already performed carries over. However, the fees could differentiate between one attorney and the next.
Steps to Take When Changing Attorneys for a Personal Injury Case
Whatever the reason(s) for changing attorneys, it’s usually a good idea to secure new legal representation before firing the other one. This not only makes the transition easier, but also can eliminate the uncomfortable task of informing the ex-attorney that his or her services no longer are needed.
The new attorney can send a letter to the former attorney about the termination of services. Otherwise, it will be up to the client to do so. This is important because if the attorney isn’t aware of the change, work on the case may continue, and the client has to pay for those services.
The next step is to determine if the former attorney is entitled to payment. Again, the newly hired one can handle this for the client. Of course, any services rendered should be paid.
If it was a contingency fee case, then it’s possible the previous attorney will be entitled to a portion of the award. And if fees were paid up front, but not all of the work was completed, a request for reimbursement will need to be made.
Another reason it’s important to secure a new attorney is so he or she can obtain from the former attorney all of the files and work done on the case. This will help eliminate any interruptions. And again, it doesn’t require the client to do anything.
Changing attorneys in the middle of settling a personal injury case may not be the ideal solution, but it could be the necessary one. Be sure to hire someone who is a good fit. We welcome client questions at any stage of the claim process at Jason R. Schultz P.C.