Working with one lawyer from the beginning to the end of the case is the ideal thing to do. However, this isn't always possible; in rare cases, either of you may decide to end the relationship for one reason or another. If this happens, your lawyer will want to be paid for the work he or she has done before contract termination. Depending on the reason for the termination, there are different ways of dealing with this.
You Decide To Switch Lawyers
If you have decided to switch lawyer, it means you are still interested in the case and want to win. Moreover, another attorney may only agree to continue with the case if it is worth pursuing (meaning you have a high probability of winning). In this case, your initial and subsequent attorney will work out an arrangement on how to share the fee.
If they fail to agree, then the first lawyer may place (via a lawsuit) a lien on your personal injury settlement. This entitles the attorney to a portion of your settlement in proportion to his or her fee just before the contract termination.
The Lawyer Terminates the Contract
If it's your attorney who decides to end the case and terminate your contract, then he or she may not be entitled to a fee. This is especially likely if you have been cooperating with the lawyer up to this point, and the termination of the contract is entirely up to him or her. For example, an attorney may work on a case for a short while only to realize that there is no way of collecting judgment (perhaps the defendant isn't insured and is bankrupt too).
This is usually the case because personal injury lawyers work on contingency. A contingency fee agreement means your lawyer only gets paid if he or she wins the case. This means he or she isn't entitled to any payment of he or she decides to end the case since he or she hasn't won anything and there is no judgment to collect.
You Decide To Quit the Case or Pursue It Yourself
If it's not the lawyer, but you, who decide to end the case, the attorney will demand his or her dues. After all, your personal injury lawyer has invested time and money into the case, and he or she has to recoup them. In fact, if you were thinking of using this route to avoid attorney fees, know that he or she has the right to sue you if you don't pay his or her dues. He or she may also instigate a lien lawsuit in case you go ahead and settle the case without his or her involvement.