Dear Friends: Good day, stay positive and be courageous.
In my previous blog posts I’ve discussed the steps you should follow to find the right lawyer to handle your TBI case. (See here, here, here and here.) This guidance is intended to help you and your family make the right lawyer-hiring-decision during this stressful time. But let’s face it – we all make mistakes and it’s perfectly understandable if you end up making a mistake after experiencing a traumatic injury. So today’s blog will focus on what you can do if you come to the realization that you retained the wrong lawyer in your initial search.
There are any number of reasons that could account for this belated recognition. Maybe it turns out that the lawyer doesn’t address you with the respect you deserve; maybe the lawyer is too busy to take all the time that is necessary to discuss your case; maybe after talking to the lawyer once the legal process has begun you realize he or she doesn’t know as much about your case as you think they should — or any other reason. But once the feeling arises and you begin to take note that you lawyer is not living up to expectation, don’t dismiss these feelings as trivial. Trust your instincts and act upon them.
In the field of personal injury litigation, you only have one shot in court. There are no do-overs, absent a reversal of dismissal on appeal. So you must make sure you hired the right lawyer, and put your doubts to rest, one way or another.
As a first step, make an appointment to see and speak with your lawyer. When making this meeting don’t advise the lawyer of your doubts or concerns. You don’t want them changing their behavior to lull you into a false sense of security. Merely say, you just want to go over your case file. During the meeting ask any and all questions. The lawyer—if he knows his file—should have all the answers at his fingertips. When you leave this conference, you should walk away confident you’ve hired the right counsel. If you don’t, then you need to change lawyers immediately.
In New York, personal injury victims, TBI survivors or otherwise, can fire the lawyer they’ve hired with or without reason at any time during the litigation. What you should do first is find a new lawyer by following the process I’ve outlined in my previous blogs concerning how to hire the right lawyer (here, here and here). Once you’ve found new counsel, this attorney should walk you through the simple process of switching lawyers.
Briefly stated, you sign a document called Consent to Change Attorney, which the new lawyer sends to your outgoing counsel, usually accompanied by a letter instructing him not to contact you. Then the old lawyer transfers the file. And that’s it. Now you have a new attorney you have greater faith in. And you need not worry about increased legal fees as your old and new attorneys share the contingency fee. Meaning, it does not cost you more in legal fees to switch attorneys — the client share and attorney fee are fixed and controlled by statute.
Be well, Andy