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I was injured in a motorcycle accident near Appleton. It wasn’t my fault. I hired a lawyer and we filed a lawsuit against the truck driver who turned in front of me, but I don’t like some of the decisions my lawyer has made about my case. Can I fire my lawyer?

Yes, you can fire your lawyer. However, you might decide that firing your lawyer isn’t the smartest idea, after you read this whole article.

Who’s the boss?

The fact is, you are the employer here. Your lawyer is your employee. You hired him, and if you find his performance unsatisfactory, then you can fire him.

But your power as “boss” goes beyond this. Your case is your case. Your lawyer cannot commit to anything without your approval. Your lawyer can’t accept a settlement with the insurance company unless you give your okay—and he can’t stop you if you want to accept that settlement, either.

You say you don’t like all the decisions your lawyer has made, but he cannot put any decisions into place unless you give the go-ahead. So are you complaining that you didn’t stand up to your lawyer? You can’t fairly blame your attorney for that.

Are you getting the best legal advice?

Perhaps you don’t like the advice you’re getting from your lawyer. If it’s a matter of not understanding why he is recommending some course of action, you have the right to ask he explain his reasoning. Don’t let him confuse you with legal jargon. Tell him to teach you to understand why he wants things done in a particular way. Part of his job is to persuade you to accept his advice, and that means you may need some fine points of law explained in detail. A good personal injury lawyer should have no problem with that.

On the other hand, your attorney is —we hope—approaching your case with an extensive background in Wisconsin motorcycle accident lawsuits. He may be giving the best advice possible in light of the specific details of your case. It may not be fair to blame your attorney if your particular case is only likely to have a modest recovery, or if other barriers exist to your getting what you think you deserve.

Can you afford to fire your lawyer?

Most Wisconsin personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis: they do not charge you for their legal services at the start, but instead take a portion of your eventual settlement or damage award. The precise amount your lawyer gets will be spelled out in the representation agreement or contract you signed after he decided to take on your case; it’s generally 30 to 40 percent of the total.

If you fire your lawyer after he has performed work on your case, he is still entitled to be paid for the work he’s done. In some cases—again, this depends on your representation agreement—he may be able to bill you at his usual hourly rate for the time he spent on your case. This would be presented as a lien, or claim on your eventual settlement.

Otherwise, your attorney may be able to hold to the original contingency claim, and take his portion—one-third, or 35 percent, or forty percent, or whatever you originally agreed to—from your final settlement.

That’s why it might not be in your best financial interest to fire your lawyer. If your first lawyer claims 35 percent of your settlement, and the lawyer you hired second claims 40 percent, then you only get a quarter of the settlement amount. That may not leave you with enough to cover your medical expenses and lost wages after a serious Wisconsin motorcycle collision.

Of course, it’s your decision. Only you can decide if getting rid of a lawyer you don’t trust or respect is worth the financial penalty you will face down the road.

The Best Approach: Hire the Right Lawyer in the First Place

At Hupy and Abraham, we’ve been fired by clients before. There have also been occasions when clients, dissatisfied with their original lawyers, have asked us to represent them. It happens in every law practice. We don’t encourage anyone to leave their current lawyers, but we recognize that sometimes personalities clash.

Our Appleton motorcycle crash lawyers think that the best way to guarantee a potential client can be happy with our services is to make sure he understands our law firm from the outset. That’s why we will give potential clients a FREE copy of our book, The Ultimate Guide for Motorcycle Accident Victims, whenever they request it when calling for a free consultation about their case.

You can contact us at 920-882-8382 (local) or (800) 800-5678 (toll-free) today to learn how we can help you with your Wisconsin motorcycle accident lawsuit. Getting to know your attorney’s views and values is the essential first step to finding representation you can be comfortable with.