You are under no obligation to have any attorney represent you in a civil lawsuit. You can fire your lawyer before your settlement or at any other time during the course of your personal injury case. That said, your attorney could still have a claim on the settlement amount if they were involved in the process of resolving your case.
There are valid reasons to fire an attorney. However, an effort to drop your legal counsel prior to a settlement in an effort to avoid paying their fee is unlikely to work. The best option available is to find an attorney that you can build a good working relationship with.
The Right to Terminate Your Attorney
Virtually all personal injury cases are undertaken with the agreement that either side can end the relationship for any reason and at any point. If you choose to fire your attorney at any point in the process, you do not need:
- The court’s permission
- An agreement with your attorney
There are a number of reasons why you might want to end your relationship with your injury attorney.
Reasons Someone May Fire Their Lawyer
Many people cite their attorney’s poor communication or the lack of updates when they are determined they would fire their legal counsel. Others might feel as though they were doing most of the work on their own. Some people simply do not get along with their attorney and want to make a change.
Ultimately, the reason for choosing to fire your attorney is yours alone. You can stop working with your lawyer, as you don’t have a contract preventing you from doing so. Firing your attorney before a settlement pays out might not cut them out of the settlement entirely, though. Your attorney could enforce an attorney lien on the proceeds of your settlement.
For a free legal consultation, call 404-214-2001
Understanding and Dealing with Attorney Liens
An attorney’s lien is a security interest held by your lawyer on any settlement you receive for your personal injury case. The law allows attorneys to keep a lien on settlement proceeds. This ensures they are paid from that money before it is distributed to the injured party. With a lien in place, you wouldn’t recover the full amount of your settlement without first addressing your attorney’s legal fees.
These liens are limited in scope. An attorney may not place a lien for more than the value of the legal work they completed. For that reason, attorney liens are likely to be much larger at later stages of a case compared to the very beginning.
If you fire one attorney and hire another, your new legal counsel might agree to help you resolve your lien with your previous attorney. Often, this involves negotiating an amount to pay your old attorney in exchange for them releasing your lien. However, you also have a contingency agreement with your new legal counsel. So, resolving your lien with your previous attorney will come out of your share.
Is Firing Your Lawyer a Good Idea?
While you have a right to fire your attorney for virtually any reason, that does not mean doing so is in your best interest. Changing your legal counsel can:
- Cause problems in your injury case
- Potentially disrupt your chances of securing a fair settlement
You could end up losing out on a much larger percentage of your settlement by switching attorneys at the last minute.
Firing Your Attorney Later on Costs You
For that reason, firing your attorney shortly before your case settles could end up costing you more in the long run. If your settlement is nearly complete, the attorney could claim they are entitled to their full legal fee.
Hiring a second attorney could eat up much of your share of the settlement. For that reason, firing your attorney late in the process might not be in your best interest. This could be true regardless of how unhappy you are with the lawyer’s performance.
It is a different story when you are considering a different attorney early on in the process. If a settlement is not imminent, your attorney will have a hard time claiming their full amount of fees should you choose to fire them.
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Talk to an Attorney About Your Personal Injury Case
You have the right to fire your lawyer at any point, including before a settlement is reached. However, there are consequences that can come with firing your attorney immediately before a settlement that could make you regret the decision.
If your case is close to settling, firing your attorney could cost more in the long run. In order to avoid these potential headaches, it could benefit you to find legal counsel. You might want to do this at the beginning of the process. To learn how Kaine Law could help you recover the compensation you need, call (404) 214-2001 for your free consultation.