Get A Second Opinion

When to Get a Second Legal Opinion

You haven’t been yourself since the accident. You cannot work. Chronic pain prevents you from getting out of bed on your own. Worse yet, things with your current personal injury lawyer aren’t working out. So, what now?

You may get a second opinion from another attorney if you’re dissatisfied with the legal help you receive. Here, you can learn about seeking a second opinion from a professional personal injury lawyer in Atlanta and what it could mean for your case.

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Some Things Are out of Your Control

While your lawyer can do everything possible to advance your case, there are some things they cannot control. For instance, a lawyer cannot control how quickly your case progresses. They can work to avoid certain complications, but they cannot expedite the process itself or reverse any deadlines that may have passed.

Some things outside of your lawyer’s control during your partnership include:

  • The other party’s willingness to settle
  • The cost of your financial damages
  • The speed at which the other party communicates
  • State law
  • A judge and jury’s ultimate ruling
  • The availability of certain forms of evidence
  • The court’s scheduling and docket volume

Still, in the face of various complications, your lawyer should keep you abreast of all developments. That way, you remain informed about your case’s details.

When You Should Seek a Second Opinion

You have the right to part ways with a lawyer if things don’t work out, so you may consider getting a second opinion on your case if:

Your Lawyer Doesn’t Return Your Messages

You have the right to know what’s going on with your case and expect periodic updates from your lawyer. If you can’t reliably connect with your attorney, this can leave you feeling uncertain and anxious about your personal injury case’s outcome.

If your lawyer or the firm doesn’t respond to your emails, texts, or phone calls, you have the right to seek a second opinion from another attorney. During your conversation, ask about how the lawyer intends to keep in contact throughout your case. This could give you the information you need to partner with someone else.

Your Lawyer Doesn’t Share What Constitutes a Fair Settlement

Your lawyer has many jobs. One of those jobs involves calculating your economic and non-economic damages, then pursuing that sum from the responsible party. If your lawyer doesn’t understand the cost of your damages or withholds that figure from you, this could be a red flag. After all, if your lawyer doesn’t know what constitutes a fair settlement, how can they fight for that amount?

No lawyer will estimate your damages’ value at first glance. However, they can explain what factors could increase or reduce how much you can seek.

Your Lawyer Tells You to Stop Seeking Medical Attention

Your lawyer is not a medical professional. They should defer all decisions about your health to your healthcare team. If your lawyer tells you to stop seeking medical attention, this not only puts your health at risk but your case’s outcome, too.

Regarding medical care, you should:

  • Follow your doctor’s orders
  • Seek a doctor’s opinion if you have not already done so

A lawyer who attempts to give you medical advice isn’t acting in your best interest. If you find yourself in this situation, you could benefit from seeking a second opinion from another personal injury lawyer.

You’ve Grown to Distrust Your Lawyer

Your current lawyer may have won your trust earlier. Yet, over time, your relationship may have changed. You may have reason to believe that your lawyer isn’t pursuing the best possible outcome.

Maybe:

  • You feel as though your lawyer is charging you for small, insignificant things.
  • Your lawyer gives you conflicting information.
  • The law firm itself isn’t easily reachable.
  • You’ve learned unscrupulous things about your current representative.

You might also get bad vibes from your legal team. If you have a gut feeling that things tell you so, it’s best to trust that instinct and possibly seek a second opinion.

Your Lawyer or Their Team Treats You With Disrespect

Your lawyer should play hardball with the negligent party—not you. You have every right to be treated with respect and dignity throughout your case’s progression. Under no circumstances should you tolerate manipulative tactics, bullying, or pressure. Your lawyer should treat you as they would a trusted family member or colleague.

The Benefits of Changing Lawyers

If you’re unsure about working with your current attorney, some benefits of switching include:

Peace of Mind

You may have a lot of anxiety about proceeding with your current legal team. By working with a team that better suits your needs, you can rest easy knowing they’re on your side.

Better Accessibility

When you partner with a new lawyer, they likely know why you parted ways with your old one. If they know communication was an issue, they may go the extra mile to respond promptly to your inquiries. Some lawyers even give clients their own cellphone numbers, making help just a phone call away.

Flexible Payment Plans

You may want to work with another lawyer because of concerns about your payment plan. You may not feel comfortable paying retainers or hourly rates. So, you might instead seek a second opinion from a lawyer who works on a contingency-fee basis. Many personal injury firms operate on this arrangement.

Here, you don’t pay anything until your case reaches a fair outcome. Compensation for your lawyer’s help comes from the compensation they secure for you, whether that’s through a settlement or court award.

Specific Experience

Some lawyers take any case that comes across their desk. However, the state’s best criminal defense lawyer may not have the same skillset that a personal injury lawyer would have.

If you’re unsure about your lawyer’s experience and qualifications, you could find a personal injury lawyer who specifically manages personal injury claims. Their familiarity with civil law, local courts, and other professionals could bolster your case.

The Disadvantages of Changing Lawyers

While there are many benefits to switching lawyers, it’s good to know about the disadvantages, too, such as:

It May Extend Your Case’s Timeline

Your new lawyer may have to build your case from the ground up. This process can take time, especially if your lawyer already took months to get things started. Still, even though recovering compensation can take time, it’s important to remain patient.

Accepting a fast and easy settlement offer could leave you with out-of-pocket expenses. Your lawyer can do everything reasonably possible to keep your case on track and moving forward.

Your Previous Lawyer May Bill You for Their Time

Even though things didn’t work out with your previous lawyer, they still expect to receive payment for their time and efforts. How much you owe could depend on many things, including the length of your partnership.

Your previous lawyer should reveal how much you owe and give an itemized list. They shouldn’t just throw out a random number from spite or resentment.

Having to Establish a New Relationship

Working with a lawyer is more than a partnership; it’s a relationship that you foster over time. You may have anxieties about meeting a lawyer and their team, especially if your case has some sensitive details. However, this shouldn’t dissuade you from shopping around when it comes to finding a new representative.

Frequently Asked Questions About Getting a Second Legal Opinion

You deserve to have all your case-related questions answered. That way, you can plan your next steps and make decisions that are right for you. Some questions you may have include:

What if Your Current Lawyer Refuses To Drop Your Case?

Lawyers must abide by certain ethics rules—including those of the American Bar Association (ABA). The organization notes that, as a client, you have the right to terminate your lawyer’s services at any time, granted that you’re acting in a reasonable mental capacity.

If your previous lawyer doesn’t yield your case to another professional, they could violate various rules set in place. This could result in penalties that threaten their right to practice law.

What if the Court Doesn’t Let You Change Lawyers?

In the midst of litigation, if you want to change lawyers, a judge must approve it. For whatever reason, the judge may not approve this change. For instance, if your trial is scheduled for tomorrow night, and you want to change lawyers, a judge may not allow this request. The judge might not also approve a request if it’s clearly not in your best interest.

You have legal rights if the judge doesn’t approve your new legal partnership. What those options comprise depends on your case.

What’s the Legal Process for Changing Lawyers?

There really isn’t a legal process for changing lawyers. When you elect to partner with a new lawyer, they’ll send a letter to your old one explaining the situation and terminating their services. You don’t have to “fire” your old lawyer. You don’t even have to talk to them.

What Are Some “Red Flags” I Should Look for When Researching Lawyers?

You should always trust your instinct if something feels weird about a personal injury law firm.

Yet, some specific red flags to look for when searching for a new lawyer include:

  • Poor reviews. It’s normal to see a few negative reviews in a sea of positive ones. However, if most of the reviews seem troubling, you should continue your search.
  • An outdated website. A lawyer’s website should have routine updates. A website that offers outdated information or otherwise seems unattended could reflect poorly on a potential law firm.
  • They promise a certain outcome. No lawyer, no matter how experienced, should promise a specific financial outcome at the beginning of a case. A client should have reasonable expectations about their personal injury lawsuit or claim. Any false claims or empty promises could compromise your ability to make informed decisions.
  • They talk about how many cases they have. It’s one thing for a law firm to be successful and manage a lot of cases at once. However, during the first meeting, if a lawyer bemoans how much work they have, they might not have the resources to give your case individualized attention.

What to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer

The best personal injury lawyer for you depends on one thing: you. Your preferred communication style, expectations, and legal goals should all be at the forefront of your attorney’s mind.

When looking for an attorney who supports your intentions, considerations include:

  • The results on the law firm’s website. You want to rest easy knowing that a lawyer has resolved cases like yours. You could gain insight into their successes by reading their previous cases’ outcomes.
  • Accessibility. When you connect with a law firm, do you get its voicemail, or can you immediately chat with a representative? The answer could reflect on how well a lawyer communicates with their clients.
  • Their fee agreement. Working with a lawyer on a contingency-fee basis comes with many benefits. Mainly, because the lawyer doesn’t get paid until your case’s conclusion, they have a special incentive to “win” your claim. You might think twice about partnering with lawyers who charge by the hour or have other fee arrangements.

Personality. You want a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta who’s excited about working on your case and eager to answer your questions and address your concerns. Think about the foreseeable future and whether you can see yourself working with this person. If not, continue searching. If so, you could start a productive attorney-client relationship.

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    Buckhead Law Saxton Injury & Accident Lawyers, P.C. is a Personal Injury Law practice that is a advocate for the underserved in Atlanta.