Can I Fire My Attorney?
Yes. Under Florida law and the rules of the Florida Bar a client has the right to fire their personal injury attorney. The reasoning is that the client is the employer of the attorney and has the right to choose his or her attorney. And the client is able to fire an attorney in which they are dissatisfied or have lost confidence in that attorney.
When we take calls from clients unhappy with their attorney, it is generally attorneys associated with large advertising law firms. Feeling lost in the crowd at the big advertiser law firms, anyone? One such client who signed on with us from a large law firm relayed the following account. I asked him:
Q. What does your attorney at the other law firm say about the status of your case?
A. Nothing, I have never heard from an attorney on my case.
Q. How long have you been with that law firm?
A. Six months.
Q. You have been with that law firm for six months and have never talked with an attorney?
Q. Have you been talking with the paralegal on your case?
A. No, I have never talked with a paralegal either.
Q. In six months who is it you have talked to at that other firm?
A. The receptionist—when she’s not answering 10 other lines.
Before that client signed with us he told me in our first phone call, “You have talked with me now for 25 minutes and that is more than all the phone calls from that other law firm.”
How Do I Know When It Is Time to Switch Attorneys and Law Firms?
- Nothing is happening on your case. Does it seem like every time you talk with the attorney that the case has not moved forward any at all?
- No communication. There is no communication for weeks or months on your case. A very bad sign that your case is likely laying dormant.
- You have to explain the circumstances of your case every time you call. This is one of the most telling facts about the level of involvement and care not being given to your case. If the attorney, or paralegal, needs explaining again and again the facts of your case, run.
- The attorney keeps asking for information you already have provided. Another indication that not enough attention is being paid to your case.
- The attorney starts telling you how much you are going to settle for. This is a big no-no in the world of Florida Bar ethics, yet we constantly take calls from potential clients from other law firms who say the attorney is telling the client when and for how much the case will be done. That is not the way it works. The attorney is supposed to be working for you, not the other way around. The client is the decision maker, not the attorney, when it comes to concluding a case.
Can I Get a Second Opinion About My Personal Injury Case and Attorney?
Yes, you have every right under Florida law and the rules of the Florida Bar to seek out another attorney for a second opinion. Just as if you received an opinion from a physician that you were unsure of, you would get a second opinion to see if there is agreement about the course of action and direction for your best interests.
If any of the above factors 1 through 5 above are happening to you, it is time to seek out a second opinion. None of the failings above should be tolerated by a person who stands to make money off of your personal injury case. Demand excellence and you will get excellence. Allow indifference and you will get an indifferent result.
Does It Cost Me More to Switch Attorneys?
This is a very good question and an important one. If a prior law firm has expended costs, they notify us of those costs and any costs are put in line at the end of the case for payment if there is a recovery. We work on contingency as does every Florida personal injury attorney I have met in 25 years. This means that if the case is unsuccessful, then the client does not owe anything—not even costs. If a prior law firm has placed extensive work in a case they may claim a lien against any recovery. When a new client fires their former attorney—and then we make a recovery for that client—we make sure that the client pays no more than the one fee they would for one attorney. In other words, switching to a new attorney will not cost you more if you switch to our law firm—even if the prior law firm says they have costs and even if they say they have a lien for work performed up to the time of their discharge.
In fact, the Florida Bar holds that it is the ethical responsibility of the fired attorney to assist the former client to move forward, and to provide information to the new attorney to help the client. In our practice we have signed and successfully represented numerous new clients who fired their former attorney. When this happens we contact that prior law firm and advise them of the switch and we request all information about the case so that we are not re-creating the wheel or spending costs for information already obtained. Typically what we find with “cross-over” cases is that the prior law firm had been deficient in obtaining information they should have gathered. Therefore, we do not take the word of a prior attorney that information they provide is complete—we assume it is not. That is our starting point.
The good news for you is that if you are unhappy with your current attorney you can fire that attorney. It is completely your choice. You have the right to a second opinion. If you choose to change from that law firm to our law firm we make sure that the outcome on a recovery will costs you no more than if you signed with us originally. If you are unhappy with the way you are being treated or the slow pace of your case, call us today to discuss your situation. A conference to discuss your case is always free.
We Are Ready.