If I Am Not Happy with My Personal Injury Lawyer,
Can I Change My Lawyer If I Already Have a Case Pending?
In over 45 years that I have been a personal injury attorney I have often been asked this question:
I was injured in an accident. I hired a personal injury lawyer almost immediately after my accident who has already started my lawsuit. But now I feel that I am very unhappy with my lawyer. Can I change lawyers?
When I explain to them that they can change lawyers at any time, and for any reason, and, without paying any additional costs, fees or penalties, their response is always the same: “Oh, I didn’t know I could change my lawyer after I hired the lawyer and my lawsuit was already started!”
Many years ago this was brought home to me very vividly 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 and that he had hired a lawyer to bring a medical malpractice case, but 2 1/2 years had already passed and he could not reach the lawyer to speak to him, whether on the phone or at the office, to find out the progress and status of his case. He kept leaving messages and no one ever called him back.
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 (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 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 took her advice and met with me, he explained the facts of the case and why he was unhappy with his lawyer, and then decided to hire me 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.
When you hire a lawyer, you put your trust and your future into that person’s hands, so it is therefore very important that the attorney you hire to work for you is someone you can trust, feel comfortable with, and believe in 100%. If, for any reason, you are not happy with your current lawyer, you should consider hiring a new lawyer.
People who are seriously injured in an accident need time and help in adjusting to their new life. Often, very shortly after their accident and while still recuperating from their injuries, they hired the lawyer or law firm that they now find that they are not happy with.
People may be unhappy with their personal injury lawyers for many different reasons:
- You call and call your lawyers office and leave messages but no one ever calls you back to answer your questions or concerns.
- You are not being kept up to date on the status of your case, the progress it is making and most importantly you ask-Why is it 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 or not, or what is my case worth.
- You do not know who to ask for to discuss the facts of your case, what lawyer is handling your case, who is responsible for and knows your case.
- You never have any contact or communication with the lawyer that you first met with, and hired, no matter how many times you call and try to reach that lawyer.
- When you do finally get to speak to someone it is always a paralegal, secretary or junior associate who “will get back to you” with answers to your questions and then never does.
When you are suffering 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 have added to your life, which is certainly already difficult enough. Your lawyer should be responsive to your concerns and needs to make your life a little easier and not add to your burdens.
- When I was injured and searching for a lawyer, how did I get to hire the lawyer I hired?
- Did I interview many lawyers before hiring this one and then selected the one I thought was best for my case? Probably not. Unfortunately, in my experience most people just hire the first lawyer who meets with and speaks to them.
- How did you actually get to know about and hire this particular lawyer? Did you know this lawyer from before? Probably not, since searching for a personal injury lawyer after a serious accident is unfortunately a new and unplanned for experience. Sometimes the lawyer was recommended by someone you know - that someone could have been a member of your family, a friend or neighbor - or maybe you just saw the lawyer in an ad or from an internet search.
- 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 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 do you feel that you are now being treated by this lawyer that is representing you 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 very nice TV or radio commercials?
- If you found this lawyer from an internet search then you need to 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 is right on point. It showed a computer screen and keyboard with one dog typing on the keyboard saying to another dog that is watching him type, “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” This says it all in my view. You searched on the internet for a lawyer after you were injured, but what research did you do before you actually decided to hire this lawyer?
- I have heard from people that found their lawyer because the lawyer actually had a desk inside a doctors or chiropractors’ office, where they then try to solicit injured patients. The doctors and lawyers then work as a “team”.
- I have heard from people who were referred to their lawyer by their ambulance driver, or from a doctor or nurse at the emergency room or hospital. Someone whom you never met, and do not know, tells you that they know you need help after your accident and that they can help refer you to doctors and lawyers!
- I have even heard about and personally experienced lawyers who just walk into your hospital room uninvited 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? 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!
When you retain the New York City accident lawyers at Jaroslawicz & Jaros, you will always work directly with your lawyer, and not with a paralegal or secretary. We will always be available to you!