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Is it common for an insurance company to replace the Defendants' Counsel in the middle of an ongoing personal injury case?

Chicago, IL |

In general, if an attorney representing a Defendant (or a group of Defendants) in a personal injury case is doing a poor job or not simply not getting the results the insurance company was hoping for, is it common or uncommon for the insurance company to replace Defendants' attorney with a different attorney?

Attorney Answers 8

  1. Best answer

    Think of lawyers for insurance companies as employees of insurance companies, because they are!

    There can be political issues, it can be a matter of caseload, or it can be a match up of the value of the case with the skills of that particular lawyer. Some "insurance defense" attorneys develop reputations of "always coming in below the offer" or getting juries to "never exceed the policy limits." Some work best with males, others with females, sometimes with certain judges, and sometimes they move firms and someone else must fill in. It's all part of it.

    Now, the most important player if you are the plaintiff is your own lawyer so focus on that.

    I don't know anything about your case, who the insurance company is, or anything else, but I can tell you this happens in some situations.

    Good luck in your case!

    Stephen L. Hoffman
    Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
    Chicago, IL

    This answer posted on Avvo is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship created or formed and you should not rely on this as legal advice. The suggestion is made that if you wish to protect your rights, you consult with an attorney immediately.

  2. It's not uncommon. The reason usually has more to do with politics moving the account to another law firm, than it does with the attorney doing a poor job. Sometimes, if a client is unhappy with a lawyer assigned by an insurance company, the company will assign another lawyer.

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  3. It happens more often for reasons having nothing to do with the attorney's handling of the case.

  4. Liability insurers generally retain the right to control the defense. It is not usually cost effective to change lawyers midstream. There could have been a conflict. You can ask the old and new lawyers to explain why this happened. You can also retain personal counsel to monitor insurance defense counsel and coverage concerns but you'll likely need to pay that lawyer yourself.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

  5. It happens for a variety of reasons--some of which may be regarding the performance of the attorney and some of which may have nothing to do with it. Generally, a client can discharge an attorney at any time for any reason(s).

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  6. it happens all the time and should be of no concern to you, the client. whatever choices they make regarding legal counsel may have to do with policy decisions, counsel fees, some dispute or something else which has absolutely nothing to do with your case.

  7. Having worked for insurance companies for 25 years as "panel counsel" or "outside counsel," I can tell you that replacement of outside attorneys (those not directly employed by the insurer as ”staff counsel") mid-case is a very rare occurrence. The five main reasons, in my experience, are:

    1. The assigned attorney is either performing poorly on the case or, more likely, is habitually late in reporting to the insurer. In this case, the insurer will likely reassign the case to another attorney in the same firm.

    2. The value of the case has substantially increased, usually due to a change in the nature of the injury, and the insurer wants to assign a more experienced attorney to the case from either the same or a different firm.

    3. The attorney/law firm handling the case subsequently develops a conflict of interest in representing the insured. In this case, the insurer faces sanctions and/damages if it does not promptly replace the attorney from another law firm.

    4. Attorneys and their insurer/clients often “tender" their insured's defense to another insurer since the other insurer also owes coverage to the mutual insured. If the other insurer accepts the tender of defense and agrees to provide coverage thereby taking over the case, they will usually always want their own attorney to handle the remainder of the case, and a change in law firms will occur.

    5. The last reason is somewhat similar to the first except the law firm, not necessarily a single attorney, falls out of favor with the insurance company and the insurer decides not to use the firm any longer.

  8. Based upon my experience,it is not common.Occasionally,a conflict develops or the insurance carrier decides that it needs a more experienced attorney but Ifind this to be rare.

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