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How To Fire Your Personal Injury Attorney

How To Fire Your Personal Injury Attorney

It would be nice if personal injury attorneys and their clients always got along. But disputes do erupt from time to time, and sometimes the only way to resolve them is to fire your lawyer. You are the client, and your attorney works for you. 

That means, yes, you have the right to fire your lawyer, although you might still owe them some money.

Why You Might Want To Change Lawyers

There are a hundred good reasons why someone might want to fire their lawyer – and a thousand bad reasons. Below is a list of potentially good reasons.

  • Lack of communication;
  • Lack of progress;
  • Disagreements on case strategy;
  • Lack of transparency;
  • Unprofessional behavior;
  • Conflicts of interest;
  • Lack of expertise;
  • Changes in your personal situation; or
  • Consistently missing deadlines or court dates.

You can even fire your lawyer if you don’t trust them for reasons you can’t explain–a gut feeling, for example.

The Transition Process, Step by Step

Firing your lawyer isn’t just a matter of handing out a pink slip. Take the following steps:

  • Carefully review the contingency fee agreement you signed with your lawyer. If the conditions for firing your lawyer are even remotely reasonable, do your best to comply with them.
  • Document all of your reasons for firing your old lawyer. Technically, you don’t have to have a reason, but it’s still best to justify your decision.
  • Consult with another personal injury lawyer about taking on your case if you fire your old lawyer. Talk to your potential new attorney about the consequences of changing lawyers in the midst of your particular case.
  • Consider timing, as it will take your new lawyer a while to get up to speed on your case. Are you facing any legal deadlines in the meantime? Is the statute of limitations deadline looming, for example? If so, this might not be the best time to fire your lawyer.
  • Once you make up your mind, hire your new lawyer. Don’t just assume that the lawyer will take your case. Confirm that your new lawyer is on board before you fire your old lawyer. Sign the new contingency fee agreement only after you have thoroughly read it and agree with its terms. Pay particular attention to the total amount you’ll be paying your lawyer, as you’ll probably have to pay your old lawyer something (see below for a discussion of this matter).
  • Notify your old lawyer in writing. Be polite but firm and unyielding. Ask them to transfer your entire case file to you.
  • Arrange a meeting with your old lawyer to address any outstanding issues or questions, especially concerning the payment of fees.
  • Once you receive your case files, review them and confirm that they are accurate and complete. Copy what you need and transfer the entire file to your new lawyer.
  • If you have already filed a lawsuit, inform the court and the opposing lawyer that you have fired your lawyer by filing the appropriate forms, as the court may require.
  • Brief your new lawyer on all aspects of your case and answer their questions.
  • Discuss financial arrangements with your new attorney, particularly how the contingency fee will be handled between your former and new lawyers.

Keep abreast of the transfer process between your former lawyer and your new lawyer. Pay attention to any matter that might slip through the cracks, such as deadlines or critical case developments.

Fee Disputes

Personal injury lawyers typically charge on a contingency fee basis. Suppose your old lawyer has agreed to one-third of whatever amount you end up winning, and your new lawyer wants to charge you the same one-third rate. Does that mean you have to pay two-thirds of any recovery? 

No. Florida has established guidelines concerning the maximum contingency fee in a personal injury case. If the total contingency fee exceeds these limits, for both attorneys put together, a court might treat them as excessive. This possibility might discourage a potential new lawyer from taking your case, however.

Try to negotiate your fee arrangement with your outgoing lawyer. If you cannot reach an agreement and your dispute goes to court, the court will probably have you pay an amount that is proportionate to the work they put into your case before you fired them. This is known as quantum meruit.

Set Up a Free Initial Consultation

It is normally quite easy to schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Some lawyers, however, are reluctant to take on a client who wants to fire their previous legal representation.

With a little persistence, however, you should be able to manage it. Before you finalize the date and time of your consultation, be sure to tell your potential new lawyer that you want to fire your old attorney.

Contact the Tampa Personal Injury Law Firm of Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a Personal Injury lawyer in Tampa today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.

We proudly serve Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, and its surrounding areas:

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
601 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 223-6200

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
600 Bypass Dr Suite 224-D, Clearwater, FL 33764
(727) 493-4418

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg Office
111 2nd Ave NE Suite 350, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 314-5988

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
5006 Trouble Creek Rd Unit #200, Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 910-5060

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Lakeland Office
1543 Lakeland Hills Blvd Suite 18, Lakeland, FL 33805
(863) 251-6196

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