Can I Fire My Lawyer?
Yes, you can fire your personal injury lawyer but it might cost you depending on the reasons for saying “You’re fired”. There are number of factors that you should consider before taking the drastic step of terminating your relationship with your personal injury attorney.
At Wolfson & Leon, we have been helping people with personal injury cases since 1963. In that time, we have taken over the representation of clients who for one reason or another had a prior attorney. Over the years, our personal injury lawyers in Miami have heard a wide variety of reasons for why people fire their attorney. Some reasons are valid, others not so much.
So, if you find yourself in a situation where you are considering whether to fire your personal injury lawyer you should fully understand what your exposure is in terms of attorney fees and costs.Our Best Advice? See If You Can Work It Out - Seriously
Miami personal injury lawyers at Wolfson & Leon are contacted by personal injury victims were not satisfied with their current lawyer. The first question that we ask is whether they can work it out with their lawyer. If they can work out their difficulties, then it is probably better in the long run.
The question is why do you want to fire your attorney? In our experience, the number one reason clients want to fire their attorneys is because of a failure to communicate on the part of the lawyer. The lawyer may fail to return a telephone call or to clearly explain what is going on with your lawsuit.
We always suggest that the client requested a meeting or telephone conference with their attorney to discuss their concerns. We recommend that clients clear, direct and respectful in discussing their concerns. We also suggest either sending a letter or an email requesting this conference. If the attorney still fails to respond, then at least the client knows that they did everything that they could. If you have a meeting with your attorney and you both cannot reach an understanding, then it is probably time to be in a search for a new lawyer.
There is also the possibility that you begin to have serious doubts about your lawyer’s abilities. There are occasions when an attorney appears to be unprepared or uninterested in pursuing your case. On more than a few occasions we have heard about lawyers made unrealistic promises and guarantees at the beginning of the case only to fold for the first low offer. This highlights the reasons why you should always research and investigate your potential attorney. The only thing that advertising can guarantee is that the attorney spent money on advertising. It is really up to you to look at the attorneys’ website, Google reviews, recent results and cases.How Hard Is It to Find a New Lawyer?
Looking for a new attorney for your personal injury case can be difficult. Lawyers will be careful with potential new clients that have fired, or are about to fire, their existing attorney. While the reason for firing the prior attorney might be entirely valid, new lawyers will still be cautious because of the potential that you, the client, was part of the reason for the attorney-client relationship disintegrating.
There is also the possibility that the prior attorney may have screwed up the case. Finally the overriding concern for a personal injury lawyer in taking a case that a prior attorney worked on is going to be the issue of the attorney fee. The prior attorney may have a claim for fees based on quantum meruit – meaning the value of the work provided.
The new attorney could be faced with having to take a lesser fee because of the amount owed to the prior attorney. If the new attorney takes a full attorney fee, you as the client may not want to settle because of the amount that you would need to pay to the prior attorney as well as your new attorney. So, the question comes down to whether you have to pay the fired attorney, and if so, how much will you owe?Do I Still Owe an Attorney Fee to the Fired Lawyer?
If you have good cause when you fire your lawyer, you may not owe any attorney fees. Examples of what “good cause” means are:
- Ethical violations such as a conflict of interest
- Criminal violations such as soliciting perjury
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Trust account violations
- Solicitation to defraud insurance company
The following examples “may” constitute good cause and would depend on a case-by-case analysis:
- The failure to move your case fast enough
- Lack of communication
- A difference of opinion as to the value of your case
If the fired attorney wants to protect his or her rights to a fee, they will file what is called a charging lien in the court file and provide a copy to the insurance company. If your new attorney or the insurance company fail to honor that lien, then they might be responsible to pay the fired attorney.
When it comes time to resolve your personal injury case it will be necessary to either resolve the fired attorneys charging lien by agreement or by court hearing where the judge can decide how much of a fee the former attorney is entitled to based on the work that he or she performed.What If My Lawyer Fired Me?
If your lawyer “fires” you – meaning that they turn your case down and withdraw from representing you – then it is highly unlikely that you will owe that former attorney an attorney fee. The only possible exception for this would be if the attorney had “good cause” for withdrawing. If the client proposed unethical or illegal actions in their case, the attorney would have good cause for withdrawing and could still pursue a charging lien for the value of the work that they put into the case.Miami Personal Injury Lawyers
As previously stated, if you are unhappy with your personal injury lawyer then you should set up a meeting and have a heart-to-heart conversation with your attorney. A good attorney-client relationship is built on trust and good communication. We always recommend to potential clients who are unsatisfied with their current attorney to do everything that they can to repair the relationship because in most cases firing your attorney causes additional problems. If you have done everything that you can with your attorney and you are still not satisfied, then you should definitely look for an attorney that you can work with.
At Wolfson & Leon, we offer full legal representation for personal injury victims in South Florida. We also accept requests for co-counsel and referrals from other attorneys for the purposes of litigation and/or trial. At our personal injury law office in Miami we employ cutting-edge technology and case management software so that we can make sure that our clients are informed on a regular basis and that their cases are moved forward as quickly as possible. We strive to return all calls within 24 hours. In addition we are available by telephone or email on a 24/7 basis.
We handle all types of personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis in accordance with Bar Rules and Florida law. You never owe any attorney fee until and unless we make a recovery for you. We pay all the costs for your case and only recover those costs at the end of the case. Our managing attorney, Jonah Wolfson, is a bilingual wrongful death lawyer and personal injury attorney in Miami. Our personal injury legal team is ready to help you right now. Call us at (305) 285-1115 for your free consultation.
Wolfson & Leon is located at 3399 SW 3d Avenue, Miami, FL and we are also available by appointment at:
Wolfson & Leon, 110 SE 6th St #1717, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301;
Wolfson & Leon, 515 N. Flagler Dr., Suite P–300, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.
You can also reach us at our toll-free number 1-(855) 982-2067.
Our personal injury lawyers proudly serve the good folks of South Florida including the neighborhoods, towns and cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Broward County, Miami Dade County, Palm Beach County, Boca Raton, Hialeah, Doral, Weston, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Miami Gardens, Kendall, Miramar, Wellington, Homestead, Jupiter, North Miami, South Miami, Homestead and Miami Beach.