CAN I FIRE MY ATTORNEY AND HIRE A DIFFERENT ONE?

Yes, you can fire your first attorney and hire a new one, but it may cost you a lot, and it may be difficult to find a new attorney to represent you. When you hire a lawyer to represent you on your worker's compensation claim, the lawyer has you sign a representation agreement that states what the fee arrangement is, and how services can be terminated. If you did not get a copy of this representation agreement or you can't find yours, call and request another copy. Most representation agreements will allow you to terminate the representation agreement at any time, but most also obligate you to pay an attorney fee immediately upon terminating the agreement. You need to know what you agreed to pay for fees if you want to fire your first attorney before your claim is over.

 

There is probably a detailed clause in the representation agreement about what you agreed to pay for attorney fees if you decide to terminate services before your claim is settled. Most attorneys handling workers' compensation claims work on a contingency fee basis, and when you decide to fire your attorney is important. The attorney may be entitled to bill you at an hourly rate for attorney time and paralegal time up to the time you end the agreement, or the attorney may be entitled to a percentage of your PPD award, even if you haven't accepted it yet. Read the fee agreement carefully, and then ask the first attorney what you will owe in fees if you end the attorney's services now if you really considering ending the relationship.

 

Most attorneys in Las Vegas will not agree to represent someone who is already represented by an attorney. The reason is simple. The second attorney does not want to get involved in any fee dispute you are likely to have with your first attorney when you terminate his services and then cannot immediately pay what is owed in attorney fees. Secondly, firing an attorney sends up a red flag to the second attorney that you may be a problem client. The fee agreement you signed with the first attorney is a legally binding agreement, and attorneys do not want clients who do not intend to honor their agreements. That is not to say that a client may not have a good reason for wanting to end a relationship with the first attorney. However, the client must understand that most attorneys will not even want to meet with you to discuss your case if you have already hired and fired another attorney.

 

I suggest that anyone having trouble with their first attorney, do the following:

 

Call the attorney's office and schedule an appointment with the attorney. If you cannot get an appointment, write to the attorney and tell that attorney that you are having trouble scheduling an appointment, and that it is essential that you meet right away.

 

When you meet with the attorney, be specific about what is upsetting you.

 

Make sure that you understand what your attorney can and cannot do in a particular situation. For example, it is not the attorney's fault if the appeals office reschedules your case for a later hearing date.

 

Ask how you can establish a better system of communication if a lack of communication is the problem.

 

Ask your attorney how much you would owe in fees and costs if you were to end the representation agreement now, if that is what you really want to do. Consider how you will pay the first attorney. Most fee agreements call for immediate payment if the agreement is terminated early.

 

Make sure that you have another attorney who is agreeable to taking your case if you do fire your first attorney.

 

Your new attorney will have you send a letter to the adjuster terminating the power of attorney with the first attorney.

 

The most common complaint clients have about attorneys is that the attorney does not communicate enough about what is happening on the case. Clients may also complain that the attorney "is dong nothing", when the attorney may actually be very busy communicating with the adjuster, obtaining necessary medical records, or regularly reviewing the file. Perhaps there is a better way of contacting your attorney to find out what is happening on your claim other than telephoning and hoping to catch your attorney between phone calls. Ask if you can have your attorney's email address. Always call and request an appointment to meet with your attorney if you become extremely frustrated or angry about what your attorney is, or is not, doing. Usually, problems between clients and attorneys are resolved in a face-to-face meeting.

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