You must have competent, professional, and reliable legal advice when involved in a personal injury case.
Navigating a case of this nature can be very difficult, especially if you are suffering with long-term injuries and ill effects after your accident; it is crucial that you have someone that you can trust on hand to walk you through what can be an extremely traumatic incident.
As well as helping to support you emotionally and ensure that you get the justice that you are owed, a good and experienced personal injury lawyer is also the key to ensuring that you receive the financial assistance and compensation that you are entitled to – the right lawyer could be the difference between you being awarded damages of $10,000, and receiving compensation of $500,000.
Sadly, however, not all lawyers will always have your back – there are numerous tales of lawyers who have pushed and pressured their clients to accept less than they are owed after an accident – even when the compensation is not adequate for the long term medical needs and requirements of the victim.
This means that you could suffer twice: the first in the accident itself, and the second when you are unable to access the financial support and assistance that you deserve, and need to move forward with your life.
It is also important to note that insurance companies are another party who are highly unlikely to have your best interests at heart; while they may offer you a settlement, you must remember that ultimately, they are working for their employer, and so will never offer you the full amount that you deserve.
In order to access this, you need to ensure that you have a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced legal professional on hand. A personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the help you need, and this can help in a number of ways:
- Peace of mind that you are secure and stable in the future
- Being able to access the medical treatment that you need and deserve – without the stress of having to fight over bills
- Navigating your treatment and the complex healthcare system without having to worry that you cannot afford treatment, or that you will be forced to go into debt
- Obtaining compensation to cover loss of wages, reduced earning capacity, and protecting you in the event that you are unable to work in the future
Types Of Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases are unfortunately one of the most common lawsuits that courts see, and this is largely due to the broad nature of this category. Personal injury claims come in a wide range of shapes and forms, and these include:
If you are injured as a result of a mistake by a doctor, nurse, or another healthcare professional, then you may be entitled to bring about a case for medical malpractice.
This includes a mistake during surgery, performing the wrong treatment or failing to administer treatment, or misdiagnosing your condition, with this misdiagnosis resulting in an injury or worsening of your health condition.
While slips and trips are common elements of everyday life, they do have the potential to cause serious harm and injury. If you find yourself injured as the result of a loose paving slab, a lack of wet floor sign, or an uneven surface, then you may be able to hold the owner of the building, or the party responsible for the space, liable for your injuries.
If you are injured in a dog bite, Texas law states that the owner of the dog can be held liable for any injuries, provided that it can be proven that there is a good chance that the owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was likely to bite, and failed to take steps to prevent this from happening.
Accidents involving cars and auto vehicles, including trucks and motorcycles, are sadly all too common, and the injuries sustained in these cases have the potential to be catastrophic. If it can be proven that the negligence of another driver was the cause of the accident, then they may be held liable.
Whenever a manufacturer invents and produces a new product, there are a number of stringent tests and requirements that must be met before the product can go to market. If these are missed or falsified, and a member of the public is injured by a product that they were using in the correct way, and for the intended use, then the manufacturer may be found liable for any injuries suffered.
The Negligence Theory
Personal injury cases are based primarily on the concept of negligence. This states that a party can be found to have been negligent if they acted, or failed to act, in a way that a “prudent person” would not have chosen to do.
In other words, the actions of a prudent person will be considered for every case – for example, placing a wet floor sign or fixing a broken light, and the actions of the defendant will be compared to this. If the defendant failed to act in the same way as a “prudent person”, then they can be found to have been negligent, and subsequently held liable for injuries incurred by the victim.
As you can see, proving negligence can be a challenge, and this is why a reliable, trustworthy personal injury attorney is crucial. Your lawyer will work to examine the scene of the accident, take witness statements, access medical records, investigate ownership, and work to ensure that it can be proven that the third party involved was negligent.
This means that they can then be found liable for the damages and compensation that you are owed.
Spot The Warning Signs
As we have seen, having the right attorney on your side is crucial to helping ensure that you achieve the outcome that you deserve following a personal injury case. In some cases, however, you may have a nagging, instinctive feeling that something is not quite right with your attorney – and it is important to trust your instincts whenever these suspicions arise.
There are a number of signs that may suggest that your attorney is being less than honest with you, and it is important to listen and pay attention to these potential issues – never forget that you are paying your lawyer, not the other way around, and you can fire them whenever they no longer serve your interests.
Some Of The Most Important Warning Signs Include:
When you are in the process of pursuing a personal injury claim, it is crucial that you know what is going on at every stage of the process – you should always know what the latest advancements for your case are, where it is in the process, where it currently stands, and who is currently working on it.
This means that you should be able to call your attorney whenever you need to, and speak directly to them for an update on your case, or to have any of your questions answered. At the very least, you should be able to book an appointment promptly, if the attorney is busy at the exact time that you call.
One of the main signs that something is wrong may come when you realize you have had little to no communication with your attorney following the initial consultation.
They should be keeping in touch, as well as being reachable. If you feel as though your attorney is avoiding you, not taking your calls, or is very difficult to get hold of, then this could be a red flag that something is very wrong – remember, you are paying a lot of money, and so it is important that your attorney considers you a priority.
If you feel as though a distance has sprung up between you and your attorney, your first step should be reaching out to them for a call or meeting – this can help to clear up any potential miscommunications or misunderstandings, and can also set your mind at ease.
If there are still issues at this stage, then this can be a sign that you need to cut ties and find an attorney who values and respects you. Remember, you need to be able to catch up on your claim whenever you need to, and should be being kept informed at every step of the way.
Any unprofessional conduct is also great grounds for you to fire your attorney, especially if this is combined with a perceived lack of dedication and commitment to your case. Unprofessional conduct can take a number of forms, and this may include missing your important appointments or meetings, or showing up late on a regular basis.
While in some cases, being late cannot be avoided, this should never be a regular thing – it suggests that you are not your attorney’s main priority, and suggests that they are not taking your case seriously.
You should also be concerned if you discover that your attorney is not filing paperwork and documents by required deadlines, or if they are consistently filing the paperwork incorrectly or, in some cases, not filing paperwork at all.
You may also find that your attorney has no interest in your case and does not seem to be working on it, or they start not returning your calls and emails. Any conflict of interest must also be considered serious unprofessional conduct, as can any situation where your attorney is making crucial decisions about your case without informing or asking you beforehand.
All of these signs, or any other indication that your attorney is acting in a way that could be considered unprofessional, mean that you should seriously be considering finding a new lawyer.
The law is a wide, vast beast, and it is impossible for any one lawyer to be an expert in every single area of the law – some are skilled at criminal law, while others do wonders with family law cases. As a result, not all lawyers will have a focus on personal injury law, and this can be detrimental to their clients.
Before choosing your attorney, it is a good idea to do a little research and take a look at the types of cases that they have handled in the past – if there is little background or proven success in personal injury cases, it can be a good idea to take a step back – particularly if this lack of experience comes alongside one or more of the other warning signs that we have already seen on this list.
For optimum results and to really increase your chances of success, it can be useful to opt for an attorney who is Board Certified – this is a rigorous process, and the accolade is only awarded to around 7% of all lawyers. This may cost a little more, but it is a great way to feel reassured that you are gaining legal advice from the best of the best.
For your lawyer, this is likely to just be another case, but the same cannot be said for the client who is seeking legal representation – particularly when it comes to personal injury cases.
In many cases, lawyers in this field will be dealing with clients who have been seriously injured, permanently disabled, or, in some situations, are trying to handle the death of a loved one.
The very nature of personal injury means that cases tend to be painful, and it is crucial that you find an attorney who is empathetic and compassionate and shows real concern for what you are going through.
This compassion and empathy is not only important for helping to ensure that you feel supported and safe during the progression of your case, but it could also have an impact on the outcome of your case.
During the course of your case, your lawyer will be responsible for communicating the pain and loss that you have experienced and suffered, both to other lawyers and to a judge and jury should your case need to go to trial.
If they are not involved and empathetic, this will come across to other parties and may impact the settlement that you are offered, or the number of damages that you are entitled to.
Very rarely, your attorney may go beyond unprofessional conduct and lack of compassion and lie directly to your face. In some cases, your lawyer may have been in regular contact with you, giving you updates, and reassuring you that everything is going well during your case – only for you to find out, later on, that absolutely nothing has actually happened, and no progress has been made on your case.
In other situations, you may find out that your case is not going as well as you have been promised, and your lawyer has been feeding you misinformation – this means that you are not in the right position to make an informed, educated decision on the next step, and you are not totally informed.
Other common issues include realizing that your lawyer has a conflict of interests that they have not declared, that paperwork has not been filed or deadlines missed, or that you are not receiving the whole story from your lawyer – all of these are grounds to dismiss your lawyer and find someone that you can trust.
There is never an excuse for your attorney to be dishonest with you, and this should be a total non-negotiable. When you are dealing with a personal injury claim, you need someone you can trust completely – and a lawyer who lies to you does not fit that bill.
What You Need To Consider
As with any employee in any job, it is pretty safe to assume that your lawyer will not want to be fired, and many will have paperwork in place to help protect themselves and their interests. As a result, most attorneys will have signed contracts or agreements which cover them for contingent fee arrangements, such as those involved in personal injury cases.
As part of this agreement, you will usually state that your attorney will be eligible for a percentage of the total compensation, award, or settlement that you receive in a case – even if they are no longer representing you as a lawyer when that settlement is made.
This has pros and cons for both sides; it is useful for helping to protect reputable, good lawyers who spend a lot of time, money, and effort working hard on your case, and reduces a scenario where an attorney spends a year or more working to secure their client an excellent settlement, only to find themselves fired with none of the settlement, and also none of these case expenses or fees paid.
The issue arises when your lawyer fails to meet your needs due to the one of the reasons that we gave explored above and is still entitled to a cut of your final settlement as a result of the agreement. To prevent this from happening, you will need good cause to fire them and end the contract, and another attorney can help to advise you on how likely you are to be successful in this.
They may ask you questions to help determine your relationship with your attorney and the chances of you successfully terminating your contract. Key points of discussion are likely to be:
- When did you last try to contact your lawyer? When did they last respond? At what point did they not last respond?
- What is your attorney’s punctuality like? When did they miss appointments? Were they late to their meetings and appointments, and when did this take place?
- When did your lawyer miss deadlines or file the wrong paperwork?
- Were mistakes made in your case? When did these occur?
- Does your attorney have a conflict of interest in your case? What conflicts of interest have occurred?
- What decisions has your attorney made about your case? Were you consulted at every stage, and informed about every decision?
- Have you been treated professionally throughout the duration of your case? Were there any examples of you being treated unprofessionally?
- Were you misled about the prospects, progress, or outcome of your case at any point? When did this occur?
It is important that you can have specific, detailed answers to these questions as much as possible, and also a smart move to make sure that you are keeping a record of all interactions and conversations had with your attorney throughout the course of the process.
The more information that your new attorney has, the better they can advise you on whether or not you will be in a position to fire your old lawyer.
How Can You Fire Your Attorney?
Firing your attorney may seem tricky, but this is a task that is not impossible. The most important thing to remember is that you will need recorded documentation of any negative or unprofessional behavior or poor conduct – and the more that you have of this, the greater your chances of being able to break your contract with your attorney and reduce the risk that they will have access to a portion of your compensation.
As soon as you sense that there may be a problem, make it a priority to start documenting everything you can, and keep a running list of your main concerns and issues that you are experiencing.
Once you have a list of your concerns, your next step should be to contact your lawyer directly, and schedule a meeting to discuss the issues – your goal at this stage will be to resolve any problems, clear up any misunderstandings or miscommunications, make sure that you are both on the same page and, ideally, preserve the working relationship that exists between the two of you.
In some cases, your attorney may fail to turn up to this meeting – this alone will provide the ammunition and confirmation that you need to move on and hire a new lawyer. Alternatively, you may find that little changes following the meeting and, again, this is a sign that it is time to cut your losses and move on to a more reliable attorney.
Once you decide to move forward with firing your lawyer, there are a few considerations that you should bear in mind:
Your first step should be to send a professional, formal letter directly to your attorney. This needs to clearly lay out and summarize your concerns and issues, and formally inform them of your desire to officially terminate the working relationship. Make sure that this letter includes specific examples of their poor or unprofessional conduct and the ways in which this has directly resulted in your decision to part ways with them.
Putting everything in writing also means that you have a higher chance of successfully severing the relationship without any long-term issues, or risking being sued for breach of contract.
It is only natural that you may be feeling angry or upset, and the chances are that your emotions will be running high – a personal injury case is difficult enough at the best of times, without having to worry about an unprofessional attorney making things harder. It is important, however, that you remain professional, calm, and keep any issues or complaints factual – do not resort to a slanging match.
Most lawyers are very concerned with their reputation – even if they are the wrong fit for your case – and this means that when your case is passed over to your new attorney, you will hopefully be afforded the same professionalism, dignity, and courtesy. In addition, staying calm and professional helps you to put your case across more reasonably, and means that any further dealings with the legal system and other attorneys are more likely to be successful – remember, the legal world is a small one, and the last thing you want is to sully your own reputation.
Even if your lawyer starts trying to get you to stay, offering you deals, or getting emotional, it is important to stick to your guns and remain professional – if they are not working for you, you are in your right to walk away.
Once you have severed ties with your old attorney, it is important to ensure that you are thorough in your research for your new attorney. Personal injury claims can be complex and tricky to navigate, so it is crucial that you have a skilled professional on hand to help you navigate the confusion, and work to ensure that you receive the outcome and compensation that you deserve.
How Can We Help?
Personal injury cases are tough, emotional, and can be draining – and having the right representation on hand can make all the difference to the final outcome. For reliable, experienced attorneys that you can count on, get in touch today and see how we can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury case occurs when an individual is injured as the result of negligence or conduct of another individual or party. Compensation and damages can be claimed to cover for injuries incurred during the accident.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a key element of any personal injury case, and is said to have occured when one person or party failed in or breached their duty of care to another individual, causing an accident or injury.
When Should I Fire My Lawyer?
You should think about firing your lawyer and seeking new representation if your attorney is unprofessional, disorganized, non empathetic or otherwise fails to communicate well regarding your case, or to meet your needs as their client. You should keep detailed records of all information and communications, as this can help you if you need to break your contract with your lawyer.