You have the right to terminate the attorney-client relationship. You, as the client, can end it anytime because this relationship should be based on voluntary and mutual contracts. You are in fact the employer and the personal injury attorney is the employee. So yes, you can “fire” your personal injury lawyer and hire another.
If your personal injury lawyer has acted in an unethical manner, it is good to know that every state has a grievance process where you can file a complaint. Almost all State Bars offer resolution services in the event that disputes arise between you and your personal injury lawyer. These services are of notable help especially when it comes to fee disputes.
The real question does not lie on why you should terminate him. You can do so for no or little reason. Still, you may want to examine why you want to terminate your personal injury lawyer. Is he/she not communicating with you about the status of your case? Is he/she acting in an unprofessional manner by appearing to court or meetings late and unprepared? Is he showing incompetency by failing to know and research about this specified area of law? Is he/she not handling the case as you wish or placing you undue pressure?
If you had an argument with your personal injury lawyer that was not especially serious, you may want to discover a common ground with your personal injury lawyer. If he did not meet your expectations, see if there is a reasonable explanation for his/her behavior. If you fire a personal injury lawyer during your claim, you may lose valuable time, money and effort in trying to incorporate a new personal injury attorney into a very full-grown case. It is thus very advisable to consider if you are indeed making a wise decision in terminating your contract with your personal injury lawyer.
Talk to a different personal injury lawyer before terminating your present one. The other personal injury lawyer can advise you on whether you should try to patch things up with your current personal injury lawyer. Otherwise, the new personal injury attorney must be willing to work out the details of your case with your prior personal injury lawyer. True to any employee, you cannot terminate your contract with a personal injury attorney without paying for their services. You may be responsible for paying the personal injury lawyer back the expenses he endured in working on your case up to the moment of termination. The personal injury lawyer may also tabulate his hours and ask for reimbursement for the expenses he has put in the case. In most cases, the personal injury lawyer will be entitled to a part of your award once the case is resolved if he represented you on a “contingent” fee basis. Therefore, you still have to pay for his time even if you terminate him.
Therefore it is recommended that you give the decision of terminating your contact with a personal injury lawyer the time and detail it deserves as it can cause unnecessary delays and complications for your claim.
Please follow this link to return to Personal Injury F.A.Q's