If you’ve been in a car accident and hired a personal injury lawyer to handle your case, you may eventually find yourself wanting to switch to a different attorney. There are various reasons accident victims decide to change lawyers mid-case. Can you legally make this change? What are the implications if you switch car accident lawyers in the middle of your claim?
Changing attorneys during an ongoing injury case is possible but can get complicated. There are pros and cons to weigh when deciding whether to stick with your current lawyer or find someone new. Read on for a detailed look at what’s involved with switching car accident lawyers mid-case.
Why Might I Want to Switch Car Accident Attorneys?
There are a few common reasons accident victims consider finding a new lawyer, including:
- Lack of communication– You rarely hear from your attorney or can’t get questions answered. This prevents you from fully understanding your case.
- Loss of confidence– Early mistakes, lack of diligence, missed deadlines, or other issues make you doubt their skills.
- Disagreement over settlement– Your lawyer pushes for a settlement you’re unhappy with before trial.
- Moving location– Relocating makes it hard to work with a lawyer who isn’t licensed locally.
- Language barrier– You have trouble communicating with an attorney who doesn’t speak your language.
If any of these resonate with your situation, changing personal injury lawyers may seem attractive. However, it’s not always simple.
Is It Possible to Can I Change My Car Accident Lawyer Mid-Case?
Whether you can change attorneys during a car accident case depends on various factors:
- Status of your claim– Early on you likely can switch more freely. Once a lawsuit is filed, changing lawyers gets more complicated.
- Court approval– In some states, a judge must approve your attorney change request even if a case isn’t far along yet.
- Opposing counsel objections– The other party may try to block your change attempt to maintain advantage.
- Contract clauses– Your fee agreement may include clauses prohibiting firing your lawyer or requiring you to pay termination fees.
- Case hand-off– A new attorney may be reluctant to take over a case mid-stream where key evidence has already been gathered.
While every situation is different, changing lawyers in the middle of your car accident case may face obstacles. Consult with a new attorney before terminating your current one.
What Should I Do Before Switching Accident Lawyers?
To ensure changing personal injury attorneys goes smoothly:
- Review your fee agreement– See what the contract states about firing your lawyer or withdrawing from the case.
- Check case status– Where you are in the legal process impacts how a change may work.
- Contact bar associations– Get input from lawyer regulatory boards on proper protocols for changing counsel.
- Interview replacement attorneys– Find one willing and qualified to take over a case in progress. Discuss their approach.
- Send written notice– Formally notify your current attorney that you intend to switch representation.
Taking these steps sets you up for an organized transition between accident lawyers. Don’t terminate your existing lawyer until their replacement is ready to take over.
What Are the Potential Downsides of Switching Car Accident Attorneys?
After being in a car accident, you may hire a personal injury attorney to help you seek compensation for your losses. However, as your case progresses, you may start to have doubts about your lawyer’s strategy or simply feel you two do not work well together. This could tempt you to switch to a new car accident attorney mid-case.
While hiring a different lawyer is certainly an option, it does come with some notable risks and drawbacks to carefully consider first:
- Financial Loss – Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency, but you still may owe your original attorney for time spent if you switch. This means paying two lawyers – one to start your case and another to finish. Significant extra legal fees cut into any settlement.
- Delays – It takes time for a new lawyer to get fully up to speed on your case details, evidence, proceedings so far, etc. This pause in momentum can drag out the claims process. The new attorney may request motions to essentially reset the legal timeline.
- Strategic Adjustments – A different lawyer may advise an entirely new approach to proving liability, calculating damages, negotiating with insurance companies, etc. You will have to adapt to their style.
- Weakened Credibility – The other party involved in the accident could argue your injury claim has no merit if you’ve fired your original lawyer and brought in someone new. This hurts negotiation power.
- Loss of Existing Knowledge – All the facts, documents, understanding of the issues that your first lawyer gathered are abandoned mid-stream. The new attorney starts from zero rather than building on that foundation.
While there are certainly scenarios where changing car accident lawyers makes sense, don’t take the potential downsides lightly. Communication and sticking with your current attorney is often best.
Q: What are good reasons to change my car accident lawyer?
A: Common valid reasons to change lawyers include poor communication, lack of confidence in their skills, disagreement over settlement approach, relocating away from them, or language barriers making communication difficult.
Q: When is the best time to change my accident lawyer?
A: Ideally very early on in the case, before your current lawyer has done extensive work or filed a lawsuit. Once court proceedings are underway, changing attorneys becomes much more complicated.
Q: How can I change my car accident lawyer smoothly?
A: Give written notice to your current lawyer, have a signed release of you as a client, transfer records to new counsel promptly, and find an attorney experienced with mid-case transitions.
Q: Will changing my accident lawyer negatively impact my case?
A: It can, if the transition is not handled properly. Delays, repeated legal fees, loss of case knowledge, and credibility issues are potential downsides to weigh.
Q: Can I get a free consultation with another lawyer without committing to switch?
A: Yes, you can pay for a one-time second opinion consultation without fully firing your current attorney to evaluate your options before making a change.