Is it easy to change lawyers in the middle of my personal injury claim?

If you are pursuing a personal injury claim, one of the issues you may be faced with is wanting to change lawyers part way through the process. While the ideal situation would be for you to instruct the same lawyer throughout the entire claim process, sometimes unforeseen circumstances arise where it makes it appropriate to change lawyers.  Some of the reasons you might seek to change lawyers’ part way through your personal injury claim include not trusting your lawyer, you don’t feel like the lawyer listens to you or your needs, you have a hard time communicating with your lawyer or you are uneasy about your lawyers’ fee structure.

Whatever the reason may be, changing lawyers in the middle of a personal injury claim is definitely do-able, and the main thing is that you find a new lawyer who is going to better suit your needs. In terms of the logistics, such as cost and procedure, they are usually pretty simple.

The cost of swapping personal injury lawyers will typically be the cost of an initial consultation with your new lawyer and any fees that the new lawyer will bill you for time spent reviewing your file and getting themselves up to speed with where your claim is at. Depending the complexity of your claim, and the stage you are up to in the claims process, this fee will vary. Any legal fees associated with this will be debited on a no win no fee basis, the same as the rest of your legal fees, meaning you will not have to pay unless or until you have a successful compensation payout from your claim.

Now a lot of personal injury lawyers in Australia offer a free initial consultation, in which case, meeting with your potential new lawyer would not cost you anything at all. You may even wish to consider shopping around and attending free consultations with several different lawyers until you find a lawyer who you feel comfortable working with.

In terms of fees already billed by your previous lawyers, the law in Australia is that you will be liable for these fees only if you successfully pursue your personal injury claim. Let’s say you change lawyers half way through the claims process, your first lawyer may have done $10,000 worth of work for you to date;  you find a new lawyer you’re happy with and instruct them to take over your personal injury claim. Your new lawyer will usually have you sign a “transfer authority” which enables them to request that your file be transferred from your previous lawyer so that they can begin working.

Your previous lawyer is entitled to withhold the file from you until you make a written undertaking to them that you will pay them $10,000 for work done to the point of transfer, only in the event that you are successful in your claim. This means, you essentially have to promise your previous lawyer that they will be paid for the work they completed if you eventually win your claim. Once you sign this undertaking, the previous lawyer must transfer your file to your new lawyer. Be aware, your previous lawyer cannot demand that you pay them their legal fees at the time of transfer.

The ‘no win no fee’ rule safe guards you against becoming liable for legal fees, even where you change lawyers, in the event that your claim fails, as well as if you decide to drop the claim entirely.

Thus, changing lawyers in the middle of your personal injury claim is actually a very simple thing to do, and will usually cost very little, if anything at all, with all fees being payable only if you eventually win your matter.

At Corney & Lind Lawyers, we offer a free initial consultation, meaning that you can have an obligation free meeting with one of our personal injury lawyers to see if we are a good fit for your needs. We are also happy to negotiate the file transfer on your behalf, so that the stress of changing lawyers is minimal for you. If you wish to discuss transferring your file, please contact our offices on (07) 3253 0011 or send your enquiry via the comment spaces on this webpage.

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