The answer is "Yes."

There are two things your new attorney, attorney #2, will want to know.

  1. What's the problem with attorney #1?
  2. How much legal work has attorney #1 done in your case?

Oftentimes an injured victim who has selected an attorney and is unhappy usually has various reasons for their unhappiness. Maybe there is a clear lack of communication.

Maybe there are different strategies that you, the injured victim, want your attorney to take, and your attorney refuses.

Maybe there are other reasons.

Attorney #2 will want to know which of these problems is giving you the most aggravation leading you to call him. Switching attorneys is relatively simple and straightforward. You can do it at any time.

There are two additional things you need to know when you decide to switch lawyers.

  1. If your attorney has spent money to investigate your case, he would then be entitled to receive and be reimbursed the money that he has paid up until the point you decided to go to attorney #2.
  2. In addition, the attorney would also have a lien against whatever attorneys fees are generated if you are successful and obtain compensation in your lawsuit either through a settlement or a jury verdict.

What this really means is that there is only one attorney's fee in a medical malpractice case, negligence case or even a wrongful death case in New York.

If you are successful, you will be required to reimburse the attorney money that he has spent to prosecute your case and then you are required to pay him a fee in accordance with medical malpractice cases or negligence cases here in New York.

Since there is only one lawyer's fee, if attorney #2 decides to take over your case, he will then receive a fee, if you are successful, and then must split that fee with attorney #1. The exact percentage of which attorney gets how much of the lawyer's fee is something that the attorneys will work out on their own.

In some cases the attorneys are unable to reach an agreement based upon the amount of work each one has performed and the result they were able to accomplish. In that instance, the attorneys may have to fight their dispute in court and have the trial judge reach a decision about the percentage that each attorney is to receive for their legal fees.

As always, if you have legal questions I encourage you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected]. I answer legal questions like yours every day and I welcome your call.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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Charles A. Pilcher MD FACEP 05/24/2013 02:55 PM
Two questions: 1) If a client is truly SWITCHING attorneys, and pays all bills due to attorney #1 at the time of the switch, why does attorney #1 retain any right to a future settlement reached by attorney #2? 2) Does attorney #2 have access to whatever information was developed by attorney #1 in such a situation? How does that play out, especially in the typical situation in which the client seeks a second opinion because attorney #1 has told the client that he/she does not have a case?
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