Once you have hired a personal injury attorney, you may think that your work is done. However, there are certain guidelines you should follow once you have retained an attorney, so that you have a good understanding of your case’s progression and relationship with your attorney.
Retaining a Personal Injury Attorney is a “Personal” Choice
The most important thing to remember when retaining a personal injury attorney is that this person will be handling one of the most critical events to happen in your life. Your personal injury attorney must be someone that you trust, respect and like and who listens to your questions and concerns. Ultimately, choosing a personal injury attorney comes down to trust. If you cannot trust your attorney, you have the wrong lawyer.
Hiring an attorney does not mean you are free of obligations. Every client has certain responsibilities. Here is a list of common “Dos and Don’ts” after you hire a personal injury attorney.
- Do ask questions. It is your attorney’s responsibility to ensure that you understand everything that is happening at all times and that you are in full agreement with all of his or her decisions. It is up to you, as the client, to ask questions when you do not understand something. Do not be afraid to “look silly” by asking a question. Remember, you are not a lawyer, and there are no foolish questions except the ones that remain unasked! A good attorney would always prefer you let him or her know if you do not understanding something.
- Do supply all information in a timely manner. Nothing is more frustrating than a backlog of requested information that holds up a personal injury case. Remember, when your attorney asks you to supply information, it is because he or she wants to move your case forward. Be sure to give the attorney all the information necessary to work on your case as effectively as possible.
- Don’t lie or withhold information. You may think that certain facts will harm your case and that it would be better to keep them to yourself. Actually, the opposite is almost always true. There is nothing more devastating to a personal injury case than when the opposing side finds out information your own attorney does not have. It is critical that you give your attorney all the information necessary to make informed decisions about your case. Even if the truth is embarrassing or you believe it may cause you to lose the case, you must be honest with your lawyer.
- Don’t change attorneys without written notification. If you find that you cannot deal with your current attorney, or that he or she does not meet your expectations, you have the right to change attorneys. However, your former attorney will need to be notified in writing and you may be responsible for certain fees or other charges related to your attorney’s work up until the point that you were no longer a client. The amount you owe will be dependent on your fee agreement with your former attorney.
Retaining a personal injury attorney is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. You owe it to yourself to choose wisely. However, once you have retained an attorney, you also owe it to yourself to do the things that will advance your case most effectively. Honesty and transparency with your attorney, as well as good communication, is the best way for you to build a relationship of trust and ultimately recover the maximum amount of damages possible.