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Can I Change My Lawyer If I My Personal Injury Case Is Pending?

Written by
Abraham Jaros
|
Updated on Wednesday, Nov 22, 2023

When after an accident you hire a lawyer, you basically put your trust and life into that person’s hands, so it is critical that the attorney working for you is someone you trust and believe in one-hundred percent. If you find now that for any reason you are not happy with your current lawyer, the lawyer you hired right after the accident, you should consider hiring a new lawyer immediately.

In my over 40 years of being an attorney, who has specialized in the field of personal injury litigation, I have heard the same questions from many potential clients.

They had an accident. They were injured. They hired a lawyer. They are now very unhappy with that lawyer. When I explain to them that they can change lawyers at any time and for any reason without any penalties or additional costs or fees, their answer is always the same: "Oh, I didn’t know I could change my lawyer after I hired the lawyer!" I have found that people may be unhappy with the lawyer they first hired, which was almost always immediately after their accident and while they are still recuperating from their injuries, for many reasons.

What Causes People to Be Unhappy With Their Attorney?

Most often, they complain that they can never reach or get to speak to the lawyer that they hired. They may speak to only a secretary, a receptionist or maybe to a paralegal. If they more fortunate, they may speak to a junior associate who most often turns out to be nothing more than a message taker who will have to speak to someone else and then promise to get back to you with the information you need.

But you never have any contact with and can never reach the lawyer you hired or to a lawyer who actually takes responsibility for, and knows you and your case, no matter how many times you call the office and leave messages. At times you call and call and no one ever calls you back to answer your questions or concerns.

You find that you are not being advised of the status of your case and the progress it is making. You want to know, why is my case taking so long? Why has a year or more gone by from when I hired you and you still have not settled my case or even told me that you started my lawsuit?

Because you are injured and out of work, money usually becomes a very serious issue, but no one speaks to you about when the case will finally be over, if it will settle and what it is worth.

When you are suffering and trying to recuperate from your injuries after an accident, and after you have hired a lawyer to represent you in your personal injury case, these are not issues or problems that you should be adding to your life, which is certainly difficult enough already.

Your lawyer should be responsive to your concerns and needs. Ask yourself:

  • When I was injured and looking for a lawyer, how did I get to hire the one that I hired and that I am now so unhappy with?
  • Did you interview many lawyers before hiring this one and see which one you thought was best for your case? Probably not. In my experience after an accident most people hire the first lawyer who meets with and speaks to them.
  • How did you actually get to select and hire this particular lawyer? Did you know this lawyer from before? Probably not.

Many times, the lawyer was recommended by someone you knew. That someone is often a member of your family, a friend or neighbor, or you saw an ad or searched the internet.

Assume the lawyer was recommended by a member of your family, a friend or neighbor. Ask yourself, how did this person know whether this lawyer was a good personal injury lawyer or not? Reputable or not? Successful or not? Most times, people who recommend lawyers just know that they had a case with that lawyer. But-how experienced and successful is this lawyer with similar cases to yours and even more importantly, how are you being treated by this lawyer with your case?

If you found this lawyer from an advertisement, you need to ask yourself: what did you really know about this lawyer and the firm you hired other than that they have nice ads? If you found this lawyer from an internet search, then you may ask yourself the same questions: What was your decision to hire this lawyer or firm based on?

The New Yorker magazine many years ago ran a cartoon that was right on point. It showed a computer screen and keyboard with one dog typing on the keyboard saying to another dog watching him type, “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog." This says it all.

You searched on the internet for a lawyer after you were injured, but what research did you put in before actually hiring this lawyer or firm?

I hear about lawyers actually having desks inside doctors’ and chiropractors’ offices where they try to solicit injured patients who appear for medical treatment.

I also hear of people being referred to their present lawyer either from their ambulance driver on the way to the emergency room, from a doctor or nurse inside the emergency room or hospital; or someone you do not know may call you at home and says that they know you need help after your accident and that they can help refer you to doctors and lawyers. I have even seen and heard about lawyers who just walk into your hospital room uninvited by you or your family and offer to represent you.

Now that you find yourself in the middle of your case and you are unhappy with your present lawyer, what can you do and what do you need to know? The good news is that you can change lawyers at any time and for any reason without any penalties or additional costs or fees.

People are always afraid to change lawyers as they ask: Will I have to pay you and also my first lawyer a fee? The answer is no! Personal injury lawyers’ fees are generally 1/3rd of your recovery and that is all you will ever pay. Your first lawyer and your new lawyer will work out between themselves what part of the 1/3rd legal fee each will receive. If the lawyers cannot agree then the Court will divide the fee for them based on what work each did on your case. None of this will affect your fee or your receiving your monies from your case

What Should You Do Before Hiring A Lawyer In A Personal Injury Case?

If you can, you should always visit the lawyer at his or her office. That is always a good idea as how the office looks gives you a very good idea of how successful the lawyer is. You see how large or small the firm is and how many lawyers the firm has, you see how you are treated by the receptionist when you walk in, you see how the reception area looks, you even hear how the receptionist and others speak to their clients on the phone while you are there and you can even see how busy the office is.

First, regardless of how you were referred to this lawyer, try to get the following information from the lawyer. Do not be afraid to ask the following questions:

  • Has this lawyer handled cases similar to mine? If so, what is his or her track record with these types of cases?
  • How much is my case worth, whether by way of settlement or by a verdict?
  • Should I go to work?
  • What treatment should I receive?
  • How long will it take until I know if the case is settled or goes to trial?
  • Can I settle early if I want to? How will an early settlement affect what my case is worth?
  • What lawyer will be responsible for my case at your firm?
  • If I want to speak to someone about my case, how long will it take me to reach someone?

Always look at what past clients say about the firm and its lawyers? If they have a website, look at their reviews or testimonials, their letters and emails from satisfied clients. I hear from prospective clients who are now very unhappy with their lawyer that they actually hired the first lawyer that they spoke to or met whether at the hospital, at home or at the lawyer’s office. They actually never interviewed any other lawyer after their accident before hiring their present lawyer!

This was brought home to me very vividly many years ago when my wife came home from food shopping. She had said hello to the man working in the cheese department and he seemed very sad and not like his usual happy self. When she asked what the matter was, he quietly told her that his wife had died and left him with two young daughters. That he had hired a lawyer to bring a medical malpractice case, but two and one-half years had already passed and he could not get the lawyer to talk to him, whether on the phone or at the office, to get an update on his case.

My wife explained that this is what I, her husband, had been doing for a living for many years and was actually very good at it, having achieved some measure of a reputation and success, and my wife being my biggest fan and actually having come to court to watch some of my trials. She also explained, having been married for so many years to a lawyer, that the consultation was always free and that all personal injury lawyers basically charge the same fee so that he could switch lawyers at any time, especially if he was so unhappy.

He then met with me, explained the facts of the case and why he was unhappy with his lawyer and hired my firm to represent him. We were fortunate that we were able to diligently prosecute his case so that it was concluded in less than a year with a pretrial settlement of over $2 Million. He couldn’t have been happier with the result and thanked my wife many times for her good advice. He simply did not know that he could actually fire a lawyer and hire a different lawyer after his case was started.

All personal injury attorneys provide a free consultation. Yet, I routinely get contacted by a new client about a possible personal injury case. When I call the person back, I find that they often tell me, “I already hired another lawyer." I ask, “But you just called or sent me the email 20 minutes ago. Why did you send it if you have a lawyer?" Then they say, “Oh, I sent the email to a few lawyers and another lawyer already spoke to me on the phone before you called me so I will hire that lawyer." This is a conversation that actually makes very little sense, yet I have heard it many times over the years.

After a serious injury from any type of accident, hiring the right lawyer for your case is one of the most important decisions you will ever make and will probably affect you and your family for the rest of your life. Yet, most people put much more thought and homework into what car they should buy than they do with what lawyer to hire after an accident!

Since as previously stated personal injury attorneys provide free consultations why not speak to and meet with more than just one attorney before you decide who to hire? Why not ask your questions to more than one lawyer and see what types of answers you get?

At my firm, Jaroslawicz and Jaros, of which I was a founding partner in 1980, we try to help our clients and ease their concerns. If you are deciding whether to switch lawyers and hire our firm, I can assure you will always be able to contact one of the two partners in the firm, either David Jaroslawicz or myself, Abraham Jaros and that all your calls will be returned within 24 hours.

You are invited to look at our firm’s website to see our reviews and testimonials, including numerous letters and emails from prior clients, and see what they say about us. On our firm’s website, you can also see the many of the Appeals our office has successfully handled and the various cases of ours that have been reported on extensively in the news media over the past 40 years.

Steps To Take When Switching Attorneys Mid-Case

There is nothing that prevents people involved in a personal injury case from switching attorneys. It’s actually a very simple process.

  1. Before you fire your current attorney, you should have another attorney lined up who has agreed to take over your case. This will prevent your case from being delayed or even dismissed because important deadlines passed by while you were searching for new representation.
  2. Sign a retainer agreement with your new attorney. This is a simple form that gives the new lawyer the legal authority to represent you.
  3. Your new attorney will then prepare a form called a “Consent to Change Attorney." This form tells the court, your present attorney and all the other parties involved that you have switched attorneys.
  4. Your new attorney will also prepare a “stop work" letter to send to your previous attorney. This directs that attorney to stop working on your case and to forward the case file to your new attorney.

If you feel that you have the wrong attorney for you and your case or if you are dissatisfied with your current attorney for any reason, you should consider switching attorneys.

Still Have Questions? Reach Out Today.

We Have Recovered Over $2 Billion for Our Clients. The attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros have obtained verdicts and settlements of over $1 Million for hundreds of our individual clients. With more than 300 years of combined experience in legal guidance and representation our New York City personal injury attorneys can represent you to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries. Our skilled legal team has earned multiple awards and recognitions, including:

  • Selected for inclusion in the New York Super Lawyers list
  • The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Top Attorneys in the New York metro area

When you retain a New York City accident lawyer from Jaroslawicz & Jaros, PLLC, you will always work directly with your lawyer, not a paralegal or secretary. We will always be available to you!

Contact the attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros for a free legal consultation regarding your rights and your legal options. If we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis so you don’t have to worry about any upfront costs.

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Get the advice and guidance you and your family need

If you or a loved one has a been injured in an accident, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. Call Jaroslawicz & Jaros in New York at 800.269.2780, or submit an online questionnaire. You can also email Abraham Jaros directly at ajaros@lawjaros.com, or call his personal cellphone at 917.842.9544.

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Contact us today and start your free consultation. You can also text or call Abraham Jaros directly at 917.842.9544 or email him at ajaros@lawjaros.com.

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