Duties and Responsibilities of an Attorney in a Personal Injury Case

Scales of Justice Touch Screen ButtonMany people put off the decision to hire an attorney after suffering a serious injury, fearing that a lawyer is just one more stranger with the potential to take advantage of them. This could not be further from the truth. A reputable personal injury lawyer’s only goal is to serve his clients and protect them under the limit of the law. In many cases, the help of an attorney is the only thing that will prevent a client from being victimized by insurance companies, and is the best chance the client has of securing compensation for his losses. Best of all, attorneys must follow strict codes of conduct to ensure that everything they do is in their clients’ best interests—and if they fail to meet these standards, they can lose the ability to practice law.

What Your Personal Injury Attorney Should Do for You

Each state has its own laws regarding the ethical duties and legal requirements for attorneys practicing injury law. While these requirements vary depending on the client’s location, lawyers are generally expected to exercise due diligence in all legal matters, ensure that the client understands and is issued a written fee agreement, and maintain client privacy and confidentiality throughout the case.

To that end, an attorney may perform a number of tasks throughout the personal injury legal process, including:

  • Investigating the claim. Attorneys listen to the client’s story, taking note of any potential problems or legal remedies in the case. The attorney will likely want to review the client's available insurance policies to see what coverage is available to pay for any losses. Once the relevant issues have been identified, the attorney can begin gathering evidence to build a strong case.
  • Conducting interviews. Personal injury lawyers may be required to interview clients and other parties in the case under oath. These interviews, known as depositions, are fact-finding discussions that can be used as testimony in court. Your attorney should prepare you for your own deposition, as well as ask the defendant questions that can identify fault or wrongdoing.
  • Supporting the client's claim. In addition to physical evidence, attorneys may rely on the testimony of other individuals to develop the case. This can mean interviewing witnesses, hiring medical experts, or hiring accident reconstructionists to give their opinions on how the accident occurred.
  • Answering questions and addressing client concerns. Your attorney should be available to answer your questions, keep you informed on the status of your case, and explain the next steps and your responsibilities as the case progresses. If you are offered a settlement, your attorney can advise you on your options and understand when to accept or reject an offer.
  • Advocating for the client. There are many ways a lawyer can help make a client’s life easier throughout the crash case process. When you are represented by counsel, anything related to the claim can be referred to your attorney. For example, your attorney can put your health insurance provider on notice of the claim, file any claim forms or paperwork, deal with insurance companies on your behalf, and ensure that your insurance provider pays for necessary treatment.
  • Securing adequate compensation. There are several ways to secure payment for medical bills, property damage, and lost income after a serious injury. Your attorney should be able to calculate a figure that will fairly compensate you for your losses, and negotiate with the insurance company to secure an amount that will settle the claim. If negotiations are not successful, your attorney should be willing to pursue the case in court and represent you at trial if he or she thinks it is the best way forward.

If you are having trouble getting payment from an insurer after an injury, our accident attorneys have offices in Illinois and Missouri to advise you on your next steps and legal rights. Download your FREE copy of one of our books, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases or The Missouri Car Crash Guide: Don't Wreck Your Car Crash Case! or contact the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm via our online contact form to schedule an appointment.