Personal Injury Clients: Best Practice
Staying active throughout the process is important regardless of the lawyer you retain. If your case has been shuffled off to an associate, your involvement is especially critical. You should insist on receiving copies of all correspondences your lawyer sends out on your behalf. You can even ask for copies of all letters from the insurance company and its lawyers.
The only way you can know for sure that your lawyer is being straight with you is if you have access to the file. Since the lawyer knows you are keeping a watchful eye, he or she will be sure not to back burner your case. In other words, he or she will know that unless he or she stays very active, you will be calling with difficult questions. It is your right to know what is going on at all times with your case. It is also your right to have a lawyer who will aggressively pursue a rapid and fair settlement of your case. Do not accept anything less.
After the initial interview with the lawyer, wait a week or so before you call to find out how things are going. You will want to know if witnesses have been contacted, if a request for the police report has been made, and so on. Follow up a couple weeks later and then perhaps once a month after that. Of course, if specific questions come up, you should feel free to call anytime.
The Problem Client
In keeping your case active, you do not want to turn into a problem client. Problem clients call every other day, often just to talk. Problem clients may call to complain about everything that is wrong in their life. Your lawyer is not there to hold your hand or to become your social companion. Most lawyers are simply too busy for that. Organize your thoughts before you make the call so that you can make your points and ask your questions clearly and concisely. Lawyers are used to processing information quickly and directly. If you chatter endlessly in a disorganized fashion, your lawyer may wish to terminate the conversation as soon as possible.
Trial lawyering can be a very stressful way to make a living. If your phone calls add to this stress, your lawyer may dread your calls. If prematurely terminated calls cause your attorney to miss out on useful information, your case will suffer. Your lawyer will resent the fact that he or she has to waste a lot of time on activities that do nothing to further your case. Human nature may cause your lawyer to recommend settlement of your case for less than it is worth so that he or she can close your file and get rid of a problem client.