A little-known fact is that personal injury victims can decide to fire their lawyer if they choose. Of course, we recommend that anyone who is unhappy with their lawyer think carefully about the reasons why and whether the relationship is salvageable. Switching lawyers isn’t without risk, and you can delay compensation if you change attorneys. Nonetheless, some behavior from an attorney is inexcusable.
At Larson & Gallivan Law, we have worked with many clients who called us after being unhappy with their current legal representation. Below, we identify several red flags that signal it might be time to switch up your legal team.
You Never Hear from Your Vermont Personal Injury Lawyer
Lawyers are busy. In addition to doing legal research and writing motions, they are constantly meeting with new clients or appearing in court. However, no lawyer should be so busy that they can’t respond to questions that you have.
If you never hear from your lawyer, then you should definitely call to check up on what is happening with your case. And if your lawyer or an assistant doesn’t call back, then there is a definite problem.
Ethically, lawyers need to communicate with their clients. They might also need your permission before taking certain actions, like filing a lawsuit or agreeing to a settlement. A lack of communication is a big red flag that this lawyer is not the right one for you.
Your Lawyer Divulges Your Confidences without Permission
Lawyers have an ethical duty to maintain their clients’ confidences. Of course, at some point, a lawyer must reveal what they know about your accident and injury to make a legal claim. But there might be sensitive information you don’t want disclosed.
For example, your lawyer might have reviewed your entire medical history to fully understand your current injury. Chances are, the lawyer was looking to make sure you didn’t have a pre-existing injury similar to the one you currently suffered. While looking at your records, the lawyer might uncover a medical condition that is highly personal. There is no reason for the lawyer to reveal this fact to anyone since it doesn’t relate to your claim.
If you find out a lawyer has shared private information with others, then you should definitely look for a new lawyer. That is a serious ethical breach.
Your Lawyer Charges Surprise Fees
When you agree to hire a lawyer, you should review a fee agreement and sign it. This document should clearly and fully explain how much the law firm charges for its services. In most Vermont personal injury cases, lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis. That means they will accept a percentage of your settlement instead of charging for hourly legal work.
There really should be no surprises if the fee agreement is properly drafted and you go over it with the lawyer. If you suddenly get a bill with a surprise charge, then you should immediately call the law office.
Sometimes mistakes do happen. Maybe a legal assistant forgot the details of your fee agreement and sent a bill when she shouldn’t have. But if the lawyer can’t explain the mistake—or doesn’t agree to take it off your bill—then you should consider hiring a new lawyer.
Your Personal Injury Attorney Settles a Case without Your Input
Clients decide how much they want to settle a case for. Your lawyer can provide their expert legal opinion about what is a fair amount. But it’s up to you to say “yes.”
Of course, you might agree that your lawyer can settle a claim for at least X amount of money. For example, you might say, “You can settle so long as I get at least $75,000.” This lets your lawyer aggressively negotiate without always coming back to you to see if you agree with the amount offered.
But you definitely want to avoid a lawyer who decides for himself what’s a fair amount of compensation and accepts an offer without your input. In fact, that’s patently unethical.
Call Larson & Gallivan Law if You Need Help
Changing lawyers midstream is a difficult choice, but there is no place for unethical conduct. If you want an experienced Vermont personal injury lawyer, please contact Larson & Gallivan Law. We have helped clients injured in all sorts of accidents, including slip and falls, dog attacks, car wrecks, and other accidents. We can meet for a free consultation to review how you were injured and whether you have a solid legal claim for compensation.
You can reach our law firm by calling (802) 327-8458 or submit your information confidentially online.