Legal Guides

How Do I Change Solicitors in a Personal Injury Claim?

In a client-focused business, such as a law firm, solicitors just like all service providers are expected to provide a certain level of client care. What happens if the client is not satisfied with the client care they are receiving? Taking legal action for a personal injury claim can be a daunting task for somebody who is doing it for the first time. Even more daunting for a client is the thought of wanting to move their personal injury claim to another solicitor.

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Is Changing Solicitors a Difficult Process?

The process of moving your case to another solicitor is often referred to as ‘transferring your file from one solicitor to another’. What people don’t realise is that the process of changing solicitors is relatively very straightforward.

It is important to note also that it is not appropriate and often not possible for a solicitor to give a second opinion on a matter on which another solicitor has instructed, the reason being that the new solicitor will not have access to the file to advise.

Reasons for Changing Solicitor

There are numerous reasons as to why a person decides to move to another solicitor. This is a personal decision to make and should by no means affect the circumstances of the personal injury claim or the relationship with the new solicitor. Some of the most common reasons for a client to change solicitor include:

  • Lack of contact from your solicitor.
  • Dealing with a different person every time you contact the firm.
  • Concerns about the quality or credibility of the advice you are receiving.
  • The speed your case is advancing at.
  • Lack of effective communication between client and solicitor.
  • Feeling pressured into accepting an award which you feel is not appropriate.

How Can I Change My Solicitor?

It is, in fact, a relatively easy procedure to transfer files between solicitors. The Law Society of Ireland published a ‘Guide to Good Professional Conduct for Solicitor’, in which they have specified the transfer procedure:

1. The Transfer Request

Once you have decided on the solicitor you wish to move your case to, your new solicitor should send a request to your old solicitor for your file. Once received your old solicitor should then confirm the conditions of the transfer of the file and with this enclose details of fees (known as the bill of costs) owed to them for work completed on the case up to this point.

2. Review Bill of Costs

You (the client) have the right to review the bill of costs that your previous solicitor has sent and confirm your agreement with the costs outlined. If you have a dispute on the charges the solicitor has put on your case, or feel they may be excessive then you may seek to resolve this dispute through the taxation process (the process by which legal fees are examined by a third party) or via a complaint to The Law Society of Ireland.

Once there is agreement on the level of fees that your previous solicitor is requesting then it is often agreed that the fees will be seen as a debt on your personal injury case and deducted from any award from your claim. It is important to speak to your new solicitor about the topic of fees and come to an arrangement before starting the process.

3. File is Transferred

Once the fees have been taken care of, the file should then be transferred over from the old solicitor to your new solicitor and your new accident solicitor may then commence working on your file.

It is worth noting that all clients have the right to change solicitors if they feel it necessary to do so. Once the fees are paid to the old solicitor the file is technically the client’s property.

Qualities to Look for When Appointing a Solicitor

If you have been unsatisfied with the service of a previous solicitor it is pivotal that you find a new solicitor that you feel is better suited for both yourself and your personal injury claim. In order to find a solicitor that will be a more suitable fit for your situation there are a few signs to look for:

  • Does the solicitor have experience and are they accredited in their field?
  • Have they arranged to meet you face-to-face for a confidential discussion to talk about your case? It is critically important that the solicitor has a strong understanding of the details of the accident and the impact it may have had on your quality of life. Any documents obtained up to this point should be exchanged e.g. medical reports, CCTV reports, witness accounts.
  • Has the solicitor discussed the different options available to you in regards to funding the claim?
  • Have they informed you about an award for your claim? This would include different variables such as loss of earnings, medical bills incurred and future rehabilitation costs, for example.