Once you have decided on a personal injury attorney to handle your case, you may be wondering what to expect from the lawyer's communications and transparency with you. To outline correct expectations from the start, check out this guideline on what your personal injury attorney should - and should not - be relaying to you.
What Your Attorney Should Be Telling You
If you are wondering if you are asking your attorney too many questions, you most likely are not. As the client, you deserve to be kept in the loop about most aspects of your case. As a point of reference, however, you should expect your attorney to share the following:
"In your case, I advise..." - This is, after all, what you have hired your attorney for. If you have a legal question regarding your personal injury case, expect your attorney to respond with a thoughtful, personalized response.
"I have the latest update on your case" - You should always be kept in the loop about your case. It is important, before hiring a lawyer, to determine how frequently you should expect case updates. However, if your attorney is ignoring you, or not updating you on your case as often as you agreed upon, it might be time to seek out a new attorney.
"This is what I expect to happen in your case" – Your attorney should always use complete transparency with you about how they believe the case will turn out.
"Your case should cost..." – This is another aspect that you should never be kept in the dark about. Your attorney will be able to estimate the cost of your case to you, and should be open with you about this as the case progresses.
"There have been changes, delays or setbacks in your case" – As the client, you should be the first point of contact for your lawyer when any changes occur regarding your case.
"I'll help prepare you for your case, including deposition and trial preparation" – Trial preparation will only help to benefit you both. If your deposition or trial is nearing and you do not feel prepared, reach out and let your attorney know you do not feel confident going to court with the information you have been given.
What Your Attorney Should Not Be Telling You
While the majority of information regarding your case is within the limits of what your lawyer can and should be relaying to you, there are some things that you should not be informed about. If your lawyer does indulge this information to you, it may be time to look for a new attorney to handle your case. These include:
"We're going to win" – Even if you have a strong case built up, there is never any certainty that your attorney will win the case you. Such promises can often mean that the attorney is inexperienced, or desperately needs your business.
"I'll speak to the defendant directly" – Your attorney should not speak to a defendant directly, unless that defendant is not being represented. For example, if you were involved in an automobile accident, and your attorney tells you that he plans to speak to the defendant who caused the crash without asking if they are being represented by a lawyer, you can assume that your attorney is probably inexperienced and does not completely understand the ethical rules regulating lawyers.
Similarly, if you are contacted by a lawyer on a matter that you already have representation for, you can protect yourself by telling the lawyer to call your attorney. If you want to talk to your counsel about it, do not agree to anything with the other lawyer, and do not give out information.
"I'll make the decisions regarding your case for you" – A good attorney will give you the information, and measured advice, but should not make the ultimate decisions regarding your case without your approval.
In order to create the best line of communication between yourself and your personal injury attorney, be sure that you fulfill your responsibilities as a client. Abide by the agreements that you signed, keep your lawyer informed to any new evidence that may come to light, and reply to requests or electronic messages from your attorney. Keep your relationship professional, and always be honest with your attorney regarding the fine details of, and facts that may influence, your case. Just as you expect honesty and transparency from your lawyer, he or she expects the same from you.