If you’re hiring a personal injury attorney for the first time, you’re probably overwhelmed by the many questions you have in mind. The good thing is, lawyers are supposed to inform their clients about their legal obligations and rights and help steer them through the complexities of their case.
At the same time, it’s also important to understand what a personal injury lawyer should not do when handling your case. Here are five things your lawyer should never do.
Take Your Case With Conflicts of Interest
One of the things that your personal injury lawyer can’t do is take your case with conflicts of interest. That means a substantial risk of your injury case being adversely affected by the lawyer’s representation of another client, a former client, or their own interests. The lawyer should always be free to exercise independent professional judgment.
The personal injury lawyer’s goals and incentives in representing you should be in line with your needs. When a lawyer picks up your call for a consultation, they should analyze your case for any potential conflicts of interest by checking their current cases and clients. Make sure to ask questions about conflict of interest before hiring a lawyer to represent you.
Guarantee Success in Your Case
A personal injury lawyer should never guarantee success in your case. These cases are taken on a contingency-fee basis, where the lawyer is only paid after a successful out-of-court personal injury settlement or trial that results in full compensation. Even if your lawyer is confident that your case is strong, an explicit guarantee is an ethical violation.
Personal injury cases involve many unknown circumstances and factors that could impact the case in various ways. Honest and experienced injury lawyers will do their best to win a client’s case, but can’t predict the outcome. A good lawyer will advise you when your case is weak to avoid stress, loss of time, and money. Always check a lawyer’s credentials and their experience with an injury case like yours.
Divulge Private Information to Any Third Party
Your personal injury lawyers shouldn’t divulge any private information to third parties. Confidentiality is the most critical element in any lawyer-client relationship. You want to be sure you can be honest and open with your lawyer at all times. It is therefore important that lawyers keep all information private that clients share during consultations or representation.
Client privilege is vital unless there is a written consent to share information. Your lawyer’s role is to use the information you divulge to provide fair legal representation and nothing more than that. The laws that are put in place to protect client confidentiality also prevent lawyers from being called as witnesses against their own clients.
Go Against Your Interests
It’s common for a personal injury lawyer to be the steward over the money that comes in after a settlement or compensation on behalf of a client. In most cases, this comes as a single check, out of which the lawyer goes ahead and pays any pending medical bills for the client, pays for attorney liens, and pays legal fees.
You should expect to get your due amount promptly. Unfortunately, there have been a few cases of lawyers going against the client’s interests by delaying payments. Your lawyer shouldn’t do this and should instead complete all necessary transactions once the settlement is closed and get the remaining amount you’re entitled to in your possession as soon as possible.
Loan You Money
Another thing your personal injury lawyer can’t do is to loan you any money. By law, they’re allowed to front the costs of personal injury litigation and represent you on a contingency fee basis. However, the attorney shouldn’t collect any fees from you until your case has reached a settlement and you’ve received full compensation. Do not accept any out-of-pocket offers to get loans or help with paying bills by your lawyer, as this is against the law.
What If a Lawyer Violates These Rules?
If your lawyer violates or breaches any of these rules, you have the right to report a complaint with the state bar association. This can follow with disciplinary action that can result in suspension, loss of license, or charges.