Can I Fire My Personal Injury Attorney?

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means their payment comes out of the final settlement or verdict. In other words, they don’t get paid until the case has been resolved, and if their client doesn’t win, they don’t collect any attorney’s fees.

While this arrangement typically benefits both parties, there’s at least one scenario in which it poses a major issue; clients who are unhappy with the counsel they receive tend to feel trapped. At the end of the day, though, accident victims have the right to fire their personal injury attorney and hire another. If you’re considering this option, read on to learn the answers to some relevant FAQs:

1. If I Fire a Lawyer in the Middle of the Proceedings, Will I Owe Him or Her Money?

Whether or not you’ll owe attorney’s fees after firing your lawyer depends on the terms of your contract and the stage at which you part ways. It’s likely that the attorney you fire will still be entitled to a percentage of your final settlement or verdict, but it might not be the full percentage that would have been collected if he or she had represented you to the resolution of your case.

It’s ultimately your new lawyer who will take on the loss since your former attorney’s fees will come out of your new lawyer’s share of the financial award. As such, switching attorneys might not impact your net recovery.

2. Why Might I Need to Fire My Attorney?

There are dozens of scenarios when firing a personal injury lawyer might be justified. Searching elsewhere for representation may be a good idea if the attorney:

  • Hasn’t started investigating or building your claim even though a significant amount of time has passed since the initial consultation;
  • Isn’t responding to your inquiries in a timely manner; or
  • Insists that you see only certain medical providers because the law firm has some kind of referral arrangement.

3. How Do I Go About Firing a Personal Injury Attorney?

It’s wise to find a new personal injury lawyer before firing your current one because the new counsel can help you terminate the old attorney/client relationship. The steps for doing so include reviewing the terms of any contracts you signed, drafting a formal letter, and sending it via certified mail. If your case is pending in court, you will also have to notify the judge of the withdrawal and substitution.