It may be really tempting to think that rather than do your homework before hiring a lawyer you’ll just take a chance that the lawyer promising he can make you rich really can. After all, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll just fire him and hire someone else.
It’s typically a little more complicated than that. Can you terminate your lawyer in Georgia? Yes you can, but he may have already done things that affect the ability of the next lawyer you hire to recover what she thinks the case should be worth. Here are some examples of what I’ve seen when people called me after firing their original lawyer.
Rather than the client seeing a doctor of her own choosing, the lawyer sends the client to a chiropractor or doctor who runs up a big bill but has not thoroughly diagnosed the client or effectively treated her injuries. It is very important to get good medical treatment from the start of your case. You may have been having symptoms of some serious injury, but if those symptoms haven’t been properly treated and documented, it can be very difficult to prove that the injury was caused by your accident.
Also, many times the first lawyer has already been negotiating settlement the case with the insurer and offered to settle the case for less than I think it is worth. Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t un-ring a bell.”? When your lawyer starts talking dollars and cents to an insurer, he’s rung a bell. It’s very difficult for me to ever get an insurer to voluntarily pay more than a previous lawyer offered on a case. It’s very frustrating to review a case that I feel certain could have been settled with the insurer for considerably more than the previous lawyer offered. While that may can be fixed by going to trial, filing suit and going to trial in a personal injury case in Georgia involves risk, usually several thousand dollars in expenses, and a lot of stress on the client.
Finally, changing lawyers mid stream can give the insurance company the impression that there is something wrong with a client’s case. This is true even if it’s the lawyer who is the problem.
There is no reason to rush into hiring a lawyer. Don’t hire a lawyer on impulse because he has a flashy personal injury ad or makes big promises to get you a wallet full of money for your injury. Do your homework. In my final article in this series , I’ll discuss what sort of homework you should do.