It happens all too often. A person hires a lawyer right after an accident, then months later when the medical treatment is all done, the lawyer they hired decides they no longer want the case. Don’t read into it too much. Some lawyers only handle cases if they are of a certain value or above. So unless your lawyer has ceased communicating with you, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your case can be smoothly transitioned over to a new attorney.
However, if your lawyer has ceased communicating with you, it might be a good idea to get a new lawyer, and have your new lawyer attempt to connect with the old lawyer. On rare occasion, lawyers get sick, die, or just plainly go missing without warning, just like any other human being. The most important thing is to find out your statute of limitations date, because if you don’t file a lawsuit by that date, your claim will expire.
1. Ask Your Old Attorney to Delay Withdrawing Until You Find a New Attorney
Attorneys will often recommend that you find a new attorney before they formally withdraw from representation, even when there has been a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship involving anger and animosity. Attorneys are generally agreeable to this arrangement because it will avoid injuring a client’s case. If you are firing your attorney, however, this request will likely not go over well.
2. Figure Out Your Lien Situation
Personal injury cases, if handled on a contingency basis (which they typically are), may have lien provisions included in the attorney fee agreement. When an attorney drops your case, if your contract had one of these provisions, you need to get a letter from the attorney clearly stating whether they have a lien, or not, and if so, for how much. A lien is a typical contract term in a contingency fee contract that allows an attorney to place a claim for payment on your case, and requiring that they be paid from any eventual settlement or judgment issued in the case for the work they did on your case.
When an attorney drops a case, they usually do not assert a lien, unless they have expended a significant amount of money or time on the case. Even then, some attorneys will release their liens in order to make it easier for a client to retain a new attorney, as a second attorney may be hesitant to take a case that has a lien attached to it. However, any new attorney will likely ask and want to know about liens before formally accepting representation.
3. Find and Hire a New Attorney
Don’t delay. The longer you wait to find a new attorney, the less time the new attorney will have to prepare your case. FindLaw has a personal injury lawyer directory that you can browse for free to find an experienced injury attorney in your area.