“Has he come armed, then? she asked anxiously. Has he brought a pistol or a sword? Oh, no, Mam! he said. It’s worse. He’s brought a lawyer!”
- Diana Gabaldon, Voyager
There’s no denying it, lawyers almost always find themselves surrounded by negative connotations. There’s so much hate, lawyers created a national holiday mandating you show them some love. Research has even been conducted to broach the question – “Why do people hate lawyers so much?”
Despite the negativity surrounding the profession, many people will undoubtedly find themselves in a relationship with a lawyer at some point in their lives. The relationship often begins because of a personal injury claim, i.e., someone is injured in an auto accident and ultimately hires a lawyer to purse and defend their rights. This article outlines 4 secrets to cultivating a good relationship with your lawyer which will increase the chances of your case’s success and [gasp] even lead you to a loving relationship with your lawyer.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Personal injury cases are extremely time sensitive. Personal injury claims do not prove themselves, and the longer you wait, the more likely evidence is to be lost or destroyed. Whether evidence is lost or destroyed depends on what actions are taken, or not taken, following an accident. Consulting an attorney immediately following an accident has many advantages.
An attorney can advise you to take steps that you may have not thought about, which could ultimately serve to increase the value of your claim. For example, I advise my clients to record as much information as they can recall about an auto accident and the sooner they do this, the better. Personal injury claims take time and often depositions are held years after the actual occurrence of the accident. By writing down key facts shortly after the accident, you can preserve evidence which may become pertinent later down the road.
ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH
Many people do not give full disclosure to their attorneys. Giving full disclosure to your attorney right off the bat is key. Attorneys want clients who are honest because the credibility of a personal injury claimant is always assessed.
Always tell the truth because many times things you think could hurt your case may not, and if it may hurt your case, there could be ways of legally avoiding disclosure of that information. For example, I had a former client who lied to me about his criminal history in our initial meeting, and who also lied to the representative of the insurance company about his criminal history in a deposition. Following the deposition, the insurance company hired a private investigator to research his criminal history and because he lied about it, the insurance company denied his personal injury claim. The insurance company reasoned – if he is not honest about his criminal history, he will not be honest about his injury complaints. Had my client disclosed his criminal history to me, I could have lodged a legal objection on his behalf because the criminal history was not relevant to the claim nor was he required to disclose it because the conviction occurred over 20 years ago.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Personal injury claims are just that – personal. It’s critical that you keep your attorney up to speed on your medical treatment and the status of your injuries. I ask all of my clients to send me an e-mail update about their treatment status once a month. By receiving monthly updates, I can be sure my clients have access to the treatment they need. Here are a few key thoughts to take away on attorney communication
KNOW WHERE YOU STAND
An attorney cannot promise you results. That being said, a few questions I ask my clients are: What would be the best result for you? What do you expect from me? What do you expect from this case? By asking these simple questions, I get to know what my clients are looking for and what my clients want from me. Everyone wants something different and at the end of the day I strive to customize each of my clients’ experiences so I can tailor my actions and my pursuit of their case to a result we can all be happy with. If your attorney doesn’t ask you any questions along these lines, you need to ask them. Knowing where you stand is always a good thing.
Author Information: Learning to love a lawyer can be hard, but some make it easier. Hannah Salter, a Louisiana auto accident attorney, wrote this article. She is setting out to change the way the world looks at lawyers. You can read more about her here.