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Can I Switch Attorneys for My Personal Injury Case?

can i switch attorneys for my personal injury case
Photo Credit: Mischelle Davis

Should You Hire A New Lawyer To Handle Your Personal Injury Claim?

Davis Law Group often receives phone calls from car accident victims who are unhappy with their current attorney.

The source of your 'buyer’s remorse' could be caused by a number of factors such as:

  1. A lack of clear communication during the early stages of your case;
  2. Lack of professionalism from your attorney or the firm's legal staff;
  3. An attorney's lack of experience with your specific legal issue. 

The good news is that in most cases, there is nothing stopping you from switching attorneys. However, you need to understand a few important things before you begin searching for a new lawyer.

Three Important Factors to Consider Before Changing Your Lawyer

1. Liens

Once you hire a personal injury attorney and he or she begins working on your case, you may have entered into a contractual agreement allowing the attorney to be paid for the work performed. Although that contract cannot force you to keep your attorney, it does give your current attorney the right to be paid for the work they’ve done.

If you decide to fire your current attorney and hire a different one, the previous attorney may also file a lien against your case. The lien may require you to pay your former attorney the reasonable costs incurred on your case. The lien may also require you to pay your former attorney a reasonable amount for work performed. The amount of the obligation may depend on the terms of your fee agreement. Often times there is an issue as to the reasonableness of the lien amount. 

When Davis Law Group takes over a case from your former attorney, we will review the lien amount and determine whether the work performed was necessary or reasonable, and also whether the amount being claimed for the work is appropriate. In many cases Davis Law Group will negotiate the amount of the lien on your behalf to make sure you are not overpaying your former attorney.  

The more time that your current attorney spends working on the case, the more costs they are likely to incur as a result of that work. The more time spent with your current attorney also means the more work your attorney has performed, and hence a higher lien amount. If you are considering switching attorneys, then you should do it sooner rather than later.  The longer you wait to switch attorneys could result in a very high lien asserted by your current attorney. A high attorney lien could dissuade a new attorney from taking over the case. 

2. Mistakes Made by Previous Lawyer

As you may already know, pursuing a personal injury claim – or any sort of legal claim– involves a lot of work. If the attorney currently handling your claim has made a mistake in your case then that mistake may be difficult or even impossible to fix.

Some mistakes can further complicate your case or reduce the overall value of your claim, and may discourage another attorney from taking over the case. The sooner you switch attorneys in your case, the less likelihood your attorney may have committed a serious mistake that could damage your claim. Act sooner, rather than later.

‚Äč3. Length Of Time Your Current Attorney Has Had The Case.

This could be directly tied to the previous two factors that we’ve discussed – lien amount and any potential mistakes made by your current attorney – but does not necessarily have to be tied into these factors.

Regardless of the potential cost of an attorney lien or any potential mistakes made by that attorney, the length of time that another attorney spends working on a personal injury case can be an important factor for an attorney when considering whether or not to take over a case.

For example, allowing your current attorney to litigate your case for several months and then attempting to switch attorneys a few months before the trial date may not be the wisest decision.  Your new attorney may be seriously disadvantaged by having to try your case in court on such short notice.  Every case is unique so make sure you discuss this potential problem with your new attorney before making the decision to switch.

Act Sooner Rather Than Later

The significance of each of these factors may vary between different lawyers. The good news is that there is always a chance that an attorney will be willing to take over a personal injury case if the accident victim is unhappy with their current attorney.

If you are unhappy with your current attorney and decide that you want to consider finding another lawyer for your personal injury case, the best way to minimize any further headache is to do it as quickly as possible. The potential negative effect of each of the factors discussed above can be minimized by acting sooner rather than later.

Contact Davis Law Group

If you or a loved one has been injured and are unhappy with what you have experienced with your current attorney, we may be able to help. Please fill out the contact form on this page or call our office at 206-727-4000 to discuss your legal options with our award-winning staff.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.