Building a Strong Attorney-Client Relationship
The most important thing in an attorney-client relationship is honesty and credibility on both sides. The client has to feel comfortable that the attorney has the right focus and the right interest in mind, and, at the same time, the attorney has to have faith and trust that the client has the interest in the case and is going to do what’s necessary to move forward. Personal injury cases are not easy.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
The insurance companies fight everything tooth and nail; most of the time their defense is to blame the plaintiff, your client, insinuate things about their motives, and insinuate things about whether their injuries are legitimate. It’s a real test of mettle for plaintiffs, because the insurance companies want to make it tough for plaintiffs to pursue these cases.
It’s a battle; you’ve got to be ready for it, and the client has to be primed for it and have the right frame of mind. If they think just because they have a claim that the insurance company is going to settle it, they’re very wrong. Those days are gone. Every case is a battle, and every case has to be seen as a battle, because that’s the only way you’re going to maximize the outcome.
I have clients come to me who have tried to “do the right thing,” as in be cooperative and do everything the insurance company has asked of them. Then they come to me and say, “You know, this just isn’t working out for me.” Time and time again I’ve seen situations where the insurance companies act friendly in the beginning – they act like they’re their best friend and they want to do the right thing – but all they’re doing is extracting information that they otherwise would not be entitled to, in order to get a leg up on the plaintiff.
Then, when it comes time for the insurance company to do the right thing, they don’t. They low-ball, they minimize everything, they blame the plaintiff, and people get frustrated that they’re not being treated fairly. People learn the hard way that way. Then they come to the lawyer and say, “This isn’t working out.” Sometimes they’ve hurt themselves unwittingly.
Contributory Negligence Issues
In the jurisdictions where we practice we deal with contributory negligence and that means that the defendant can be 99% at fault and if the plaintiff is 1% at fault, their claim is barred. They can’t recover and people don’t realize that. When insurance companies are asking questions about what occurred, they’re trying to find out any avenues that will be beneficial to them and hurtful to the plaintiff. It’s not an easy process.
People who have not been involved with it before don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, and it’s extremely important that they know and that they’re ready for it. Together with the right team of litigators, with a good firm with resources, they can pursue their claim. A lot of it will rest on the shoulders of the attorney who will fight for them, but they have to be a willing partner in moving forward with what needs to be done and fight the good fight.