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Here’s something that most people who hire personal injury attorneys in Illinois don’t know. You can fire them if they aren’t doing a good job. Now you probably shouldn’t do this without having a new firm in place, but if your lawyer has created the impression that once they are hired you can’t get rid of them, they are lying.
So when should you fire your attorney?
For me, if in the first six or so months on a case, there are clear customer service issues, it’s a huge red flag that you hired the wrong firm. If they aren’t calling you back or not doing what they said they would do, that’s a huge problem. It’s often predictive that you won’t be happy with them when the case is done and will realize you would have ended up with more money elsewhere.
The biggest worry callers have is that they will owe this bad firm money. In almost every case, if they haven’t filed a lawsuit or obtained a settlement offer, they will get nothing. And even when they’ve done some work, typically the new attorney will end up splitting their fee with the first firm. In other words, it almost never costs you anything to switch although you should of course discuss this with the new firm before you hire them.
I’ve been told that some law firms add clauses to their client contracts that state you can’t get rid of them. Those contracts are illegal and not enforceable even if you’ve signed them.
The reality is that most personal injury law firms in Chicago do a good job and don’t lose clients. We get calls from clients of many of the bad ones. There is one notorious firm that advertises a ton, but then their clients discover that not only are the lawyers in the ads not in Illinois, but they also aren’t even licensed here! They hire local attorneys to handle their cases, but the consumer isn’t getting what they really thought they were. To top it off, I’ve been told that they try to take 40% of what they recover which is insane to me.
Another infamous Chicago injury lawyer has relocated to Florida and has their staff allegedly fax down all information about their cases. Nothing reportedly can happen without their say-so. This of course slows down the case speed and is a prime example of not great service. Needless to say, many of their clients aren’t happy because they can’t get answers.
The other type of call we get a lot is from someone who got into a car accident or had some other injury and they hired a lawyer they used for a divorce, real estate closing, or something not related to injuries at all. That lawyer assures them that they can handle the case. In many instances, the attorney is just thinking of themselves and thinks they can make an easy buck by taking on a case they aren’t qualified to handle. These cases are much harder than they seem and can involve unique issues like medical liens, hidden insurance, bogus denials, etc. Before you hire an attorney for an accident, you should ask them how many personal injury lawsuits they’ve filed in the last five years. If the answer isn’t in the hundreds or thousands, you are at the wrong place. And if you realize they are in over their head, you can and should get rid of them.
Bottom line is that it’s your case and your life. You have to do what is best for you and that means getting the best representation possible. And if that requires you to fire one firm to get another then so be it.