Why You Should Fire Your Current Personal Injury Attorney
You should think of your lawyer or attorney as an investment in your freedom. Legal bills may be a necessary pain at points in our lives, but they’re nothing compared to what can happen without the advice of someone who knows the legal landscape.
What happens, though, when you feel your attorney has dropped the ball?
Just as a doctor or physician is required to provide you with a certain level of care, a lawyer is expected to provide you with a level of professional legal guidance and service when a lawsuit is filed.
Can I Fire My Personal Injury Lawyer?
Yes, you can. At any point, while your case is pending or is being processed, you retain the legal authority to dismiss your attorney.
To do this, you need to put it in writing. Send your lawyer a letter clearly stating that you are ending the professional agreement and that all work on your personal injury case should immediately end.
Key things to remember include having another lawyer already lined up to take your case, and securing all your case files or having them made available to your new personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible.
Be aware, though, that unless you have another payment arrangement in place, you’ll most likely be required to pay for the services your former lawyer has already performed on your behalf, up to the moment of termination.
What Are Some Potential Consequences If My Attorney Fails?
If your attorney fails to adequately represent you, it can lead to various consequences, including:
Loss of Legal Rights: Inadequate representation may result in missed deadlines, leading to the loss of certain legal rights or opportunities. For example, the statute of limitations in Texas for personal injury cases is typically two years. If your attorney fails to file your claim on time, you could be barred from filing your case.
Financial Loss: Poor representation could result in unfavorable settlements or outcomes, causing financial harm.
Damaged Case: Ineffective legal representation may weaken your case, reducing the chances of a successful outcome in court.
Ethical Violations: If your attorney breaches ethical standards, it could lead to professional consequences for them and potential harm to your case. An attorney’s ethics must be beyond reproach.
Strained Client-Attorney Relationship: Poor representation can strain the relationship between you and your attorney, impacting communication and trust.
If you have talked to your current attorney about your concerns and still don’t feel confident they are a competent lawyer, it may be in your best interest to change lawyers. You must be confident that your lawyer is successfully representing your best interest.
Can I Sue My Lawyer for Legal Malpractice?
Although you do have that option, please know that not all instances of dissatisfaction with a lawyer meet the threshold of legal malpractice. In fact, actually proving legal malpractice is often a difficult thing to do.
As with a successful medical malpractice case, there are certain things that must be proven for you to win a legal malpractice case. These qualifications include:
- Proving the existence of an attorney-client relationship
- Establishing that your lawyer did not provide you with a basic level of legal competency
- Proving that if it weren’t for your lawyer acting – or failing to act – in a certain way, you would have won the case
- Illustrating how your lawyer’s negligence harmed you.
Despite what you may feel initially, actually proving all of the above qualifiers to the satisfaction of a judge is an uphill battle. We’re not saying it’s impossible to prevail. But, the odds are probably not in your favor.
Can I Sue My Lawyer If the Settlement I’m Offered is Lower Than What I Expected?
We understand the level of frustration when a settlement amount is less than what you were told to expect. Unfortunately, though, that alone is not justification for a legal malpractice case.
If you feel that strongly about it, your best course of action is to not take the settlement and seek the opinion of another lawyer. If they feel you’re being wrongly advised, consider changing lawyers and pursuing a different settlement amount.
How Much Can I Recover In A Legal Malpractice Claim?
The amount of damages you can recover depends largely upon the unique factors of your individual case.
You may be able to recover what you would have been awarded if you had won your case, along with any out of pocket legal fees for the negligent lawyer and the costs associated with having to hire a new lawyer.
What Level of Service Should I Expect from My Lawyer?
We keep making analogies between doctors and lawyers because the two fields are so similar.
Just as a doctor is duty-bound to provide you with a certain level of medical care, there are rules governing the behavior of a lawyer, including:
- Giving you competent legal guidance or advice
- Remaining in contact with you about your case
- Making sure you’re kept in the loop with challenges and developments while your case proceeds through the legal system
- Ensuring you have all relevant information so you’re able to make informed decisions about your case
- Providing you with an estimated cost for their legal services.
These are just the basic services you should expect when you hire a lawyer. You’d be justified in considering hiring a different lawyer if the first one fails to provide any of the above services. It is important to have a good working relationship with your legal counsel. If you feel your personal injury claim is not being handled properly, it can damage the attorney-client relationship.
How Do I File A Complaint Against My Lawyer in Texas?
Even if you decide not to file a legal malpractice claim against your lawyer, you can still file a complaint. To do so, simply visit the online site for the State Bar of Texas.
If you’re thinking of hiring a particular lawyer and want to find out if previous complaints have been filed against him or her, you can find that information as well.
How Can I Choose the Right Lawyer?
A personal injury law firm often provides the opportunity for potential clients to have a free consultation with them before hiring them. This is your chance to ask questions about their experience and how they do business. How do they communicate? Do they return phone calls promptly? Do you feel confident in their legal knowledge about your case? Look for what others are saying about an attorney’s ability and the firm’s legal practice.
Asking the right questions will help you find the right fit. Your personal injury lawyer should be your best advocate after what is often a life-changing event.