When you’re in the middle of a personal injury case it may feel difficult to find out exactly what is going on in your case from your lawyer. This can especially be true if it feels like they are speaking a different language or aren’t the most pleasant to work with. While the lack of lawyer communication skills seems to be on the rise, it’s important to remember that you have options, and you have the right to ask your lawyer questions about your case. If you’re feeling lost or want to make sure you’re proactive about your case, try asking your lawyer these questions so you can gain confidence and peace of mind.
Has a Summons and Complaint been filed with the court and has a Bill of Particulars been served?
Once you have the answer to these questions, have your lawyer send you copies of both so you can keep them handy and have them as reference points. It’s important that you make sure they have copies of all your medical records and test results, and you go over all your medical treatment and testing with them personally. Wondering why these are so important? If your lawyer does not have all your records, the insurance company won’t have them, and it can and likely will affect the value of your case.
What are the important dates I need to know about?
Ask about specific dates like deposition dates that have been selected if a Preliminary Conference has been held in court. This would be a good time to also inquire about the present status of the case, what the next steps are, what else needs to be done, and how long does your lawyer anticipate this to take? The final critical date to ask about at this point is when will your case be placed onto the trial calendar? As plaintiff in the case, you will need to block these dates out and be prepared to help ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.
What insurance company is the party that injured me insured by and what are the specific limits and coverages involved in their policy?
Asking questions like “what are the liability policy limits” and “is there any excess insurance coverage” will help you gain a better understanding of the defendant. You’ll also want to ask additional questions like “have there been any settlement talks”, “what (if any) offers have been made”, and “what is the realistic settlement value of your case” according to your lawyer.
Do you think this can be settled or do you believe a trial will be necessary?
It’s important that early on that your lawyer clearly communicates if they believe the case will go to trial and any other considerations they may have made like mediation or arbitration as a way of resolving your case. Since only about 5% of personal injury cases go to trial, this is important to know early on so you can help your lawyer best prepare if they believe it will. In the case that your lawyer expects to go to trial, you will also want to ask if they have hired a life care planner, vocational expert, or economist in order to project your future medical care costs and loss of wages.
Warning signs to pay attention to
It’s important that you watch for red flags when you are asking these questions, for example: if your lawyer makes you feel like you’re asking too many questions, they give unclear responses, or they don’t really answer your questions at all. When lawyers tell clients “don’t worry” and “things will be happening soon” they leave them in the dark and this can be unsettling for anyone. It’s important to remember that if your lawyer’s responses leave you feeling unhappy and unsure about how your case is being handled, you have every right to consult another lawyer and/or change lawyers at any time and for any reason.
Keep in mind that changing lawyers will not delay your case or have any effect on your legal fee since the fee will be split between the lawyers. You have only one chance to timely obtain the results that you truly deserve so it’s important you make the right decision for you. If you are unhappy with your current personal injury attorney and are looking for someone who will do everything to ensure the best possible outcome for your case in a fast and efficient manner, it may be time to reach out to Mark T. Freeley, The North Shore Injury Lawyer. Give him a call at 631-495-9435 to discuss your case and give yourself peace of mind that you’re taken care of.