When you should get rid of your personal injury attorney
The number one complaint I have heard over the years is that clients get little communication from their personal injury attorneys. Communication is vital to you, the client, to keep you aware of where your case is and where it is going.
To better understand communication you need to be aware of how the whole personal injury process works. Little is done in the beginning of your case. They will send a letter of representation to the insurance company, which may take up to 30 days.
Personal Injury Cases Take time
Personal injury attorneys will generally gather medical records and bills while you are treating with doctor. Your case really does not start until you are finished treating with your doctor. Then the attorney will make sure he has all your medical records, receipts, and work you may have missed, etc.
However, this process can take time, and as a client you need to understand that in some cases one phone call is all that is needed to get medical records, or the attorney may have to actually send someone to go pick them up.
Some reasons why clients fire their personal injury Attorneys
Communication & no return phone calls
This is by far the number one complaint from clients. They can never get in touch with their attorney or case manager. What the client may think is an important issue; the attorney may not see it that way. I can’t tell you the countless times when I worked for personal injury attorneys I would have clients call me because they could not get in touch with their attorney. I would answer the phone, the attorney would not.
Have you ever called your attorney only to be put on hold for 15 minutes or left voice messages that never get returned? This happens quite often, the signal this might send to a client is that your personal injury case is not important. And, the lawyer is too busy to help you. You may assume he does not think your case is worthy of his time, but he may be extremely busy at the time you called as well.
Emails are a really good way of communicating with a personal injury lawyer.
Believe it or not, Attorneys talk on the phone a lot, so emailing is always a good option if the phone just is not working. It might be that the attorney wants to get fired because your slam dunk case is looking pretty bad.
Communication is important to both parties and is certainly is a reason to fire your current attorney. The same goes for clients. We have had to drive to a client’s house to get a document signed because they would never return the law firms calls.
Your case takes too long
Some personal injury cases may take years to settle while others may settle in as little as four months. The time it takes a case to settle may depends on many factors. If your personal injury case is not going to be settled out of court, it really should not take more than 6 months to a year. If a personal injury case goes to trial, it may take well over a year to reach a settlement.
Many clients get frustrated with the personal injury process. It’s possible the case manager or attorney did not explain it to them in great detail. In some states you may only have a year to resolve a case before having to file a lawsuit. In other states you may have up to four years.
The bottom line is a personal injury lawyer cannot settle a case while you are still under a doctor’s care. He may be collecting doctor’s bills and sending out correspondence to the insurance company, but he can’t settle anything until your medical care is finished.
Medical care may take a month, it may take 6. After you have finished medical care, your attorney can really start working to put a settlement demand together for the insurance company.
But in order for them to do this they need your medical records. This process can take a week to 3 months to complete. If it’s 4 -6 months after you have finished medical care, you need to call your personal injury attorney for an update.
Out of their area of expertise
Many Attorneys are great in some areas while not so good in others. This does not mean they are bad attorneys, it just means they lack the expertise of someone who may do personal injury all the time. I have seen bankruptcy attorneys handle personal injury cases and not have a clue to what they are doing. Your current attorney may lack the trial expertise or personal injury experience; you may need to speak with another personal injury lawyer.
Some lawyers will take any case they can get. And, it does not matter to them what it is. They may have never done a personal injury case before in there life, but other areas of there practice are slow. So, they are willing to take a gamble and take your case, all at the expense of you.
Your personal injury attorney is unprofessional
I have seen some unprofessional attorneys in my day. All the way from the way they dress to the nature of how they speak. Would you hire a personal injury attorney that worked out of their basement, or wore shorts to work?
I have seen an attorney who I thought was very unprofessional. He was laying on a couch when I walked into his office; he then proceeded to tell me all the bad things about other personal injury attorneys in the area. I found him lacking character, he could never tell me what he could do, only the bad things other attorney shad done. Don’t deal with personal injury lawyers who are like this.
Most professional attorneys are generally very meticulous of how they look and act. They generally want you to meet them at their office, so they can show off their success. They are very proud of what they have accomplished.
Most personal injury attorneys I have met over the years are just like you and me. They have wives, husbands, children and believe it or not, emotions. I can only say that a very small percentage of attorneys that I know of would fall in the group above. The majority of them want to do a good job and do it quickly, but sometimes the ball does get dropped.
Have you lost trust in your personal injury Attorney? He may have told you one thing and he did another. It’s easy to lose trust in someone when what they tell you does not become reality.
Ever feel like your attorney lied to you? It happens all the time. If you have trust issues with your current attorney, it would be a good idea to speak with another law firm about your issues before you fire your current attorney. Once the trust is broken, you will question his every move from there on out.
As with all business, sometime you, the client are not happy with the service you receive from your personal injury lawyer. In some instances personal injury lawyers say things that may or may not be the truth to get you on board with their law firm. I have stories on both sides of the fence. Firing a personal injury lawyer is not as hard as one would believe. It usually involves faxing a letter to the attorney’s office.
If you do decide to fire your personal injury attorney, make sure you have a valid reason for doing so. One thing attorneys do not like to see is a client who has had their case passed on from attorney to attorney. They may want you to explain why you have switched attorneys so many times and may not take your case because you have done so. If you feel you need to fire your attorney, make sure you have exhausted all possible means to resolve the issue before doing so.
The contract you signed when you hired your attorney may have clauses in it that protect the attorney. If the attorney has put any time in your personal injury case, he is due moneys from your settlement for his time. Some clients will say that the attorney has done nothing, but behind the scenes he may have invested a lot of time in your case, and time equals money. Just to setup a personal injury case file involves a case manager or legal secretary and anywhere from an hour to a couple of hours depending on the case and the information at hand.
What is involved when switching personal injury attorneys?
If you have made up your mind and plan on firing your current attorney, it might be a good idea to visit or call another law firm first. Depending on what you signed when you hired your lawyer, you may owe money to your current attorney. In most cases this would be handled on a lien. They would take their money when you received yours. You may not owe anything.
If your case has been in process for a year and the attorney achieved a settlement, he may be entitled to a percentage of what he achieved if you fire him. I will tell you from experience, make a good decision to begin with. Personal injury attorneys don’t like taking cases that have had 1 or more attorneys already involved. They make look at you as a problem client.
Your attorney may fire you as a client
Many clients depend on their personal injury lawyer for things outside of their scope of expertise. I have personally seen clients asking for money up front for their case. They want to dictate every step of the process because they think they know how a personal injury case works. Putting demands on a personal injury attorney may get you, fired. Some attorneys do not like problem clients, if they consider you a problem, your may get fired, not the other way around.
Firing your car accident attorney
You generally write something out on a piece of paper and fax it to them. Make sure to retain a copy and a copy of the fax transmission to show it went through. You will need to give this to your new personal injury attorney. He will then request your file from the attorney you just fired. You do not need to talk to the attorney you just fired. He no longer works for you. Do not call them and tell them they are fired. They have to have something in writing. Make sure you sign and date it.
What you write would simply say, I such and such no longer require the services of “law firm” effective immediately, date and sign it. You don’t need to go into why you are releasing them, keep it simple. Fax it from a ups store or Fedex if you don’t have a fax machine. Make sure to keep the confirmation that they received it.
Try and work it out
It would be wise if you are upset at your attorney, to cool off and communicate effectively. If you are having issues with your attorney, make sure he knows what those issues are before you fire him. Give your lawyer the opportunity to explain or to fix the issues. Firing your lawyer could have consequences you may not understand. If he has been working on your case for an extended period of time, you may owe him money.
If your personal injury case is in the trial stage and you fire your attorney, it may be hard to find an attorney to pick up your case. It’s important to get a copy of the paperwork you signed with your current attorney and go over it. It you don’t understand some of the paperwork, ask questions. You should ask these questions before you even sign the paperwork so you have a complete understanding of how the whole process works.
I have always told people who are thinking about firing there attorney to make sure they have exhausted all means before doing so. What i mean by that is to make sure you have tried to communicate your issues to them in an effective manner. Calling an attorney and using every curse word in the book will get you fired, not the other way around. If communication fails to resolve the issues then it might be a good idea to fire your attorney.