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In the chaos after a serious car accident, people sometimes make mistakes and hire the wrong lawyer. This realization usually dawns on the client two or three weeks after the crash when they still have not spoken to their injury lawyer and the lawyers assistant keeps telling the client everything is fine. If your lawyer has not laid out a detailed game plan in the first meeting and established short and long term goals, it is time to get a better Atlanta accident lawyer.
Unless there are already offers on the table from the other driver’s insurance company, it is very easy to fire a car accident or wrongful death lawyer. They will not present you with a bill and you are entitled to your complete file. If another lawyer takes over, they will have to pay off any attorney’s lien that the original lawyer takes out but this does not come out of your pocket.
Example: You hire lawyer #1 and 3 months into treatment you decide that the lawyer is just not communicating. You signed a contract at 33.3% for the lawyers’ fee. You fire the lawyer and hire lawyer # 2. Lawyer number two eventually settles the case for $100,000.00 on the same contract bases. Lawyer #1 files an attorney’s lien claiming they spent $3,500.00 worth of time on the file before you fired them. Lawyer #2 would be paid the $33,333.33 from the gross and out of that money they would pay off the first lawyer. You still get the same client’s share.
If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then you should insist on an in-person meeting with the lawyer and get these issues fixed. If you are still not satisfied, fire them.
Let’s assume you made up your mind that you hired the wrong attorney and now you want to fire your injury lawyer. How do I fire my lawyer and what do I owe them if I do? Let’s get into some detailed analysis:
The law says that an personal injury attorney is entitled to be paid for the value of the work they did unless there is an offer on the table. In the first month, it is unlikely there will be an offer so you will only owe the lawyer money based on the amount of time they spent working on your case. In month 1, that amount is very small. The best part is, if you fire your lawyer and hire another one, the money owed to the first lawyer comes out of the same 33.3% attorneys fee portion. In other words, if you hire lawyer 1 and fire them and then hire lawyer two, each of their contracts will have provided that they are entitled to 33.3% of the gross recovery pre-suit. (unless you are getting ripped off by a lawyer charging 40% fees pre-suit) So, when you fire lawyer 1, you pay them nothing at that time. If down the road, your car accident lawyer settles the case and recovers $25,000.00 for you, 1/3 of the money goes to lawyer 2 and he or she then has to deal with paying out to lawyer 1. It is not your problem. In summary, it does not cost anything extra to fire your first lawyer and hire a second one.
Once an offer is made by the car insurance company, the lawyer’s contract will provide that they are entitled to their fee no matter what. You cannot fire the lawyer and accept the offer because they will assert an attorney’s lien with the insurance company. In this situation, it is difficult to get another injury lawyer involved. The best thing to do is, pick up the phone and call around and get a sampling of legal opinions. There are a number of low-grade injury attorneys in Atlanta that regularly underprice and mishandle files. Sometimes, a more experienced lawyer can spot the value in the case or develop a stronger liability theory.
Simply send them a fax or email stating:
I am no longer in need of your services. (If there was a reason like failure to return calls, laziness, etc, insert that here ) I have decided to handle my case with another attorney (or you can say on your own) and I will need to pick up my file within 14 days. Please telephone me at xxx-xxxx when my file is ready to be picked up.
Then telephone their office to confirm receipt of your letter the next day. You should also advise the insurance company in writing that the lawyer no longer represents you. An unscrupulous lawyer may try to call and settle your case without your permission.
If you have questions feel free to contact us.
Caller: My son just signed a contract to retain a lawyer to handle his slight injury in a car accident. but now my son does not want to go through with it because something about the attorney does not feel right. He just signed the contract about 1 hr ago so can he just send him a fax or email firing him?
Answer: Yes, you can absolutely fire the lawyer at this point. They have not done any work on your son’s file. Follow your gut instinct.