Under Virginia law you can fire your personal injury attorney at any time. However, just because you have this ability does not mean it's a good move.
Every year we talked to many claimants who are dissatisfied with the services they are receiving from their current attorney. They often asked whether they can switch attorneys and hire us. Here's the deal:
- Even if you are paying your attorney on a contingent fee basis and the case is not settled you'll still owe that attorney for the reasonable value of his or her services. If you have already received an offer in the case that figure is likely one third of the current settlement offer.
- You will also of the attorney all of the out-of-pocket expenses that he or she has expended on your case.
- You will typically not get a discount from your new attorney. That attorney will charge his or her contingent fee (usually one third of the recovery), so you may end up paying two attorneys and ending up with far less money in your pocket.
Why do people want to fire their attorney? Usually because there's been some breakdown in communication. If you have not been kept apprised of the developments in your case. Maybe you and your attorney have a vastly different idea of the value of your case. If you just don't like your attorney.
The best way to handle these situations is to have an in person (or video) meeting with the attorney. He or she needs to know why you are dissatisfied (and, they generally want to know this information. No one likes to deliver bad customer service.)
You need to listen to any advice you attorney is giving about the value of your case or about the procedures moving forward. Most client dissatisfaction comes from a lack of communication and usually there is some blame to go around from both the client and the attorney.