Personal injury law is different than other types of law because we only get paid if you get paid.
It changes the client-lawyer dynamic and I believe it leads to a higher level of client service and getting the personal injury compensation you deserve.
That’s why, in a personal injury lawsuit, both lawyers and clients have a responsibility to each other. When you hire us, you’re trusting us to help you. When we take your case, we’re trusting you too.
It always makes me think of that scene in Jerry McGuire where Jerry begs his client to ‘HELP ME HELP YOU!”
Sometimes that is how it feels! But here are few simple ways you can help me help you…
1. Be Honest
Honesty goes two ways because, when I take your case, I’m taking a risk based on good faith. It’s important to be honest about everything. The more I know, the more I can help you.
For example, a client who wasn’t previously able to work but has found other work that doesn’t cause them pain needs to be upfront about this development.
Another issue is disclosing former medical issues. Better to be upfront because, I promise you, they will come out through disclosure.
Insurance companies can be ruthless
They often use surveillance as a tactic to discredit people. For example, if you say you can’t work, they may see that you’re not working (fair enough). However, they may also see you dancing away at your brother’s wedding. It may not be 100% on point, but clearly you’ve mislead us about your ability to function.
A picture is worth a 1000 words and, if a jury sees that picture, they may be swayed and stop trusting you.
This is why it’s always better to be upfront. As your lawyer, I want to do everything I can to get you as much money as possible. If you’re caught being dishonest about something, you could jeopardize the entire suit.
2. Be an Active Participant in Your Case
There are some things that we simply can’t do on your behalf, like working closely with your GP.
In these instances, it’s important for you to be an active participant and make those appointments yourself. The way I see it, this is your life, and you have one shot at this.
We understand that you are in a stressful situation, but now is not the time to step back. It’s frustrating when a client consistently doesn’t have time.
Remember that we don’t get paid unless you get paid, but we do incur the expenses upfront. So we need to know that we’ve got a committed and active partner in you.
3. Ask Questions
An informed client is a good client to have. I fully recommend that you do a bit of research. Questions are a big part of staying informed and you have to know the questions to ask.
In my experience, most issues between a client and their lawyer are due to misunderstandings. It’s true, we lawyers aren’t always good at explaining things! If you don’t understand something, stop the lawyer and get them to re-explain. Get them to re-explain five times if you need to.
I know it can be intimidating to deal with a lawyer, but you have to remember that your lawyer is working for YOU. It’s important that you understand what is happening in your case and, even if your lawyer occasionally appears impatient, he or she will appreciate your level of engagement and willingness to communicate.
4. Stay in Contact
This is a very simple, but often overlooked issue: If you change your phone number, email or mailing address, let us know! It can take 2-3 years to resolve a case and a lot can happen in that time.
There are times when we may need to reach you immediately – perhaps the insurance company has made an offer. I can’t accept an offer on your behalf and, when time is of the essence, I must be able to reach you. If I have no idea that you’re visiting relatives in Iowa and no way to reach you…well, need I say more?
Along the same line is letting us know if things change in your life. For example, if you decide to take a new job, definitely let your lawyer know. (FYI, your lawyer should never advise you not to move on with your life for the sake of the lawsuit. Your well-being trumps everything. )
Accept that, for the next 2-3 years, your lawyer is going to be your new best friend. While this may make many of you turn pale, just think of all the lawyer jokes you can share!
Lastly, get the personal injury compensation you deserve by working well with your lawyer.