It can be difficult to choose the right lawyer, especially if this is your first time dealing with a lawsuit. Many lawyers look promising in a television commercial or in newspaper ads, but don't quite live up to these promises in reality. Now, weeks or months into your case, you may be wondering whether you can fire your attorney after your case has begun.
You do have the ability to fire your attorney, and there are many reasons you may wish to find different representation. However, firing your current attorney can cause delays in your case, so it is generally advisable to go through the process of finding another lawyer only when you have a good cause.
Common Reasons for Seeking a New Attorney
An attorney has ethical obligations to their client, and if they are not taking their professional responsibilities seriously, this may be a good cause to seek new representation. Under the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, “a lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”
If your lawyer is not familiar with personal injury claims then they may not have the legal knowledge, skill, or preparation to adequately represent you. If you have doubts about your attorney's competence, you should discuss the issue with them. If you are still not confident, it may be time to find another attorney.
Diligence and Zeal
Your attorney also has an obligation to diligently pursue your case and fight for you throughout your lawsuit. Under the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, “a lawyer shall represent a client zealously and diligently within the bounds of the law.” Additionally, your lawyer should act with reasonable promptness.
Even if a lawsuit encounters opposition, your lawyer still has an obligation to pursue your case. Failing to act with due diligence can harm your case and decrease your ability to recover damages. If your attorney is missing court deadlines, fails to show up for hearings or meetings, or does not take your case seriously, it may be time to find another attorney.
One of the most common complaints from clients seeking a new attorney is that their lawyer does not keep them informed. Under the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4, “a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.A lawyer who receives an offer of settlement in a civil case or proffered plea bargain in a criminal case shall inform the client promptly of the substance of the communication.”
Unfortunately, lawsuits often take much longer than a client would hope or expect, but this is no reason for the attorney to fail to keep their client informed of any status changes. If you ask your attorney what a certain term means, or what the purpose of an upcoming motion is all about, and they blow you off without giving you a decent explanation, you may want to consider firing your attorney.
Terminating Your Attorney
Ideally, the payment details of separating from a contingency fee attorney are spelled out in the contract you signed, but if the attorney is not diligent, this may not have been included. In cases where you are unsure what it might cost you to fire your attorney, consider speaking to an experienced and qualified personal injury lawyer for a second opinion. They may be able to advise you of your options, and handle transferring your case.
Hiring the Right Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident, the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian may be able to help. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Pennsylvania. We will diligently and zealously fight for your rights, conduct an in-depth investigation into your case, and keep you informed of any issues or status changes throughout the case. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.