Firing Your Personal Injury Attorney in California – What You Need to Know
People looking to address injuries through a legal case need to hire personal injury lawyers for pursuing their case in a judicial court. These injuries can either be physical or psychological and are usually inflicted due to the negligence of a company, government agency, another person, or other entity.
However, some clients feel that their existing legal representatives are not able to represent their interests effectively. In this article, we discuss how to fire your personal injury in Sacramento, California and what can happen after you do it.
Can You Fire A Personal Injury Attorney in California?
The short answer is, yes. If you are unhappy about how your personal injury lawyer has proceeded with your case, then you have every right to fire him or her anytime you want to. Regardless of whether it is a couple of days after you had hired him, on the night of an existing trial, or a month or a year later, you can fire personal injury attorney in California.
It would be best if you remembered that you and your lawyer are partners in your case. This is why it is vital for both of you to get along and respect each other.
To pursue a case successfully, you not only need to have an open line of communication but also have considerable confidence in your lawyer. However, if you feel that any of these things are missing, you have every right to fire him or her without hesitation and get a second opinion from another personal injury lawyer.
How to Fire a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney
Although you have every right to fire your personal injury lawyer, it’s best to take certain precautions to minimize any potential conflict.
Review Your Legal Contract
First of all, it’s essential to review the contract you made with your lawyer for legal services. You need to see if there is a provision that relates to the termination of the client-attorney relationship. If the contract contains a reasonable procedure for the termination of your relationship, then it’s best to follow it.
Hire a Second Attorney
After reviewing your contract and seeking the termination of your relationship with the client, it’s important to hire another attorney as a replacement. It would be best if you did it as soon as you realize that firing your current attorney is necessary for the advancement of your case. When you hire another attorney to handle your case while you fire the previous one, you will be safe from having to handle legal issues on your own.
Consider Writing a Formal Letter
During the termination of your contract with the lawyer, it’s best to write a formal letter to him or her. The letter should explain that you are ending the client-attorney relationship. You should make sure that the letter is concise and states that you are terminating the relationship.
At the same time, you should request your previous lawyer to give all the files related to your case to either you or your new lawyer. It’s best to deliver this letter in a certified mail, and it should include the relevant contact information of the second attorney. Therefore, it must consist of an office address, email address, and phone number.
Lastly, if you have submitted any advanced payment, then you should also mention the dues and request for the refund of the remaining balance. However, if you had submitted a non-refundable retainer to the lawyer, then you will probably not receive any amount from the retainer payment.
Notify the Court
Following the previous steps, you must consider notifying the relevant court about the substitution or withdrawal of your previous counsel. This step is necessary when your legal case is still pending before the court.
Furthermore, you should submit the notification simultaneously or immediately after you have notified your existing lawyer in writing about the termination. Most of the time, either your new lawyer will file a “motion for substitution of counsel,” or the previous attorney will request a “motion to withdraw” as your legal counsel.
Payment of the Previous Lawyer’s Fees
If you have not paid fees, expenses, and other costs to your personal injury attorney yet, then you should try to settle the undisputed outstanding amount immediately. Your previous lawyer may retain the files for your case until you pay the remaining amount to him or her. However, this can vary according to the language of your contract with the attorney and depends on which state you live in. Still, the attorney may have the right to file small claims actions against you if you fail to pay the outstanding balance.
Moreover, the personal injury attorney you fired also has the right to submit an attorney’s lien in court. This means that if the lawyer pursues this lien, then s/he will be able to recover any unpaid costs from the definitive judgment of your legal case.
Reasons for Firing Your Personal Injury Lawyer in California
You can have various reasons for firing your personal injury attorney California and hire another one as a replacement. Below are some of the situations where it is a good idea to fire your personal injury lawyer. It would help if you considered changing your attorney when you face any one of these issues.
You Doubt the Attorney’s Competence
Personal injury cases can be essential for your wellbeing. You may be contesting a personal injury case to receive the compensation needed for your recovery from the damage. On many occasions, personal injury cases turn into million-dollar issues.
Therefore, a personal injury attorney’s job is to pursue your legal case effectively and make sure that you receive your due compensation for the damage you received. If the lawyer cannot conclude your legal claim to a satisfactory result and you doubt the attorney’s competency, then you can consider firing him or her.
However, since the law is not your area of expertise, it’s essential to be careful while judging a lawyer’s competence. If you have grave concerns about the progress of your case, you should discuss it directly with your lawyer. Ask them to meet you and produce your case file. Nevertheless, you need to use your common sense and make the judgment call yourself based on the response of your lawyer.
You Have a Poor Relationship with Your Attorney
Although it’s natural for personal injury clients to seek emotional support from their personal injury attorneys, not all good lawyers are as warm and friendly clients expect them to be. A personal injury attorney’s job is not to be your friend. However, s/he is responsible for representing your legal case effectively and concluding it to a satisfactory end.
Therefore, if you dislike your attorney as a person, but trust him or her, and have faith in their ability, then emotional support is a secondary need. However, if you feel that your bad relationship with your lawyer is stopping you from communicating your needs and concerns effectively, then you can consider firing your personal injury lawyer.
Your Personal Injury Attorney Does Not Return Your Calls
One of the most common reasons for firing legal personal injury lawyers is attorneys not replying to a client’s phone calls. If you feel that the client is ignoring you on purpose and isn’t sincerely putting effort into your case, you should bring this problem up personally.
This may happen if the lawyer is understaffed or does not have the resources to stay in touch with you. However, if s/he persistently doesn’t reply to your phone calls, messages, or emails and is affecting your legal case, then you should consider firing your personal injury lawyer.
Does Firing a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer and Hiring Another One Cost More?
When you fire a personal injury attorney and hire another one as a replacement, it will not cost you more. You only need to pay the fee for a single attorney. After your personal injury case has been resolved, the fee of the attorney can be divided among the law firms that represented you during the legal trial.
This procedure is based on “quantum meruit,” which means that the firm will get paid for the amount of work they did on your legal case. In a situation where your first attorney did the majority of the work in your case, then he will receive a larger sum of money at the conclusion of your case.
Similarly, in cases where both lawyers the same amount of work, the fee is split equally among them. Nevertheless, you don’t need to be concerned about the attorney fees will be divided as the respective law firms will figure that out by themselves.
Personal injury cases can have a long-term effect on your life. Therefore, if you have lost confidence in your existing attorney, then it’s necessary to ask for a second legal opinion and consider someone else for the job.
Our legal team at Phoong Law Corp has taken over numerous cases handled initially by other law firms and can help make switching simple and stress-free. Contact us and we’ll schedule a free consultation to provide you with options.