Can I Change Lawyers in the Middle of my Car Accident Case?


You can fire your Georgia lawyer at any time. After an injury you may hire what you think is the best lawyer in Atlanta and you later come to find out they are a blockhead. So, the question is “can I fire my car accident lawyer?” Is the party over for your lousy lawyer?

As the client, you have a great deal of power, limited only by the contract you sign. For a typical injury lawyer, their contract will provide that they recover a percentage of the the amount they get for you. This is a contingency fee contract. In the contract, it will outline what happens if you fire the firm. Georgia law provides that if you fire the injury lawyer before an offer is made on the case, you owe them for the actual time they put into the case, quantum meruit, as well as any expenses they put up on your behalf. In other words, you have to pay for the their time on the case. If there is already an offer on the table, most contingency contracts provide that the lawyer is entitled to their percentage of the offer on the table. The idea here is that it is not fair to use the lawyer to get the offer and then turn around and try to screw them.

That said, don’t be paralyzed just because the lawyer already has earned a percentage of the offer on the table. Some people don’t realize until well into litigation that the lawyer they chose is a paper tiger and is doing a lousy job. I had a neighbor who hired a lawyer to handle a post-concussion syndrome case and half-way through the case, the lawyer admitted he did not know how to handle such an injury case. I took the case over and we recovered the policy limits from Grange insurance soon thereafter. When you change lawyers after an offer is on the table, your new lawyer will pay out the old lawyer out of their portion of the fee. It really won’t cost you anything else so do not be afraid to change lawyers if your lawyer is not performing.

Now do understand that if your lawyer is doing a good job and the offers are not good, that does not mean you should switch. Some insurance carriers are just nasty and you will have to try your case to get justice.

Many of my clients come to my after they meet with another lawyer, sign the contract and then later regret it because they get that feeling in the pit of their stomach that they chose the wrong attorney. Do not compound the problem by sticking with a bad attorney. If you did not hire an Atlanta car accident lawyer the first time, make a change.

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