Not infrequently, clients ask what they can do to make sure their cases go well. This is a great question to ask, because there are most certainly things you can do to help your lawyer keep your case flowing smoothly. In addition, there are things that you can do that will damage your case or even destroy it. Given this, it is important that you, as the injured person, do what you can to help your lawyer get the best result possible for you.
Ways to Help Your Lawyer
1. Hire a lawyer early
Sometimes we get phone calls or emails from people who were injured years ago. In every state, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, there is something called a statute of limitations. Once the deadline listed in that statute passes, you can never file suit. This means that no matter had badly you were injured, no matter how good a case you have, you can never receive compensation. If you call us two years and one day after your car accident, we won’t be able to help you, because we will be time barred from filing a claim. However, understand that if you call us 1 year and 364 days after your accident, you also aren’t leaving us much time to investigate your claim or file a suit on your behalf. The more complicated the case, the more time we need to build and properly file your claim. In addition, we can handle communication with opposing counsel or insurance companies and aid you as you go through your recovery process. It is possible to damage your case if you share harmful information with the insurance company, and they will do their best to get you to share such information.
Even if you aren’t sure whether you have a lawsuit, if you think you might, it is best to contact a lawyer early on so they can assess the situation. We never charge for a consultation, and you have no obligation to retain us if you contact us.
2. Be responsive
Throughout your case, we will have documents that need to be completed and questions that need to be answered. Being prompt in providing necessary information is a great way to help keep your case moving. For example, in personal injury claims, we need HIPAA release forms to get your medical records. Failing to return these forms can really slow things down. Similarly, during discovery, you are required to cooperate with the opposing side. If you delay answering questions or don’t attend a deposition, you can end up facing sanctions from the court or even have your case dismissed. Lawsuits have deadlines and failing to meet them can end a suit prematurely.
3. Let us know if you move
On occasion, a client moves and doesn’t tell us. This leaves us in a position of having to track them down. Sending a quick note or email to let us know your new location, phone and email, means we won’t have to search for you when we need your permission to settle your case.
4. Be careful what you post online
People like to share on social media. Unfortunately, sometimes posts that you might think are completely innocent can be very damaging to your case. You never know how opposing counsel might spin that walk without your crutches in the garden. Or maybe your friend posts how thankful they are that you helped them move but you are claiming that you have an injured back. Opposing counsel will try to make that moving assistance look like proof that you are being dishonest about the severity of your injuries. When in doubt, it is best not to post. It is also important that you control your social media privacy settings.
5. Don’t be afraid to tell your lawyer everything
Attorneys and their clients have attorney/client privilege. If you communicate with an attorney prior to officially hiring them, those communications are protected as well. As lawyers, we are used to hearing all kinds of information and nothing you say to us will make us judge you or think less of you. We need to understand the impact of your injuries on your life, because your loss of life’s enjoyment is something for which we can seek compensation for you. It isn’t just things you cannot do, but things that are more difficult or painful for you than they were before. Even if it is just for a short period of time. For example, you can’t clean your house. You can’t walk your dog. Playing with your children is limited and causes increased pain. And yes, this even goes to very personal matters that you might feel uncomfortable discussing. It is important that we know everything and that all answers are complete. This way we can not only make a proper assessment of your case initially, and craft a proper demand during settlement negotiations, but we can also be prepared to respond to anything that might come up. Surprises are never a good thing in court.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If you don’t understand something or are confused, never be afraid to ask questions. It is important that you understand the system and what is happening with your case. It is much better that you ask than be anxious or upset because you aren’t sure of something.
7. Keep copies of documents
When you go to doctors or other appointments, you may be given various documents. If you keep copies, you can provide them to us, making it easier for us to form your medical history, quickly.
8. Know your medical history
Medical past is often relevant in personal injury case. In addition, it is common to see many doctors and other medical professionals, during the course of a lawsuit or after you are injured. Knowing your medical history and being able to identify your medical providers is a big help. If you know your medical providers, it helps us to quickly identify from where to seek your medical records.
9. Follow your doctor’s recommendations
It is critical that we be able to prove your injuries and the extent of those injuries. As a result, keeping medical appointments, following your doctor’s’ orders, and being compliant with all treatment, is important. If you are seriously injured, but only go to the doctor one or two times and fail to keep up with your physical therapy or take your medication, it will be very difficult for us to convince an opposing party or jury of the extent of your harm.
10. Know your work history
Another large part, sometimes the largest part, of a personal injury case, is lost wages and lost future earnings. It is important that we be able to show your work history and the amount of work that you missed. This means we often need to be able to go back at least a few years in your employment history. If you keep track of your past employers and your current missed work or losses (if you are self employed) this helps us to prove the extent of your financial damages.
It is Our Job to Help You, But You Can Help Us Do So
As your attorneys, we at Lowenthal & Abrams do everything we can to make your case move as smoothly and quickly as possible. As the client, you can help us and even protect your own case by following the 10 items listed above. If you have any questions about your personal injury claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Consultations are free and there is no fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you.