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 By: Dan Baldyga

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Changing Lawyers: Your Legal Beagle & Insurance Adjuster

The devil visited a lawyers office and made him an offer, "I can make sure that some important things come to pass for you.  I'll increase your income five fold, your partners will love you, your client's will respect you, you'll have four months vacation each year plus live to be a hundred. All I require in return is that your wife and your children's soul's will rot and burn in hell for eternity."

The lawyer thought that over for a moment then asked, "What's the catch?"

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You had a motor vehicle accident and now you've slowly but surely come to the conclusion that you should have never hired your Legal Beagle, Attorney I.M. NotSoSwift. He's let your case lay at the bottom of the huge pile on his dog house floor for the usual reasons: Like, for example, because he's got more serious legal beef bones to chew on, or because he's rolling in so much loot that he'd rather wait awhile in case his cash flow tightens up or he's so swept up with much bigger personal injury cases that he’s too busy snarling and prowling around the courthouse to pay any attention to yours.

Every time you call the
Legal Beagle office to find out where your case is  you end up getting trotted around the dog pound. You ask if the insurance company has made an offer to settle your claim and all you get are, barks and growls that make no sense.

So, what's the solution to this problem? Your best bet is to send a "Give Him Hell" letter, Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. That will get his attention, and usually (unless he's a blazing idiot which some of them are) assure you of a prompt phone call. The letter should clearly state your complaints, and also your thoughts about hiring a new attorney - - quick like a bunny - - if the necessary steps aren't taken.

CHANGING LAWYERS: If all attempts at fixing your problem's with your
Legal Beagle can’t be accomplished you’ll probably begin to think about dumping him. This is an incredibly difficult move to make so it must be well thought out.

The following are some facts you should be aware of:

The new lawyer will ask you to contact the old lawyer telling him to turn your file over. If you've foolishly agreed to pay some of your old attorney's costs (above and beyond the "Contingency Fee Agreement" you've probably signed) the two of them will have to work that out. The old lawyer may agree to wait and not be paid his costs until the new lawyer has settled your case, but he may not! If that's the situation he’ll insist that you pony up all the bucks your case has cost him to date (he’ll pad that bill into the stratosphere!) before he turns it over to the new lawyer.

The new
Legal Beagle will want to review the file to determine if he wants to take it on. If it looks like some money can be made, the new lawyer may take it but that's a loooooong shot! Why? Because your case has to be an outstanding"goodie" - - with a huge payoff potential for the lawyer's one third cut - - his so-called "Contingency Fee". Both Legal Beagle's will usually be involved with that fee. Your old Beagle will want to cut a deal for ten percent of your new lawyers fee, or one third, one half, whatever. If there's not enough money to go around, the second lawyer won't be interested in taking on your case.

Should that comes to pass, you're gonna be left with an upset attorney. Chances are he'll let your case slip, slide and disappear into the nearest sewer were it will bubble and gurgle out of sight for years to come. That's the risk you take when you try to dump your
Legal Beagle.

Insurance companies react in various ways to a change in lawyers. They may view the switch (and/or attempted switch) as a sign that your case, or you, are a problem. This can result in an increased reluctance to settle. I know that to be true because for over 30 years, as Insurance Adjuster, as a Supervisor, as a Claims Manager and the last 5 years as a Trial Assistant - - 
I’ve been there , felt, seen and done that !

Such situation’s came to pass during my over 3 decades in the insurance claim industry. I’d be sitting in my office and one of my adjusters would come waltzing in. Our insured is Fred Fuddle, the claimant is Sam Inajam. Inajam’s lawyer is NotSoSwift. My adjuster has Fuddle’s file. He opens it, places it on my desk in front of me and says, “Hey Dan, I heard through the grapevine that Inajam and NotSoSwift aren’t hitting it off. NotSoSwift was over at the courthouse yesterday bitching up a storm about how Inajam wanted to dump him but was unable to because he owes NotSoSwift money he can‘t come up with.”

I’d look up, smile and say, “Okay, good. Let it stew in Limbo. The longer it takes the less it’ll cost us.”

On the other hand, if the claimant does pull off a switch, his new lawyer may breath needed energy into the case, causing the insurance company to start thinking seriously about settlement - - but that's a long shot. I wouldn’t bet on it!

Whichever way that cookie crumbles, don't contact the insurance company yourself. Changing lawyers is, at best, a tricky move and it’s something your new lawyer should handle. Unless your old
Legal Beagle and your new Legal Beagle get together and cook up some reasonably acceptable prefabrications (as to why the change is taking place) the switch might influence the insurance company into thinking that something is wrong. If they smell smoke, they'll conclude that a fire is probably blazing in several closet’s. Should that come to pass, your chance for a quick and reasonable settlement will do a swan dive - - right out the nearest window!

BOTTOM LINE: Be sure to pick a good lawyer to begin with, because you'll probably be stuck with that sucker right to the bitter end.

DISCLAIMER: The only purpose of this article GETTING RID OF YOUR LEGAL BEAGLE is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga, Mike Oliver nor CAR-ACCIDENT-ADVICE make any guarantee of any kind whatsoever; NOR do they purport to engage in rendering any professional or legal service: NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired IT IS THE INTERVAL'S  responsibility to obtain said services.

Dan Baldyga's third and latest book AUTO ACCIDENT PERSONAL INJURY INSURANCE CLAIM (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the internet at or This book reveals "How To" successfully handle your motor vehicle accident claim, so you won't be taken advantage of. It also goes into detail regarding BASE (The Baldyga Auto Accident Settlement Evaluation Formula).  THE BASE FORMULA explains how to determine the value of the "Pain and Suffering" you endured - - because of your personal injury!

Copyright (c) 2004 Daniel G. Baldyga. All Rights Reserved

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