A Bill of Rights for Injured People
There should be a Bill of Rights for injured people when it comes to dealing with, working with, being represented by a lawyer. Let me name a few of those rights that all injured people should ask their attorneys:
Do you have legal malpractice insurance?
This is a valid and serious question. A general contractor asks a sub-contractor who wants work if the sub has workers’ compensation and general liability insurance before allowing any work to start. Your bank insists you have auto insurance before loaning you money to pay for your newly purchased automobile. The lawyer should have legal malpractice insurance.
What is your relationship to the chiropractors or orthopedic doctors or medical clinics the lawyer wants you to seek medical treatment from?
Do these doctors say the same thing about all their patients or do they with great detail try to diagnose and treat the injured people sent their way by their lawyer.
Will the lawyer let his office secretary or paralegal be in charge of moving your case through the medical and legal minefields out there?
Too many times I hear from clients who are dissatisfied with their lawyer and legal office because the client never again hears from his lawyer. The strategy is never discussed for successfully handling your case. The lawyer may show up to hand you the final settlement check in your auto wreck case. But the lawyer is not involved.
Are you allowed to jointly make decisions for your case with the lawyer and staff together or are all decisions made and you only hear about them afterward?
This is a big one I hear about all the time. People come to me completely dissatisfied with their current lawyer because a settlement proposal was sent to the workers’ compensation or automobile accident insurance company without the injured persons knowing about it. The client must consent to any settlement proposal, but it does not happen often.
Your lawyer should give you copies of all documents he or she generates as they are created. How can you know what is happening if you do not see the work product of your lawyer when these documents are created.
After your first in office meeting at the beginning of your case, have you ever met again with your lawyer?
(assuming the lawyer was present at the first meeting).
Why is this important? Clearly, as the lawyer collects medical records of your current injury, records of any past injury or claim, it gives the lawyer new insights as to your case. I have always found that it is very important to meet with my clients every 60 days and LISTEN to my client. It is amazing what I can learn that improves my ability to better represent the person.
These are only a few of what I call the Bill of Rights of the injured person when they come to seek legal representation in their workers’ compensation or automobile accident case.