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Can I Fire my Personal Injury Attorney?

At the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we strive to provide a personal level of attention to each client and use meticulous detail to handle each case. What we have found is that many law firms in the Tampa/Saint Petersburg/Clearwater area fail to live up to that standard.

According to the Florida Bar each client represented by a Florida Attorney has 10 Basic Rights:

10 BASIC RIGHTS

When I retain a lawyer, I am entitled to one who:

  1. WILL be capable of handling my case.
  2. WILL represent me zealously and seek any lawful means to present or defend my case.
  3. WILL preserve my confidences, secrets or statements which I reveal in the course of our relationship.
  4. WILL give me the right to make the ultimate decision on the objectives to be pursued in my case.
  5. WILL charge me a reasonable fee and tell me, in advance of being hired and upon my request, the basis of that fee.
  6. WILL show me courtesy and consideration at all times.
  7. WILL exercise independent professional judgment in my behalf, free from compromising influences.
  8. WILL inform me periodically about the status of my case and, at my request, give me copies of documents prepared.
  9. WILL exhibit the highest degree of ethical conduct.
  10. WILL refer me to other legal counsel, if he or she cannot properly represent me.

The most frequent complaint we hear from clients that want to end their relationship with a previous attorney is failing to communicate with their clients. If you are in a situation where you have grown frustrated with the lack of communication between you and your lawyer, do not overreact and fire with haste. Terminating an attorney relationship is a big decision and it could affect your case. First, try to discuss those feelings with your attorney before dismissing him or her. If you have attempted to repair the relationship to no avail or have not received a proper response to multiple efforts to communicate with such lawyer, you may opt to find an attorney to replace your current legal counsel.

Email can be a very effective way of communicating with your attorney. Sometimes a lawyer cannot immediately return your calls, but most can and will quickly send an email and alert you as to when he or she will be able to communicate in depth.

The Personal Injury Attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have taken over many cases that have been handled by other firms. Oftentimes, clients have complained their cases have been previously handled at a former firm, solely by a paralegal, case manager or law clerk. Work product is produced by attorneys at our firm as this ensures the highest standard of quality control. Sometimes the largest advertisers, which consumers may construe to be the most prominent law firms, are notorious for having a big firm mentality where each case is just one of many. Clients may feel that there is a lack of attention given to their case or even to them when they attempt to ask for a status of their case. Of course I do not mean to paint every large advertiser with the same broad brushstrokes. These examples are only anecdotal based on cases that I have assumed.

Ultimately, you have a right to fire your attorney if you are unhappy with their services. After all, they are working for you! Keep in mind, however, that such a decision could have very serious repercussions to your case. It is not a decision to be taken lightly and is a choice that requires preparation. There are a couple of major details to be aware of if you decide to make a change in counsel.

  1. You must notify the prior attorney in writing that you no longer wish to have them represent you in the matter.
  2. Any attorney that you wish to consult with may only advise you and discuss the strategy of your case if you are not currently represented. This means that in order to communicate about the relevant details of your case, you must first dismiss your prior attorney.
  3. Your prior attorney may still have a financial interest in the case based on Quantum Meruit (a latin phrase meaning “what one has earned”). In layman’s terms this means that they may hold a lien against your case based on work that has already been conducted.
  4. You should not let a small Quntum Meruit lien discourage you from doing what you feel is in your best interest. In most circumstances the two firms or attorneys are easily able to resolve the issues and there is little or no stress or involvement from the client.

The attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have great working relationships with other Personal Injury attorneys throughout the Tampa Bay Area. If you are currently unhappy with your present legal representation, speak to your attorney and discuss your concerns. If you are unable to reconcile your concerns, feel free to give us a call. We can ease the process of ending your representation and starting with new counsel. Call us anytime at (727) 451-6900.