Can I Change Houston Injury Attorneys?
We are often approached by folks who hired another personal injury lawyer in Houston for their case and are unhappy with their representation. They want to fire their first personal injury lawyer and hire us. People who want to fire their lawyer need to know how it will affect their personal injury case.
First of all, people might be unhappy with their lawyer for reasons unrelated to performance such as personality conflicts. Therefore, it is always wise to try to resolve any potential dispute with your lawyer before firing them.
However, the answer to the question of whether an injury client can fire their lawyer is quite clear. The answer is yes, you can always fire your lawyer and they must give you your file. It is important to note that just because you can fire your injury lawyer does not mean that the lawyer will not get paid.
In Texas, when you have a contingent (percentage) contract with your injury lawyer and you fire them, the amount they can claim for fees from your settlement depends upon whether they were fired with or without “cause.”
Firing Your Attorney Without Cause
If you fire your injury lawyer without cause, he or she can demand that you still pay the full amount of the percentage under your contract. This will be in addition to the percentage you pay your new lawyer. If both lawyers are to get 1/3 of your recovery or settlement, that leave only 1/3 for you. That is often not enough to cover your costs.
Firing Your Attorney With Cause
If you fire your injury lawyer with cause, he or she can only claim a reasonable hourly rate for the amount of work that they actually did on your case.
If you have made the decision to fire your lawyer, you should ask them if they will release any interest they have in your personal injury case. Often lawyers will do this. It makes it much easier for you.
Was Your Case Solicited Unlawfully?
There is an exception to the rule that the fired injury lawyer can seek fees in your case. This applies if they obtained your representation through unlawful means. This usually takes the form of barratry. Barratry occurs when a lawyer pays another person to seek out and contact injured victims to try to get them to hire the lawyer. In Houston illegal solicitation of people who have been injured happens everyday. It is also unlawful for a lawyer in Texas to make unsolicited personal contact with an injury victim that they do not know in an attempt to sign them up as a client. It does not matter if the lawyer does it or has another person make the contact. If your contract with your injury lawyer was signed under these circumstance, you might be able to fire the lawyer, void the contract and seek new counsel.
If you have any questions regarding your personal injury case, your lawyer and their representation or any other question call an attorney at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. The consultation is always free 713-221-6800.