The Qualities of a Great Personal Injury Lawyer
There are a lot of lawyers out there. As you look for one, you should hold onto hard standards and high expectations. Lawyers are so busy and are always on a tight deadline. But at the end of the day, they have duties and obligations to their clients, which they have to fulfill diligently because they represent you.
1. Interview You During a Consultation
The personal injury lawyer must ask you questions about the incident, in full detail, to allow him to understand what you are both dealing with. He should ask questions that relate to your injuries, job wages, and other facets of your life that have been affected by the accident.
Part of the consultation should also include discussion of fees. You will sign waivers for hospitals to release documents to him, including reports about your insurance coverage, if any. He will use all of these to determine the best course of action in case you are going to court.
2. Work with Your Insurance Company
Even if no court trial is going to happen, the lawyer must speak to your insurance company. He must ask you for your policy, review it, and determine the amount you are entitled to. He has to do this to ensure that you, his client, get the full benefit of your insurance coverage.
3. Practice Ethics
A lawyer has to follow ethical standards as prescribed by law. Though the requirements may vary from state to state, they should evaluate your case carefully and practice due diligence before recommending anything to you. Also, he should ensure confidentiality. Lawyers cannot divulge information that should be kept private between him and you.
4. Prepare Documents for Court Requirements
A lawsuit requires a lot of documentation. Your lawyer should know all of your paperwork requirements and help you file them before deadline. He should also be able to explain to you in plain English what each document means to your case.
For example, he must prepare the formal complaint, or petition, and explain to you what it is, who is going to receive it, and what it is for. He also has to explain terms like summons, plaintiff, service of process, etc., so you understand what is going on with your case.
5. Assist in the Fact-Finding and Discovery Process
Your lawyer must tell you that the person you are suing has the right to know your side of the issue. It is during this process where your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer will exchange information. This process is called discovery. In it, your lawyer may ask you to sign papers that represent your sworn statement. As the process goes on, your lawyer should also share with you the defendant’s statement or counter-claim.
6. Motions to Dismiss
Your defendant may ask the court to dismiss your case for lack of evidence even before the trial begins. Every case has a preliminary hearing in which your lawyer will present your case to the judge, and the defendant’s lawyer will present his defense.
After this, the judge will decide if there is any law that will substantiate your claim. If there is none, your case will be dismissed. It is your lawyer’s duty to inform you about this process and the possibility of it happening after the discovery process.
7. Settlement of Disputes
Sometimes, a lawsuit is not worth it, especially if the damages aren’t very significant. In fact, a high majority of cases involving car accidents do not reach the court. The parties resolve their issues through settlement. Your lawyer must ask you if you are open to this option, especially if you have a strong case and the defendant is willing to remunerate you financially. It is your lawyer’s duty to explain the pros and cons of settlement. It is also his duty to tell you that once you agree to a settlement, you can never take any legal action against the defendant for this case.
8. Representation in Court
If you decided to take the case to court, your lawyer will act as your legal representation. This means that he will represent you and advance your best interests. During a trial, it is your lawyer’s obligation to present to the judge your case, why the defendant is guilty, what law he violated, and the amount of compensation you seek.
It is also during a trial where your lawyer must ask the defendant questions with the aim of validating his statements. This is called cross-examination. Your lawyer must do what he can to logically explain to the jury the damage you sustained and why the defendant is liable.
9. Collecting Your Compensation
If you win the trial, or you agree to a settlement, your lawyer must see to it that the defendant keeps his word or honors a judge’s verdict. Even if you win a case, some defendants will try to evade their financial obligation to you.
Collecting money requires a lot of follow-up and phone calls. It also may require the defendant to sell his assets, which your lawyer must work on until you get paid. In some cases, the defendant must give you part of his salary. Whatever it is, your lawyer’s job is to ensure that you get fully compensated.
10. Appealing a Judge’s Decision
If you lost in court, or the trial never commenced, it is your lawyer’s duty to file a petition or a motion for consideration. Your lawyer will prepare documents which he will submit to the Court of Appeals. If you lose again, your lawyer should recommend another appeal. This time, you will appeal to the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country.
Last Updated: 03-24-2017