Can I Fire My Personal Injury Attorney and Represent Myself?
Most personal injury claims, especially those that involve severe injuries and significant property damage, are much too complex for someone to do independently. It's much better to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case to explore your options and make sure your rights are protected.
However, you have every right to try to handle the case yourself or even fire your personal injury attorney at almost any time and for any reason.
Nevertheless, there are several things you need to consider before handling a lawsuit alone or firing your current attorney.
Let's explore more in the article below.
Table Of Contents:
- Things To Consider Before Handling Your Personal Injury Claim
- What Do I Do If My Lawyer Is Not Doing Their Job?
- How Do I Fire My Injury Lawyer?
- Why It's Always A Good Idea To Have A Lawyer On Your Side
- Picking The Right Personal Injury Lawyer
Things To Consider Before Handling Your Personal Injury Claim
You need to consider a few essential things before you fire your current attorney or try to represent yourself after a car accident.
If you truly want to represent yourself, all three of these factors should be in place before proceeding.
Managing Your Own Case Is Hard Work
Before you dive into your injury claim all by yourself, you need to be prepared to put in a lot of hard work learning the "rules of the road" regarding the insurance claims process.
Learning how the claims process works and then handling the claim on your own will take some time and effort, especially if you are nursing accident injuries. If you aren't willing to invest the time and effort into learning the claims process and negotiating with the insurance companies, you can stop reading here and skip to the bottom.
If you are okay with doing the leg work, it will take an extended amount of time. If you're committed, an excellent note-taker and your claim is relatively "simple," you might be able to learn enough in about 6 to 8 hours.
If your case has more in-depth legal issues or you want to go the route of mediation or small claims court, tack on another 5+ hours of research time.
If your case goes to trial, you will have to spend countless hours learning and educating yourself. And these estimates are just for prep time.
It is advised that you hire a lawyer if your case makes it to mediation or trial. Hiring an attorney will give you the best chance to win.
Has the Insurance Company Admitted Responsibility?
If the at-fault party's insurance company admits responsibility, you won't have much of a fight ahead of you.
After that, all you have to do is gather the evidence of your losses, including your medical bills and property damage, and negotiate fair compensation for those losses.
But if the at-fault party denies responsibility, you need to start studying right away, or better yet, hire legal representation.
You should at least contact a lawyer and get an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Most attorneys offer free consultations.
Did You Suffer Significant Injuries?
If you are sure you haven't been seriously injured (hopefully, you've been to a doctor and been cleared of any injuries) and there isn't much property damage, you may be able to represent yourself. However, remember that many accident injuries aren't immediately apparent, and injuries such as Whiplash can take days, weeks, and even months to present symptoms.
You don't want to try to represent yourself in a case potentially with money to lose because you aren't familiar with the particulars of personal injury law. With a larger claim, an experienced personal injury attorney will benefit you more.
Accident victims with injuries like broken bones, herniated discs, or anything more severe than a lightly sprained ankle should strongly consider hiring a lawyer.
What Do I Do If My Lawyer Is Not Doing Their Job?
If you feel that your lawyer isn't performing their job to the extent you need them to, it's time to end your arrangement with them and seek alternative representation.
The first thing you should do is ask your present lawyer for the details of your contract. Your contract will include instructions for what you must do if you decide to terminate your attorney. You'll need to pay close attention to any instructions and go over everything with a fine-tooth comb.
You should also consider not firing your current attorney until you have an experienced lawyer to take their place. This gives you time to find the best lawyer for your case. You do not want to have a gap in your representation, leaving you to frantically search for another lawyer. You could end up with even worse representation than your previous lawyer.
You and your new attorney can look over your previous contract and go over your options and alternatives. Attorney retainer contracts may be confusing and difficult to comprehend, especially with no prior legal experience. Having another lawyer review your contract and clarify the measures you need to do will help you avoid making any mistakes that could end up costing you money down the road.
How Do I Fire My Injury Lawyer?
If you're still confident you can handle your case on your own and you need to fire your lawyer, it's as simple as sending an email. It is best to fire your attorney in writing.
Send them something like this:
"Dear (Attorney's Name),
I no longer require your service because (insert your reason here). I have decided to handle my case (on my own or with another attorney). Therefore, I will need to pick up my case file within 14 days. Please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX when my file is prepared and ready for pick up. Thank you.
The day after you send the email, give your previous attorney or their legal team a call to confirm they received the email. It is also a good idea to let the insurance company know in writing that the lawyer no longer represents you.
Why It's Always A Good Idea To Have A Lawyer On Your Side
No matter how confident you are in your abilities, it is almost always better to have experienced legal counsel on your side.
Here are the two main reasons why:
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Understand the Law
If you honestly want to study personal injury law and learn legal procedures, you are free to do so. But the significant benefit of hiring a lawyer is that they already know the claims process and have experience navigating it. They have probably worked on cases like yours before, so they will be ready to fight for the compensation you deserve from day one.
Your lawyer will represent you, protect you from the insurance companies, and protect your rights throughout the entire process. If you deal with your claim yourself, you might not know you have rights to protect. Your attorney will also be familiar with the statute of limitations in your state for filing personal injury lawsuits. Missing deadlines generally keeps you from receiving compensation.
A car accident lawyer can work quickly to file your case and meet all deadlines since they are already familiar with the ins and outs of personal injury law.
Lawyers Can Accurately Estimate Damages
Your accident lawyer will also know how to estimate your damages and negotiate with the insurance company. Insurance companies will always try to downplay your injuries and damages so they can offer a lower settlement amount.
If you represent yourself, you may not realize what you can and cannot declare on your insurance claim and instead accept a lowball offer and miss out on thousands of dollars of compensation.
An injury attorney will assess all of your injuries and damages, including emotional losses and lost time from work, to estimate what you should be entitled to recover.
Your lawyer will account for the following damages:
- Property Damage
- Disability or Disfigurement
- Pain and Suffering
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Mental Anguish
- Loss of Consortium
If the insurance companies don't offer you what you deserve, your case will go to court, but most personal injury claims are settled outside of court.
Another reason to obtain a lawyer is if you accept a settlement offer that is too low outside of court, you generally lose your right to file another lawsuit to pursue fair compensation in the future.
Picking the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
If you tried to tackle your personal injury claim, or you need to fire your current lawyer, it's crucial to find a potential attorney that can get the job done. In almost every situation, securing legal representation before pursuing a serious personal injury lawsuit is a must.
It's extremely difficult to take on the insurance companies and their lawyers on your own, especially when your health, finances, and emotional well-being are on the line.
If you are in search of a personal injury lawyer, contact an experienced attorney at Helping The Hurt. They will do everything in their power to make sure you get the settlement you deserve in your personal injury lawsuit.
Click the button below to get started with a free consultation.