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Can I Switch Attorneys During my Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you find yourself in a less than optimal situation with your current attorneys and are wondering if you can switch attorneys, the answer is yes. In New York State you have the right to switch attorneys at any point in the case. At the end of the day, it is vital that you are satisfied with your representation. Your relationship with your attorney is crucial to ensuring the success of your case. Your attorneys are speaking on your behalf, representing your interests, and serving your needs. There should be total trust between you and your attorneys, as well as open communication and agreement on the strategy you will pursue. It is important that your attorney is acting professionally, meeting deadlines, being consistent, making progress moving your case forward, communicating the status of your case, and working with you to achieve your mutual objectives. If you are not comfortable with your attorneys, it might be time to seek legal advice elsewhere or obtain a second opinion. This is your case, and you have the right have it handled by attorneys you trust. You and your attorneys should be a team, never adversaries. It is best to seek new counsel as soon as you see that your relationship with your original attorneys has become irrevocably damaged.
I Need to Change Attorneys, What’s Next?
If you decide it is time to change counsel, you should set up an appointment with new attorneys to set up a complimentary evaluation of your pending case. You and your attorneys will discuss all the issues with how your case has been litigated to that point and determine what is the best plan for your case moving forward. If you decide to make a change, your new counsel will ensure a smooth transition occurs in transferring the legal file from your old attorneys. Your new attorneys will take complete charge of the transition and ensure they promptly secure access to your legal file. You also will not have to worry about paying two sets of lawyers. If you later secure a financial recovery, you will still pay only one legal fee, and from that fee, the lawyers will resolve how the legal fee will be apportioned between the firms. But this should not and will not be your concern.
You might ask how the transition is made. Since you want to avoid a gap in representation you will want to retain new counsel prior to discharging your current attorney. Your new counsel will explain to you how to terminate the relationship in writing and ensure that the opposing attorneys, insurance carrier, and the court is all made aware that you have officially retained new counsel.
Your new attorney will ask you to bring any correspondence or documents that you have in your possession from your current attorney to your first appointment. Your new attorney will want to carefully review the file before committing to substitute for your original attorneys. You can expect the attorney to ask many questions in order to get up to speed on your case.
If your case has already been filed, your new attorney will prepare a “consent to change attorney” document. This is a formal notice to the court and all other parties involved that a new counsel is taking over representation.
Personal injury lawsuits can take years and it is important that you trust the firm you have retained. You need a firm that will communicate with you, respect you, and most importantly look after your best interests. Choosing an attorney is a big decision, and if you conclude that you might have chosen the wrong one, it is important for you to retain new attorneys you believe will best represent your interests.