Selecting an attorney for a personal injury case is a major decision. You will need to have the ability to trust that your lawyer is zealously advocating for your best interests. The ideal attorney-client relationship is one where both parties work together toward a successful outcome. However, sometimes a client finds that an attorney is not putting forth their best efforts. When that happens, it may be time to find a new lawyer.
There can be any number of reasons that you may want to seek out new representation. Some of these can include:
- Lack Of Communication: Communication in any relationship is key, but especially in the attorney-client context. One of the duties an attorney has is to keep his or her client informed of what is going on in their case. For example, it there was a hearing held over a discovery matter, your attorney should call you to let you know the outcome of that hearing. Likewise, if you call with a question, your point of contact within the firm should make an effort to return your call within a reasonable amount of time. If a member of your attorney's staff is not returning your calls or is not making any attempt to communicate with you about the status of your case, then you may decide to find legal help elsewhere.
- Disorganization: Attorneys are required to do proficient work within a timely manner. If an attorney is missing deadlines, is unprepared for court, or is simply not putting any effort into your case, then that attorney is not representing you to the best of their ability and it may be time to find someone who can.
- Ignoring Your Wishes: An attorney may be able to advise you what they believe the best course of action to take in your case is, but they are not allowed to make this decision for you. Major decisions in your case should be up to you. For example, if you are unhappy with the settlement offer from the other side and you feel that your attorney is pressuring you to take the offer, but you don't want to, you don't have to. An attorney is required to follow the client's instructions, as long as the client is not instructing the attorney to do anything illegal or unethical.
When changing attorneys it is important to be aware that your old attorney may be entitled to reasonable compensation for the services they provided. In contingency fee cases, the attorneys may share the fee from any recovery you may obtain.
Hiring a New Lawyer
You can change your attorney once your case has begun. It may seem like another hassle you don't want to undertake, but your lawsuit, recovery, damages, and even your life may be affected by how your case turns out. You don't want to leave it in the hands of a lawyer who doesn't consider you a priority.
Your attorney has professional and ethical obligations to keep you informed of the progress in your case. Your attorney also has an obligation to be competent to handle all aspects of your case, and zealously fight for you. Under the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, your attorney is required to maintain a certain standard of representation. If they are not up to the professional and ethical standards, you may have good cause to fire them and seek a new attorney who will do all that they can to ensure success for you and your family.
Before you fire your attorney, consider talking to a new attorney to make sure you have someone on your side to handle your case, and pick up where the other attorney left off. Most professional personal injury attorneys will offer a free no-obligation consultation to discuss representation, terms, and how they will handle your case. You can also talk to another attorney about why you are dissatisfied with your current lawyer so the issue won't be a problem going forward. Another attorney can also help you to notify your lawyer that you are changing representation, and communicate with the court so your case can continue moving forward.
One area where there may be some complications with changing your lawyer has to do with the contingent fee agreement you likely signed. Your prior attorney may be allowed to recover “reasonable compensation” for the work they did on your case. You can talk with your new attorney about how to handle this. In many cases, your new lawyer and old lawyer may share a percentage of the contingent fees after you have successfully recovered for your injury, without any out-of-pocket costs to you.
Finding 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 file your lawsuit in the proper court, do an in-depth investigation into your case, and fight for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.