My Personal Injury Lawyer is Taking Too Long. What Should I Do?
You’re concerned by the time it’s taking to get your personal injury case resolved. You think your lawyer is taking too long and need help deciding what to do next. Before you take any step towards firing your attorney, make sure you understand the realities of personal injury cases.
A personal injury lawsuit can take months or even years to complete. Before you fire your attorney, you need to have an honest conversation. Give the attorney a chance to discuss what is taking so long and where your case stands right now and in the upcoming weeks.
This conversation should be enough to help you decide if your attorney is overbooked and simply doesn’t have time for your case or if your expectations are unreasonable. As personal injury cases are typically handled on a contingency fee basis, attorneys need to take additional cases to keep money coming in while your case is worked on. You are not going to have a lawyer working constantly on your case and refusing all other clients.
It gives your attorney a chance to discuss what delays are present. While the attorney should keep you updated, it may have slipped his/her mind. You may get an apology and the answers you’re seeking. It could be as simple as the court date is months away, so there is nothing new the lawyer can tell you. It could also be that the attorney has been having a hard time getting the information that’s needed from an insurance company. If you’re still not getting a response, you have a right to seek new representation.
Signs That Your Attorney is Not Working for You
There are two clear signs you can rely on to know if you need to find a new attorney. The first is that the attorney is ghosting you. You’ve called and left messages and never get a response. You’ve sent emails and hear nothing back. You’ve stopped by the office and found your lawyer is out or the office is closed. While it’s understandable to have that happen every now and then, if it’s been weeks of this behavior, your attorney is clearly not interested in interacting with you.
The second sign is that when you do reach out to your attorney, you’re given excuses. Life does get hectic, so your lawyer may be busier on some days than others. If weeks have passed and your attorney keeps telling you he/she has had no time to start your case, you’re better off moving on.
How Do You Make the Switch?
Before you fire your lawyer, read over the contract you signed. See what the terms were for canceling the contract. There may be a specific protocol to follow. You may need to send an official letter via certified mail or a courier service. Follow the instructions given in the contract when possible.
There may be financial consequences. If the attorney spent two months gathering evidence and questioning witnesses, there are two months of legal fees the attorney will feel you owe. Filing a lien against you ensures the attorney gets the payment that’s due because you canceled the contract. If your new attorney wins the case, that lien plus the payment to the new lawyer would both be deducted from the money you win in the lawsuit.
The bottom line is that you may have to pay two lawyers. Firing a lawyer shouldn’t be taken lightly for that reason. It’s best to request a free consultation with a new attorney and see if that attorney feels it would be to your advantage to work out issues with your attorney or find new representation.
If you talk to a new attorney and decide to switch practices, include the name and contact information of your new attorney into the termination letter you draft and send to your former representation. You want your case file to be forwarded to your new attorney. If your case was already on the court dockets, you need to notify the court that you have hired a new attorney. Your old and new attorneys will likely take care of that for you through separation motions but be sure to check.
Firing a personal injury attorney isn’t an easy choice. You need an expert opinion. Carpenter, Zuckerman and Rowley have a reputation for being the attorney other attorneys turn to when a case is proving difficult. Trust in CZR to help you understand your options and whether firing your current attorney is truly your best move. Call 1-888-CZR-FIRST for a free consultation.
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