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Can I Switch My Lawyer in a Workers’ Comp Case?

While it may be the last thing you wanted when you began a workers’ compensation claim, it is possible to switch your lawyer in the middle of your case. If you feel that your attorney is not up to par or is too busy to dedicate enough time to your case, you have the right to change your lawyer. The laws and procedures surrounding this vary from state to state.

Your Attorney Works for You, Not the Other Way Around 

When you sign a contract to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer, you are hiring a legal representative to work and advocate for you. You have the right to “fire” your lawyer at any time if you are unsatisfied with his or her performance during your workers’ compensation case. However, switching lawyers in the middle of a claim can have consequences. It is recommended to explore the potential pros and cons of hiring a new lawyer before making any decisions.

Reasons You May Wish to Change Attorneys 

You generally do not need a specific reason or explanation for terminating a contract with an attorney and hiring a new one for your workers’ comp case. As a client, you can change lawyers during a pending claim for any reason or no reason at all. That being said, there are several common reasons why this occurs: 

  • Failure to meet expectations
  • Lack of experience in workers’ compensation law
  • Lack of communication or transparency about your case
  • Failure to protect your best interests
  • Conflict of interests
  • Not enough time to dedicate to your case
  • An attorney who is rude or belittling

Note that you cannot change attorneys just because your current lawyer has failed to achieve the results that you wanted for your case. No attorney can guarantee positive case results. If you believe that you lost your case due to your lawyer’s incompetence (“ineffective counsel”), however, you may be eligible for an appeal or a new trial.

Things to Consider Before Changing Your Workers’ Comp Lawyer 

If you are unhappy with how your lawyer has been handling your workers’ compensation case, consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of switching to a new lawyer. For example, it may be difficult to find a new lawyer who will take your case if someone else has already been working on it. 

If your original lawyer took your case on a contingency fee basis, meaning the attorney’s fee is charged as a percentage of the amount won, your new lawyer must split this fee with your first lawyer. Switching lawyers in the middle of a claim can also mean more work for your new lawyer, as he or she will need to review what has already been done. This may be enough to make lawyers pass on your case.

How to Change Your Workers’ Comp Lawyer

If you wish to proceed with changing lawyers during your workers’ compensation case, start by reviewing your original contract to check for any fees or costs associated with ending things early. Find a new workers’ compensation attorney and communicate with him or her about your reasons for wanting to change. Request your case files from your old lawyer to give to your new lawyer.

Coordinate with your new lawyer to transition your workers’ compensation case as smoothly as possible. Be sure to inform them about any upcoming deadlines or hearings that you are aware of. You may need to notify the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation that you have changed attorneys, or your first attorney may have to file a motion of substitution with the Bureau. 

Switching lawyers in the middle of a case can be complicated. However, it may be in your best interests if you are not happy with how your current lawyer is handling things. For more information about this process, contact the Pittsburgh workers’ compensation lawyers at Dallas W. Hartman. P.C. for a free consultation.

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