It might be a sign of the times but one of the most frequently asked questions we are receiving from potential new clients is, "can I fire my old lawyer and hire you to represent me in my injury case?" The answer is that it really depends upon the situation and there are many factors to consider. When I am asked this question, I normally ask a number of questions regarding the case because there are many different issues to consider before coming to a conclusion.
First and foremost, I ask about the case, what caused the accident, what type of injuries were sustained, what type of care and treatment was received, has maximum medical improvement been reached, when the accident occurred, what their lawyer has told them about their case, where are they in an attempted resolution of their case, have they received any offers and what were they, and how much insurance coverage is available to compensate them for their injuries and damages. I also discuss why they are currently unhappy with their lawyer. Does this involve a situation where sporadic telephone calls have not been returned or is it a case where there is a gross lack of communication on the part of their lawyer? How long has their current lawyer been representing them and what is the status of their case? What have they been told, how frequently have they been updated about their case and how comfortable are they with their current lawyer? Is their case currently in suit, have depositions been conducted, what defenses have been advanced, and is it scheduled for trial?
Based on all of this information I will generally suggest several options. If it appears that the caller's case is ready to be resolved and there is not sufficient insurance coverage to properly compensate them for their injuries and damages and assuming there are no assets that are owned by the at-fault party to go after personally, then I tell the caller to make an appointment with their current lawyer to get into their office and go over absolutely everything regarding their case so that they can put the train back on the tracks to get their case resolved as soon as possible. The problem with getting a new lawyer involved in a case, at a later junction, is that it may delay the caller's ability to resolve their case and get compensated.
If it is a case that has substantial value and assuming that the current lawyer has not done things to jeopardize the value of the caller's case then we will explain to the individual another option that they have available to them. If they are interested in changing lawyers, and if our firm is willing to represent them, we can sit down and go over their case in great detail. We would get a significant amount of information from the caller and then we would write to the prior lawyer and advised that lawyer that we are taking over the file. We would also advise that lawyer not to contact their former client any further and to provide us with a complete set of copies of the file.
We also explain to the new client that this will not cost them any more money. In other words, if we are willing to take over their case, the fee would remain the same and the division of that fee would be worked out between our firm and the prior lawyer without any additional cost, aggravation, or extra work for the client. We would also advance the costs to develop the new client's case which means they do not have to come up with any money out of their own pocket. The transition of the file to our office would be seamless and we would immediately get to work once we received their file from their prior lawyer. We would then follow up with them once we receive their file to tell them what else we needed to do in order to get their file to a point where we could attempt to resolve it for them through a potential negotiated settlement.
If you are currently unhappy with your lawyer and you would like to get a second opinion about your personal injury case please feel free to contact us. In many instances, we will have a detailed conversation with you and will suggest that you are better off staying with your current lawyer and we will tell you the things that you should do to rehabilitate this relationship and get your case to the point where you can get it resolved and get paid as soon as possible. If we feel that it would be in your best interest for us to represent you, we will tell you that as well and then all you will need to do is sign a separate retainer agreement with our office and we will take care of everything else.
Please contact us today if you would like us to review the facts of your case with you and advise you as to what we think you should be doing. The consultation is free and without obligation and the information that you share with us will not be disclosed to the lawyer that you currently have representing you. In other words, your current lawyer will not know from our office that you are unhappy with their representation of you unless and until you sign a retainer agreement with our office asking us to represent you from that point forward. Contact us today to see how we can assist you!
PS. If you have been injured, click here to download your free “Crash Course: On PersonalInjury Claims” eBook