Can you fire your personal injury lawyer?
Yes, even if you’re paying with a contingent fee!
But… keep these things in mind before you fire your personal injury lawyer.
First, what are contingent fees? The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct defines contingent fees as a “fee contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the lawyer is rendering service”. This means the lawyer cannot and does not collect a fee for providing representation for your personal injury law case unless a certain result is obtained. In other words, client pays nothing unless the case is won and money is paid.
Now, back to answering the question, “Can you fire your personal injury lawyer?” A good lawyer-client relationship is important for a successful settlement in a personal injury law case. Personal injury law cases can take months and sometimes years to settle and therefore it is important to have good communication, trust and respect from the lawyer and the client. But sometimes these client – personal injury lawyer relationships just don’t work out for a variety of reasons. Personality conflict, misunderstandings, or even poor communication. Whatever the issue is, don’t make a quick decision to fire your personal injury lawyer until you have considered the following.
I always recommend that clients make an effort to work with their current personal injury lawyer before making a decision to fire them. Make an appointment for a face-to-face meeting with your current personal injury lawyer to discuss the issues and try to reach a resolution. The issue may be as simple as a misunderstanding or just a breakdown in communication.
A face-to-face meeting will give you the opportunity to speak with your personal injury lawyer, inform him or her of what is bothering you, and will give you both a chance to work things out. If this fails, or your personal injury lawyer refuses to meet with you, always seek a second opinion from another personal injury lawyer and speak to them about your case and ask them to assist you with a decision to ensure the best outcome for your personal injury law case.
The personal injury lawyer you want to fire is entitled to be paid for services he/she provided and may place a lien or make a claim against your personal injury law case to make sure payment is made. Personal injury lawyers do this to make sure they are reimbursed a fair and reasonable amount of money for the time he/she spent on your personal injury law case, this is perfectly legal and acceptable. Before making a decision to fire your personal injury lawyer, read the contract you signed with your personal injury lawyer, it should discuss whether cost for services provided will be a percentage of the settlement amount of your personal injury law case, also known as a contingent fee, or if payment is based on an hourly amount of time the personal injury lawyer spent on your case.
If the personal injury lawyer you fire has provided a large amount of time working on your case, they are entitled to be paid for your personal injury case and your new personal injury lawyer may not be willing to take your case if he/she has to give up a large amount of money to your previous personal injury lawyer. Or worse yet, you may be asked to pay an additional percentage to the new personal injury lawyer, which means less money in your pocket when your personal injury law case settles. The fee splitting between the two personal injury lawyers will be resolved by the them and is not your concern or responsibility. Let the two personal injury lawyers resolve all of the fee splitting and reimbursement for payment issues.
Don’t be quick to fire your personal injury lawyer, first get a second opinion from another personal injury lawyer. Ask that the two personal injury lawyers to discuss what fees can be worked out. The previous personal injury lawyer may just want to be reimbursed for all out-of-pocket expenses incurred for your personal injury law case. Remember that if your current personal injury lawyer has done quite a bit of work, there may be very little money form the settlement to pay a new personal injury lawyer.
Each personal injury law case is unique, so the details of each case will dictate if an agreement with your previous personal injury lawyer can be reached. If an agreement cannot be reached with the previous personal injury lawyer, your new personal injury lawyer may advise you to file a fee dispute with the Texas Bar. You should not hire a new personal injury lawyer until you reach an acceptable fee agreement with the previous personal injury lawyer.
The best plan is to consider the items discussed above before you fire your personal injury lawyer. Otherwise, you may be faced with paying additional fees that reduce the money in your pocket or even worse, you may be left with not being able to hire a new personal injury lawyer.
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