Sometime during the course of a personal injury case, a case gets referred out to another lawyer. For many clients who do not understand what this means, they go into a sort of panic mode.
“Why wasn’t my case good enough for him/her?”
Often, when this happens, we will get calls from those people wanting to fire their lawyer and hire someone else because they are mad about being referred out.
Does this mean you have a bad case when your lawyer tells you that your case is being referred out?
The short answer is “No.”
Just because a lawyer refers your case out does not mean it is a bad case. There are several reasons why the attorney you contacted is referring you to another lawyer.
Five reasons why your attorney may refer your case to another lawyer:
- The case is not in the attorney’s area of practice: attorneys typically only practice in certain areas, such as family law or personal injury law. A personal injury lawyer will often not take a case that is outside of their established practice areas and will refer the case to an appropriate attorney.
- Specialization or a history of strong results with similar cases: a lawyer can’t specialize in every type of case. As such, they often look to other lawyers who do specialize in that area to help with clients, especially if the referral attorney has a history of strong results with similar cases.
- The lawyer’s docket is too full: if an attorney already has a full caseload, they may need to refer your case to another lawyer so that the case receives the attention it needs. Otherwise, it will just sit there when it could be moving forward.
- Taking the case alone is not profitable: in cases of mass tort or class action lawsuits, handling one of the cases by itself may not be profitable for the attorney. This is because the cost of proving the case may run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. By referring the case to an attorney who is handling many of these cases, the costs can be shared—making it more cost-effective for each client.
- The case requires a substantial amount of money and time: some cases require more attention or are more expensive for the lawyer. By giving a referral, the referring attorney gains extra help and resources.
It’s also important to note that Texas law has certain requirements for case referrals. Attorneys are required by law to disclose that they are referring your case in writing and they must disclose how the fee will be divided between attorneys. This information must be consented to in writing by the client. It may be done in the contract or in an addendum added later.
Also, the attorney’s original fee must be split between themselves and the referral attorney–this protects you from getting charged a double fee.
Remember that a referral does not mean that your case is unimportant or will receive less attention than other cases; a referral is often in the client’s best interest and will result in the time and attention your case deserves.