You’re always able to change workers compensation attorneys, even in the middle of your case. Whether or not you should, though, is another matter.
Before you end your relationship with your attorney, consider what unforeseen consequences that might have—and how it could affect your case.
Consider this before switching attorneys
For starters, know that finding a new attorney after firing your old attorney might not be as simple as you think.
Some lawyers view a client who has fired their lawyer as a red flag, for right or for wrong. Even more important is that attorneys who only work on part of your case will receive even less money than usual.
Firing your attorney can have risks, and it may affect your options in the future. With that said, there are some legitimate reasons to choose a new lawyer—your lawyer is unprofessional or rude, lacks expertise, etc. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why clients choose to switch attorneys, and why sometimes it’s better to stick it out with your current lawyer.
My case is taking too long
Unfortunately, very little happens quickly in a workers comp case. It can take over a month just to request a copy of your medical records, and scheduling your independent medical evaluation can take even longer. Most states also have a backlog of cases at the court level, which can also contribute to delays.
Truth be told, most of the delays you’ll encounter in your case probably aren’t the fault of your attorney. While there are some lawyers who drag their feet, the fact is that your attorney can’t force your employer, insurance company, or state workers comp courts to move faster. That’s just part of the process.
My attorney is hard to contact
Communication is a big deal, and nobody wants to feel like they’re in the dark. If you can’t reach your attorney at first, know that their paralegals and legal assistants will often know a great deal about your case. But if communication is a regular issue, schedule a meeting with your attorney over the phone or in person where you can let them know your concerns.
My attorney doesn’t understand workers comp law
Attorneys who don’t regularly handle workers comp cases may not know the little details and nuances that can make or break a case. If you feel your attorney doesn’t have a firm grasp on the intricacies of workers comp, you may want to start looking for a new one.
My attorney isn’t working hard on my case
Ask your attorney what steps they’ve taken on your case to get a grasp on exactly how hard they’re working. Have they contacted your employer? Have they arranged for your to attend a medical exam or go to rehabilitation? Are they negotiating your settlement?
A great lawyer is a passionate advocate, not an observer.
What happens if I fire my lawyer?
Most lawyers earn a fee based on a percent of your settlement or payout, typically capped between 10 and 20% depending on the state. When multiple attorneys have worked on your case, they’ll split the fee based on how much work each attorney has done.
If your lawyers can’t agree on a fair split, then your old lawyer may file an attorney’s lien on your case in order to petition their court fee once your case is resolved.
While it might seem like switching attorneys is easy and beneficial, the fact is that unless your lawyer is behaving totally unprofessionally or incompetently, it’s often better for your case to remain with the same attorney. Communication issues can always be resolved with a little work.