Can I fire my attorney and settle on my own without paying the attorney 1/3 of the settlement amount?

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Can I fire my attorney and settle on my own without paying the attorney 1/3 of the settlement amount?

I was in an accident in which I was found 0% liable. The insurance company was trying to settle while I was still receiving treatment and was calling me three times a week. I hired a lawyer that won’t pursue anything until a year after the accident. She has not yet even notified the insurance company that she is representing me. I have finished treatment and would like to settle. Can I fire my attorney and settle on my own? If I do, will I have to pay her 1/3 of the settlement amount as agreed on? I understand that she might be able to get me more than I can on my own but I need to settle now.

Asked on October 23, 2011 under Personal Injury, Wisconsin

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

An attorney can be fired with or without cause.  It would be advisable to read the retainer agreement you signed with this attorney very carefully to see what the attorney will be claiming as a fee if fired prior to settlement.  Generally, an attorney will have a lien which authorizes the attorney to charge an hourly amount (stated in the retainer agreement) if the attorney's representation in the case ends prior to settlement.  The exact hourly rate should be stated in the retainer agreement.  The number of hours the attorney has worked on the case multiplied by the hourly rate determines the amount of the fee.  This is generally what occurs in this situation, but your retainer agreement may have different provisions regarding the attorney's fee under these circumstances.


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