When accident victims make the decision to retain a personal injury attorney, they do so with the goal of recovering compensation which will help reduce their stress and misfortune. Unfortunately, however, this goal doesn’t always come to fruition, and claimants may be wondering whether or not they have the desire or ability to change their attorney during the course of their case.
As with most legal questions, there are some variables and factors to be considered. Before we take a closer look at some of these considerations, we must first mention that the award-winning personal injury attorneys from Van Law Firm are ready to help at a moment’s notice, whether you are starting your journey with us or coming from somewhere else. Call our office nearest you today for more information.
Do I Have the Option to Change Lawyers During My Case?
The short answer to this question is yes, you have the ability to change your lawyer most of the time. Broadly speaking, you have the option to choose which lawyer you want to handle your case–if something goes wrong, or you would like to make a change for whatever reason, you also have the option to choose a new lawyer instead. Keep in mind, there are some guidelines that govern that right, but for the most part, you are free to choose between lawyers at any point throughout your case.
Why Might Claimants Wish to Change Their Personal Injury Attorney?
There are numerous reasons why an attorney-client relationship may not work out, and most of them stem from a lack of cooperation or communication, such as:
- There is little to no communication between you and the lawyer
- Your case seems to be stuck, with long periods of no progress
- You and the lawyer don’t agree on which direction to take the case
- The lawyer doesn’t seem to have the capability to handle the case well
- The lawyer is pressuring you to do things you don’t want to, such as accept a settlement you aren’t happy with
- There is an inherent lack of trust between parties
- There is an issue with your lawyer him or herself, such as illness, injury, disbarment, or if they retire or change firms
Which Laws Grant Claimants the Right to Change Personal Injury Lawyers?
It’s important to remember that the right for claimants to choose their representation has been well established on both a federal and state level. The vast majority of case law regarding this topic comes from criminal cases, but the same rules apply to civil actions as well. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows criminal defendants to choose their own counsel, and many other courts around the country have since ruled that this is extended to all proceedings.
What is the Process for Switching Personal Injury Lawyers?
If you wish to change lawyers during your case, you will need to follow various rules depending on how far along you are in proceedings. If your case has already been filed in court, then you will have to do a substitution of counsel, which is a formal notice to all parties involved that you are officially switching your representation. The rules regarding substitutions of counsel are vastly different between states, so you will need to consult the laws for your jurisdiction. For example, in our home state of Nevada, most substitution rules are unique to the court handling the case.
It’s much simpler to change lawyers before a legal claim has been formally filed. In that case, your new attorney will typically handle the task of informing everyone involved in proceedings that they are taking over-representation.
Is There Anything That Would Prevent You From Switching Lawyers During Your Case?
While claimants are largely free to choose representation as they please, there are some guidelines that may prohibit you from making a change. The most notable exceptions revolve around avoiding delays in the case–if you make a request to substitute counsel during an especially busy time in proceedings, courts may deny your request in an effort to avoid unnecessary or intentional delays. Some claimants move to change counsel solely because they wish to hinder the case’s progress, and courts are aware of this practice. A good rule of thumb is to treat the court like your employer, in the sense that you should communicate everything well in advance in order to avoid last-minute discrepancies.
The other main hindrance that may keep you from switching lawyers is a potential conflict of interest for the incoming lawyer. For example, perhaps the lawyer you wish to hire is already representing the opposing party in a separate lawsuit; or, the lawyer may have a conflict with the judge handling the case or some other conflict that may prevent a change. You should discuss potential conflicts of interest with any prospective attorney before making an agreement.
Questions? Contact Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers
If you have further questions about the process of changing your attorney or would like to start the process of filing a claim, simply call the trusted team of personal injury attorneys from Van Law Firm today. With decades of combined experience and $50+ million recovered to date, you won’t want to take your case anywhere else. Call our office nearest you today for a no-cost consultation and case review.