How to Be a Good Client During Your Personal Injury Case

You want to make sure you get a good outcome in your personal injury claim, and part of that means being a "good client." Here are some tips for making that happen.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

When you're looking for a personal injury lawyer, you want to make sure you end up with the right person for you and your case. And that expectation can work both ways. Every lawyer wants a "good client" if at all possible. But what is a "good client," and how much of being a "good client" is actually within the client's control?

In a nutshell, a good client does whatever is necessary in order to ensure that the case goes as smoothly as possible, and that the best outcome (a fair personal injury settlement, or a win in court) can be reached. That means:

1. Respond to Your Lawyer

Clients get pretty upset when their lawyer doesn't return phone calls. And lawyers feel the same way. If you don't return your lawyer's phone calls, emails, or letters promptly, you're not just wasting your lawyer's time, you could also be hurting your case.

2. Attend All Medical Appointments

Your health care provider will note any appointment that you miss, and, if you miss too many, the insurer adjuster (or the jury) is going to assume that you must not have been hurt as badly as you claim. This will cost you and your lawyer money. Be sure to keep all of your appointments.

3. Cooperate in the Discovery Process

If you end up filing a personal injury lawsuit in court, the defendant will send your lawyer written questions called interrogatories, as well as document requests. Your lawyer will send these on to you. You will need to promptly answer the interrogatories and provide your lawyer with the requested documents, or your case could be dismissed. Help your lawyer, and help yourself. Respond to all discovery as quickly as you can.

Practice for your deposition. Your personal injury deposition is a very important step in your case. Your lawyer is there to help you prepare, to offer guidance during the proceedings, and even step in if the other side is taking a questionable approach. Follow your lawyer's advice and recommendations.

4. Don't (Always) Blame Your Lawyer

Personal injury clients who are annoyed that their case isn't going well will often turn on their lawyer and say that it must be the lawyer's fault.

Some things are indeed a lawyer's fault, and any client needs to be attuned to that. But some problems that arise in personal injury cases are the client's fault, and other obstacles are no one's fault. Some personal injury cases just aren't that strong (meaning there's little or no chance of reaching a favorable outcome). Don't blame the messenger if your lawyer brings bad news. It's not going to help your case. Get more tips on how much your personal injury case might be worth, and how long the process may take.

For many lawyers, whether they'll admit it or not, the perfect client is one who does what he or she is told and doesn't hound the lawyer for updates at every turn. But it's not in most clients' best interests to try to live up to that model. There are times that you have to speak up.

If you sincerely believe that there are problems in your case, you can't always be the "good client." You have to ask questions. Remember that it is your case, not your lawyer's. You are the one who was hurt. You have an absolute right to be kept informed about what is going on. It may seem like you are being pesky by asking pointed, probing questions about your case, but you need to protect your interests by staying informed. Learn more about getting help from a personal injury lawyer.

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