Can You Fire Your Lawyer, Even After Signing a Contract?
What happens if you hire a personal injury firm for your injury case and realize that you made a mistake?
The short answer is nothing happens and you can leave without any concern of being charged for that time. The fact is that most every Florida personal injury lawyer works for free unless you hire them and then they win. So, the first meeting and all meetings for that matter are free until you hire a firm. Hiring a personal injury firm in Florida requires that you sign that firm’s contingency fee agreement. This agreement is virtually the same in all Florida personal injury firms since the Florida Bar requires that each firm use a standard form for this purpose.
Not The Same Person As Advertised?
But if you meet with a personal injury lawyer and the person is not the same person who was in the advertisement for the firm or the person does not seem as qualified as they sounded in their advertisement, then you should thank them for their time and let them know you want time to consider their firm along with others.
This is an important decision and will impact your life forever. You should not feel pressured to hire any lawyer simply because they agreed to meet with you. They agreed to meet with you for FREE and making you feel like you must hire them is just not part of the deal.
Here Are Some Things to Look for During the First Meeting:
• Are you meeting with the lawyer that led you to the firm in the first place?
• If not, will that lawyer be involved in your case and are they even located in this particular office? There are many firms advertising in Pensacola that only have small satellite offices here and the advertisements are run by the main lawyers who work in other cities in Florida and in same cases other states. So ask questions about who will be handling your file start the finish.
• Is that lawyer meeting with you or is some support staff meeting with you? If it is not a lawyer that is meeting with you at the first meeting then how are they going to have time for you during the case. The first meeting should be the “good” first impression and if not showing up is their idea of a “good” first impression, its going to be a long case. Remember most personal injury cases last between 6 and 18 months.
• If you feel pressure to sign anything, there must be a reason they are applying pressure. No law firm worth having is going to make you feel like you have to hire them. In fact, most lawyers worth having should make you feel free to take as much time as you need. They should be completely secure with their qualifications so that even if you left without signing you would end up returning to sign with them later.
• What if I sign a contract hiring a personal injury firm and then get home and realize that I should have considered another firm first? That is no problem since all of the Florida personal injury contracts have a 3 day grace period in which you can cancel for any reason. Further, even beyond the 3 days, so long as the firm has not engaged in substantial action or expense on your behalf which usually doesn’t occur for months after signing, your cancellation of the contract will not cause you any expense. All that is required is that you notify the firm that you wish to terminate the agreement hiring them. I would suggest that this be done via US Mail or email, making certain that you retain a copy for you file. You should confirm the email address before sending. Many clients feel intimidated by the idea of firing a lawyer they just hired. You should not.
The First Three Days
In the first three days, the firms actions on your behalf at their peril since the contract allows an absolute right of cancellation. Thereafter, so long as the firm has not engaged in substantial work for you, they do not have a basis to claim anything in your case. Even if they did, whomever you end up hiring will handle those expenses and see that the old firm’s costs (if any) are paid back once the case is completed.
If you find yourself in the situation where you signed a Florida personal injury lawyer contingency fee contract and regret it, do not worry. The Florida Bar anticipated this situation when it required the 3 day grace prior clause in all agreements and further requires that Florida lawyers allow their clients freedom to chose their lawyer so long as substantial work has not already occurred.
If you have questions about this situation and need advice, you can consult with us at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HIREJOE.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.