Wrongful Death Lawsuit Attorneys
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Attorneys: Can I Switch Wrongful Death Attorneys?
If you are not happy with the representation you are getting from your wrongful death lawsuit attorney, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do about it. The good news is, yes, you can switch wrongful death lawsuit attorneys – even in the middle of your case. However, before making that decision, there are a few things you need to know. In this blog post, we will discuss the reasons and consequences of terminating the attorney-client relationship and what to expect if you decide to switch attorneys. We will also help you understand when changing attorneys is the right thing to do and how to go about doing it. Read on to learn about the pitfalls of firing your wrongful death attorney, when it might be necessary, and how to make an informed decision.
Why Do You Want to Switch Attorneys?
When you hire someone to do a job for you — a plumber, a mechanic, a carpenter, a doctor, or an attorney—you expect that he/she will do a good job. Most of us recognize that we can’t expect perfection, but we do expect competence without costly blunders.
If a plumber floods your basement with sewage, if your car’s “check engine” light comes on as you are leaving the mechanic’s shop, or if you end up in the emergency room after following your doctor’s orders, you can call an attorney to help vindicate your rights.
But what if the attorney you hired to handle your case isn’t being straight with you, or is repeatedly rebuffed by the court? If you feel your current lawyer is not handling your case well, you can switch to another attorney even in the middle of your case. However, there are a few considerations to make before switching, including how to choose a new representation.
Pinpointing the reason(s) you want to change lawyers can help you on several fronts. First, you can discuss your issue with your lawyer and potentially work through it. If the issue can’t be resolved, knowing what led to this decision can help you identify what you want in your new attorney.
Common reasons to switch to a different attorney include:
- A lack of information on your case
- Failure to return calls or emails
- No explanation of legal proceedings or paperwork
- Disagreement over the direction of the case
- A tense or deteriorating relationship
- Stalled progress on the case
- Failure to achieve a fair settlement offer or agreement
Even if there has been no egregious problem in how your lawyer has handled your case, you may find that you simply don’t get along. Your attorney is part of your life for weeks, months, and even years as you pursue compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one. As such, your team should be united in your pursuit of compensation.
What to Consider Before Firing Your Lawyer
There are a number of things a good wrongful death attorney can do for you, from developing medical and vocational evidence to negotiating settlements to representing you at your hearing or on appeal. Having a dedicated, experienced attorney on your side can easily turn a losing workers’ comp case into a winning one.
Hiring the right attorney is critical, but not everyone gets it right the first time. If you are not satisfied with the performance of your wrongful death lawsuit attorney, you should consider switching lawyers, even in the middle of your case.
Before you terminate the attorney-client relationship, you should understand the consequences of taking that step, how it might affect your case, and when it may or may not be a good idea.
First, you should know that it might be more difficult to find another wrongful death lawsuit lawyer to represent you after you fire your first one. Rightly or wrongly, many attorneys consider this a red flag for a prospective client. Perhaps more importantly, lawyers know that they’d make less money when they are hired after another attorney has already worked on the case (more below on why that’s true).
Second, you should think about why you want to fire your lawyer. There certainly are legitimate reasons to switch wrongful death lawsuit attorneys without reservation—for instance, if your lawyer doesn’t stay in contact with you, is rude or unprofessional, or clearly lacks expertise in workers’ comp involving wrongful death.
But many clients, frustrated with the endless delays in their cases, blame their attorneys when the real fault lies elsewhere. It is essential to maintain realistic expectations about what an attorney can and cannot control.
Reasons for Switching Attorneys
Now let’s look more closely at some of the most common reasons clients get frustrated with their attorneys – and when switching lawyers may or may not help.
My Case Is Taking Too Long
Nothing happens quickly in a workers’ compensation case, especially one involving a wrongful death. A simple request for medical records can easily take four to six weeks, and it could take many more months for you to gather all records of treatment until the death of your loved one.
The huge backlog of cases in most workers’ comp courts can lead to further delays. In the vast majority of cases, blaming your attorney for these delays is like blaming the waiter because your steak isn’t cooked properly. The fault usually lies with the chef, not the waiter.
In most circumstances, hiring a new attorney won’t speed up your case. In fact, there is a better chance that switching lawsuits will postpone matters even further, especially if your hearing is approaching.
My Lawyer Doesn’t Understand Workers’ Comp & Wrongful Death Law
Wrongful death lawsuit attorneys who don’t specialize in workers’ comp tend not to understand the nuances of this complex field of law. If you are not confident that your lawyer has a solid grasp of the legal issues in your wrongful death case, you would be well-advised to look for a new one.
Before you hire a replacement, make sure that the new attorney specializes in or regularly handles workers’ comp cases and can explain the relevant issues to you. Ask for references from former clients or other attorneys if you have any doubt.
- My Attorney Doesn’t Return my Calls
If your attorney isn’t keeping you updated on the status of your case, you may have cause for concern. Keep in mind, however, that legal assistants and paralegals can be valuable sources of information about the workers’ comp process in general and your case in particular.
If your lawyer is unavailable when you call, request that a phone conference or in-office meeting be scheduled. Make it clear at your next meeting that you expect better communication. Your attorney should listen to your concerns and take steps to improve communication in the future.
If you still experience poor communication with your attorney, then you may consider finding a new one.
My Attorney Isn’t Working Hard Enough on my Case
A good wrongful death lawsuit attorney is a zealous advocate, not a passive observer. You are well within your rights to inquire (in a non-confrontational manner) precisely what steps your lawyer has taken to advocate on your behalf. Has he/she written a letter to your employer or the workers’ comp insurer? Has he/she arranged for an independent autopsy? Is the lawyer engaging in settlement negotiations or preparing for your hearing?
Bear in mind that you have presumably hired your attorney for his or her legal expertise in the field of workers’ compensation due to wrongful death. While it can be tempting to second-guess your lawyer’s actions or strategy, to some extent you simply must trust your attorney’s instincts and judgment.
What Happens to the Attorney’s Fee If I Fire My Lawyer?
As you no doubt learned when you hired your first lawyer, workers’ comp attorneys generally work for a percentage of the benefits clients receive in an award or settlement. State law governs attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation cases, and many states set a cap on the percentage and/or total amount they can charge—usually from 10% to 20% of the benefits.
When more than one attorney has worked on your case, the lawyers split that fee according to how much work each has performed. If they can’t agree on a fee-sharing arrangement, the fired attorney may file an “attorney’s lien” on your workers’ comp case and petition the court for a fee when your case is resolved.
At first blush, requiring multiple wrongful death lawsuit attorneys to split a single fee appears to be a good deal for clients. The downside to this arrangement is that it becomes much harder for clients to find a second attorney after firing their first.
Attorneys’ fees in workers’ comp cases are already low-margin even under the best circumstances. So, most attorneys are reluctant to accept new cases that will pay only a fraction of their usual fee.
Find A New Attorney Before Firing Your Existing Lawyer
If you are involved in an ongoing lawsuit, don’t fire your current wrongful death lawsuit attorney until you have arranged for another attorney to take over your workers’ comp case. There are a number of factors that may affect a new attorney’s ability or willingness to take over your case, including:
- Timing – If your trial date is approaching, it will take a new attorney time to become familiar with your case, obtain important information that your existing lawyer failed to get, clear his or her schedule to accommodate your trial date or seek a continuance (delay the trial), and/or attempt to settle the case on favorable terms.
- Insufficient information – Your existing lawyer may not have obtained the evidence necessary to win your case. Typically, attorneys gain pertinent information through depositions (recorded interviews taken under oath in the presence of both parties’ attorneys) and sworn answers to written questions. Attorneys also consult experts knowledgeable about a case’s subject matter, and witnesses who may have first-hand information about what happened. Your existing lawyer’s failure to obtain this information at the proper time may bar a new attorney from thoroughly investigating and evaluating your case.
- Pre-trial rulings – The court may have already issued a ruling excluding evidence essential to your wrongful death claim, dismissing part of your case, or otherwise limiting your ability to win. Sometimes, these rulings can be overcome; sometimes, the only way to address these rulings is on appeal—after trial and the entry of final judgment. This may take more than a year, after which you may have to go through another trial before obtaining judgment on all the relevant facts.
Because of the impediments that may face a new attorney taking over your case, it is essential that you arrange for a new attorney to take over before you fire your existing attorney. It is never a good idea to leave yourself without any attorney while your case is proceeding. Having no attorney can be worse than having one who performs poorly.
Schedule A Free Case Review
Losing a loved one is always an intensely painful experience. The pain of that loss is magnified when you discover your loved one died unnecessarily, or because of someone else’s negligence. There is nothing that can replace the loss of your loved one, but you can hold the negligent party accountable by seeking compensation. At Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC, we can help you do that.
The wrongful or unnecessary death of a loved one on the job usually leaves more than just an emotional void. Your loved one could have been the breadwinner for your family, or he/she may have been hospitalized for a lengthy period before he/she passed away.
If you suffered due to the wrongful death of a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. Our highly experienced, professional, dedicated, and compassionate wrongful death lawsuit attorneys can fight for your right to recover your financial losses as a result of the death of your loved one.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Attorneys
We can help you determine the validity of your claim and help you seek the best possible outcome. To learn more, feel free to call us at (470) 268-5802 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a FREE, no-obligation case review/consultation.