Yes. If you are not satisfied with your auto accident attorney, you have the right to schedule a consultation with another attorney, switch lawyers or even drop your lawyer all together and represent yourself. However, just because you can drop your attorney, represent yourself, or change lawyers in the middle of a car accident case does not mean it is always a good idea.
For example, at Max Meyers Law, we would never suggest that you represent yourself in a car accident case where you stand accused of contributory fault.
There may be a time, though, when you need to consider switching lawyers. There is no doubt that navigating through a personal injury case is stressful, and emotions often run high. Disagreements are bound to happen between attorneys and their clients.
But if you cannot communicate with your lawyer, or if you would prefer someone with a different outlook on your claim, then you may need to consult with a different Kirkland car accident attorney. There is no doubt that having the right representation can impact the outcome of your claim.
Are there rules and regulations that protect me if I switch attorneys?
Washington State law gives you the right to change lawyers at almost any point during your car accident case. We encourage you to communicate your concerns with your lawyer as clearly as possible, and attempt to work out any differences before considering making a change. However, sometimes a change is necessary.
If you opt to switch lawyers, the Rules of Professional Conduct state that your former attorney must still act in a way that protects your best interests. This includes maintaining all of the protections required in an attorney-client relationship such as confidentiality. If the attorney violates any of these rules, s/he may face sanctions from the Washington State Bar, and could even lose his/her right to practice law in the state.
What happens with my case file?
Under Washington State law, all of the documents associated with a car accident claim belong to the client who is paying for the legal services. This means that you retain your file if you ask your lawyer to withdraw from your case.
Some attorneys may make this process more difficult than others, but most will forward all original papers and other documentation to your new attorney as soon as possible.
How will I handle paying attorney’s fees?
Since most lawyers handle Washington personal injury claims on a contingency basis, paying your attorney typically happens when your claim settles. This does not usually change when you swap attorneys. Your new attorney should arrange to pay your first attorney any money due after you win compensation.
How much you owe your original attorney depends on a number of factors, including:
- How many hours of work s/he put into your case
- The fee agreement you signed
- Whether you paid a retainer
- Any unethical behavior on his/her part, or other defenses
Depending on why you changed lawyers, we may be able to help you negotiate a lower payment to your first lawyer or work with you to keep you from paying any additional expenses above and beyond what you expected to pay. It is also important to note that if you paid a retainer, your lawyer should refund any unused portion at the time you ask them to withdraw from the case.
How could this affect my car accident case?
The biggest downside to switching lawyers is that it often prolongs the case. It takes time for the new lawyer to learn about your case, any negotiations, and any motions the first attorney already filed. For this reason, it may not be the best time to switch right before a court date.
At the same time, though, having a lawyer who fits your personality and understands your needs is an important part of walking away with a fair and just settlement in your case.
If you question the quality of your representation and having an open and frank discussion with your attorney has not changed anything, it may be time to schedule an appointment with Kirkland personal injury lawyer Max Meyers.
Max Meyers Law: Kirkland Car Accident Attorney
Car accident lawyer Max Meyers and his team at Max Meyers Law understand the important role a lawyer plays in guiding their clients through the car accident claims process. Having the wrong lawyer on the case increases stress, and can leave the accident victim and their family feeling doubtful about securing a just settlement.
We want you to feel reassured and taken care of during the entire process. You can reach our Kirkland office to schedule a free consultation today at 425-399-7000.