Tips for Being a Client that Helps Your Own Case
For most people, being involved in a lawsuit, workers’ compensation claim or a Social Security Disability claim, can be confusing, frustrating, and at times, scary. The world of law is uncomplicated for us because it is what we do. However, we realize that just like doctors don’t always explain the terms they use to their patients, we may not always explain things about the process as well as we should. Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant in a lawsuit, or a claimant seeking benefits, there are some things you can do to ease the process and make it go more smoothly and comfortably.
- Ask Questions. If we are using terms you do not understand, or you don’t know why things are happening, ask. We are always happy to explain things in a way that our clients can understand. It is your case, and you need to be at ease with the process. You have an absolute right to be kept informed about what is going on.
- Respond to Your Lawyer. Understandably, clients are not happy when lawyers don’t return their calls. Lawyers and paralegals feel the same way. When we contact you, whether it is by phone, email, or letter, it is usually because we need information to proceed with your case. Try your best to respond promptly and return any documents we need filled out or signed. Not being responsive can hurt your case.
- Be Patient. Litigation takes time. How long this process takes is hard to say. Often, a case will settle without going to court, but in most cases, this won’t happen before discovery (the formal exchange of information and testimony) is completed. Knowing going into the process that it likely will take many months to a few years to resolve your case can help reduce frustration. Also, if time goes by and you don’t hear from your lawyer for a while, don’t assume that he or she isn’t thinking about your case or working hard on your behalf. A lot goes on behind the scenes that doesn’t require client input. But always, if you truly want an update, feel free to reach out. Again, it is your case and you need to be ok with the process.
- Be Honest. A lawyer can only do a good job if he or she is provided all relevant information. Don’t hide anything even if you think it could damage your case. It is part of a lawyer’s job to come up with ways to lessen the negative impact of damaging information. Having your lawyer get blindsided with unknown information that the other side discovers makes the job that much harder and could damage your case.
- Seek Medical Treatment. If you feel you need medical treatment for any injuries you sustain in a personal injury accident or a workers’ compensation claim, see your doctors. And if your treating physicians recommend follow-up, attend your appointments. Without regularly treating for your injuries, it is hard to prove that you are in fact injured.
- Avoid the Blame Game. It is easy to blame your lawyer if your case isn’t going well. Sometimes it is a lawyer’s fault, but some problems stem from action (or non-action) by a client. Some obstacles are the fault of defense counsel, or even no one. Delays happen, deadlines are extended as professional courtesy among lawyers, and at times, lawyers are at the mercy of the courts. Also, some cases are stronger than others. If your lawyer gives you bad news about your likelihood of success or the amount of expected financial recovery, he or she is likely just trying to be honest with you so you can be prepared.
Being a good client is important, but so is being a good lawyer. Here at the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, we advocate strongly for our clients, aim to keep you in the loop and make sure you understand what is happening, and we promise to always be honest about your case, good or bad. As stated above, it is your case. You need to feel in control and happy with the outcome. If at any stage you don’t, we want to know. We are here to help you.