Has your relationship with your car accident lawyer soured during the process of your claim? Perhaps you disagreed about legal strategy, became dissatisfied with your lawyer’s level of service and communication, or simply didn’t get along with the attorney. Regardless of the reason, you’re probably wondering, can you switch car accident lawyers when you no longer want to work with your current attorney?
Yes, You Have the Right to Choose
Texas law entitles you to select the legal counsel of your choice. Once you have hired an attorney for your car accident insurance claim, you can dismiss your attorney and hire a new one, even well into the process of your case. However, once your case reaches trial, you may find it difficult to switch attorneys, particularly if the trial court declines to postpone the trial to allow you to obtain substitute counsel. The court may grant an adjournment of a trial if your relationship with your attorney has truly broken down.
Reasons to Consider a Change
Clients may decide to fire their current lawyer and hire a new attorney for several reasons, including the following:
Clients sometimes become dissatisfied with their attorney’s service due to a lack of communication. A client may feel frustrated or anxious when they don’t receive updates regarding their case or when they can’t get their attorney on the phone to answer questions. Clients may also become angry when their attorney takes an unreasonably long amount of time to respond to emails or voicemails or fails to reply.
Before switching car accident attorneys, you should let their current attorney know about your concerns. The client and attorney can work out alternative method of communication, such as agreeing to communicate via email versus phone calls.
Lack of Progress
Another reason clients become frustrated with their attorney is when they feel their lawyer has made inadequate progress on their case. When a lawyer fails to provide their client with regular case status updates, the client may feel like their attorney has started ignoring them. Even when a car accident case moves forward at a slow pace, an attorney should frequently check in with the client to let them know the reasons for the delays and ensure the client that their attorney will continue to push the case forward.
Sometimes, clients and their accident attorneys don’t get along because of personality clashes. Clients may become uncomfortable working with their attorney. The client may feel the lawyer has pressured them into legal strategies or decisions that the client disagrees with. For example, a client may want to switch counsel if they feel like their attorney wants to push them into a quick settlement with an insurance company or if the attorney pushes a specific case strategy without explaining why.
Making the Switch Smoothly
Changing auto accident attorneys in the middle of your car accident case will cause delays in the progress of your claims. However, you can take the following steps to make the process of changing lawyers go more smoothly.
Review Your Lawyer Agreement
First, review the terms of your retainer agreement with your current personal injury attorney to determine your financial obligations if you choose to dismiss the law firm and switch to another lawyer. Your fee agreement may require you to pay your current attorney for the work they’ve already done on your case. Your current attorney may have the right to receive a portion of any compensation you subsequently win in the case. Your new attorney might work out an arrangement with your previous lawyer to split legal fees, especially if your original attorney performed substantial work such as completing the investigation or conducting depositions.
Inform Your Current Lawyer
Next, you should inform your current attorney that you have decided to part ways with him or her and that the attorney should cease working on your case. Your fee agreement may outline the process for terminating the services of a law firm services. An attorney dedicated to providing good customer service may agree to make changes in the attorney-client relationship. However, if the attorney-client relationship is irretrievably broken, you can request your case file from your current attorney. The attorney must provide your case file upon request.
Find a New Lawyer
Ideally, you will already have lined up a new San Antonio car accident lawyer before you fire your existing attorney. Otherwise, you may cause an extended delay in the progress of your case and jeopardize your legal rights should you miss the statute of limitations or filing deadlines in your car accident lawsuit. Your new attorney must refrain from helping you terminate your current attorney. Doing so may violate ethical rules prohibiting attorneys from soliciting clients already represented by counsel. Once you have terminated your original attorney’s services, your new lawyer can assist with the rest of the process of switching lawyers, such as filing the court paperwork for substitution of counsel.
Transfer Your Case File
Finally, you must obtain your case file from your previous auto accident attorney. Your case file will help your new attorney get up to speed more quickly and avoid duplicating work already done in your case. An attorney can retain a few types of papers from a client’s case, including those containing the attorney’s impressions about the case. However, an attorney cannot withhold a client’s case file as a security to demand payment for outstanding legal fees.
Get Legal Help from Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers in San Antonio
You deserve to have the right auto accident attorney on your side. Contact our office today for a free, initial consultation to talk to a San Antonio auto accident attorney about our record of success in personal injury cases. Based on his extensive knowledge and experience in personal injury law, attorney Troy Brookover is recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Specialist in Personal injury litigation.
After a car accident that was another driver’s fault, Troy Brookover can help you file a personal injury claim and demand fair compensation for your injuries and related losses. If the insurance company refuses to agree to a fair settlement for your medical bills and related losses, San Antonio auto accident lawyer Troy Brookover will be ready to demand justice for your serious injuries in court.