Not all personal injury lawyers are created equally. I often receive complaints from clients that their lawyers are not returning their calls or answering their questions. Some lawyers are involved in law practices that are like conveyor belts, channeling in tons of new cases by using TV ads. Some lawyers use an unethical approach we call using “runners” to find accident cases and refer them to a particular lawyer or firm. This is in complete violation of the Canons of Ethics in PA and most jurisdictions. Often these lawyers will pay a towing firm or someone else involved in the initial phase after an accident to obtain information regarding an accident victim to solicit the case. Of course, aside from being unethical, this practice gives a terrible impression of the legal profession. Keep in mind, you should never hire an attorney who has suddenly contacted you without telling you how they got your name and contact information. That being said, sometimes a lawyer you have chosen by appropriate means will fail to meet your expectations by not returning calls, not dealing with critical issues relating to your case, or not properly preparing for court.
If this type of behavior is repeatedly occurring in your relationship with your lawyer, it may be time to find a new lawyer who will offer you prompt, courteous, and aggressive representation. All you need to do is find the lawyer you wish to hire and ask for assistance in how to transfer your file to them. Usually, the new lawyer will help you draft a letter to the prior firm to dismiss them. The fact that you signed a fee agreement or contract with the prior lawyer does NOT mean you cannot change lawyers. A lot of people erroneously believe that they cannot discharge their lawyer because they signed a “contract”. It may be true that your new lawyer would owe a portion of his or her fee on your case to the prior lawyer if the case is won or favorably resolved, but that will not involve any payment out of your pocket! It will simply reduce the fee of the new lawyer. The end result will be that you will have a new lawyer who will meet your needs.
How do you chose a new lawyer? Look at the credentials of the new lawyers you are considering. Look for a lot of experience exclusively in the area of law your case would fall into. In this case, we are discussing personal injury cases, so you would want a lawyer who practices exclusively in that area of expertise. You do not want a “jack of all trades, master of none” or you may be in the same boat you were in with the first lawyer. Also, look at any client testimonials and read on Avvo what other lawyers say about your new prospective lawyer. This is too important a decision to risk picking someone from a TV ad or billboard. Research your lawyer!
And do NOT fire your first lawyer until your next one has agreed to take your case. You need continuous representation to avoid missing any deadlines on your case. Good luck!