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Can I Fire My Personal Injury Lawyer?

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Can I Fire My Personal Injury Lawyer?

The short answer to the question is yes you can fire your personal injury attorney. Before doing so there are a number of things you need to consider. Most importantly you need to determine how much you will owe your personal injury attorney after you fire the attorney. The law varies slightly from state to state. As a general rule you will owe your personal injury attorney, or any attorney who you fire, the reasonable value of the work the person did up to the point you fired them. The law calls this the quantum meruit amount.

The concept is basically the same if you hire any person to do work, such as a painter, plumber, or other contractor. When you terminate the person, you need to pay them for what they already did.

You may feel your attorney did not accomplish much and that is one of the reasons your want to fire your lawyer. The problem is many attorneys are not particularly good in keeping clients informed of the progress in their cases. One of the most frequent complaints to bar associations is attorneys failing to advise clients what is taking place in the case.

Many contingency fee agreements for personal injury representation contain a provision that in the event the attorney Is fired the client will owe an amount for attorney’s fees equal to the reasonable value for the work completed. The attorney will need to establish how much work was done. Since many attorneys who represent people on a contingency fee basis do not keep track of the hours put into the case the amount of work the attorney did on a personal injury case will generally be determined by the results as shown in the file. In a case involving a motor vehicle crash the attorney will probably have obtained the police report, copies of pertinent medicals and other investigative material. The extent and nature of the investigative material will many times determine the amount of work done on a case that never went to court. If the personal injury claim was filed in court there will be much more activity which the lawyer can look to for substantiation of work which was done. It was necessary to write a personal injury complaint, file it with the court and serve it on the negligent driver. Once the case moves forward there will also be civil discovery. This consists of sending written questions, or interrogatories, to the negligent driver and commonly taking the deposition of the negligent driver.

After you fire a personal injury attorney you probably will get another attorney to represent you. The new attorney may be able to resolve the case with a settlement you find acceptable. At the time the case is settled the attorney you fired will bring a claim for the reasonable value of the services the first attorney performed. Your new attorney will possess an obligation to honor any lien filed by your first Attorney. This sometimes can prevent the settlement from going forward. In some instances, the new attorney will hold a portion of the attorney’s fees in trust until there is a resolution of the amount of money owed to the first attorney.

As a client you may view the dispute over attorney’s fees as a dispute between the lawyers. The law, however, views it as a dispute between your first attorney and you as to how much you owe the first attorney. If your first lawyer is unable to reach an agreement with the second personal injury lawyer a lawsuit may arise in which you are sued. Your deposition may be taken and various other discovery may take place involving you. It can become a major inconvenience.

Irrespective as to what eventually takes place with regard to the division of the legal fees the total amount which you will pay in attorney fees should never exceed the highest amount you agreed to pay your first personal injury attorney.

As an example, you agreed to pay your first personal injury attorney 1/3 of the amount recovered. The case was settled for $75,000. The total attorney fees for both personal injury attorneys generally should not exceed $25,000.

The law provides you can fire any attorney. There will be consequences. The biggest consequence is you will owe the first lawyer a reasonable amount for the work the attorney did. As you can see from reading this, a dispute regarding the attorney’s fees for personal injury representation can be time consuming and a tremendous inconvenience to you.

For these reasons you should give very careful consideration to firing your first personal injury attorney. It may well be the injury attorney Is doing a lot for you but isn’t telling you what is happening. Engaging in a heart-to-heart discussion with the attorney will, or should, provide some insight as to what your attorney did and what was accomplished. It may turn out your case is close to resolution, but your lawyer is not particularly communicative. It is better to ask questions and find out what exactly a personal injury attorney accomplished before firing the person. If you find your lawyer accomplished very little and you lack confidence in your attorney you certainly possess the right to fire the person. There will be consequences.

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At David Allen & Associates you will find Personal Injury attorneys to help people injured in motor vehicle accidents, social security disability and long term disability lawyers to help those who cannot work, and Insurance Bad Faith lawyers to help policyholders collect the benefits they paid for. All of our attorneys share an unwavering commitment to helping our Personal Injury, Social Security Disability and Long Term Disability clients recover, and they have excellent track records of success when it comes to gaining decisions for their injured clients.

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