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Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer

By Aaron Larson
March, 2005


Keep Your Lawyer Up-To-Date

It is important that your lawyer be able to contact you about your case, and sometimes the lawyer will encounter a situation where you must be contacted immediately. Make sure that you keep your lawyer updated about changes to your address and phone number. If you lose your phone service, make an arrangement with a friend or relative so that the lawyer can leave a message for you in the event of an emergency.

Make sure that your lawyer knows about any changes in your medical condition, as well as the names of any new doctors you see about your injuries. Your treatment records can play an enormous role in the settlement of your case, and the amount of any ultimate settlement or verdict, so it is important that your lawyer is informed about the progress of your recovery, and of any complications in your recovery.

Respond To Calls and Correspondence

When your lawyer contacts you, try to get back to your lawyer within a reasonable amount of time - if possible, the same day or the following day. If your attorney needs to reach you, or has asked for information from you, you should assume that the request is important to your case.

Take Care Of Your Injury

Some people really hate doctors. Other people get discouraged about a chronic injury, and stop seeking treatment. Yet if you are persistent in seeking treatment, and cooperate with your doctors and with any prescribed physical therapy or home exercise program, your diligence will often help your lawyer establish both the nature and severity of your injury, and will help the defense lawyer understand that you aren't malingering or faking your symptoms, but are genuinely trying to get better.

Most of the time, seeking appropriate medical care and following the instructions of your health care providers will both improve your recovery from your injuries, and help you maximize your ultimate verdict or settlement. (And even if your recovery goes so well that your diligent treatment diminishes your recovery, you will be better off with a healthy body than with a few extra dollars in your wallet.)

Ask Questions

If you have questions or concerns about your case, ask your lawyer about them. Just as you should follow up promptly with inquiries from your lawyer, it is reasonable for you to expect that your lawyer will follow up in a diligent manner to your inquiries. (The lawyer's office can usually tell you if there is a reason why the lawyer's response might be delayed, such as if your lawyer is on vacation or is involved in a trial.) If you and your lawyer are both comfortable with email, an exchange of email can be a very efficient way to seek information about the status of your case without playing "phone tag" with your lawyer.

Cooperate With Discovery

At times during your lawsuit the defense is likely to serve requests for "discovery", meaning that they will ask that you answer a set of written questions called "interrogatories", answer questions in person and under oath at a "deposition", or go to an "independent medical examination" where you will be examined by a doctor hired by the defendant, or otherwise demand that you provide information they believe relevant to their defense. The failure to cooperate with discovery, or to provide timely answers to discovery requests, can be harmful to your case, and in some circumstances can result in the dismissal of your action or the entry of a verdict for your defense. It is important that you work with your lawyer to provide a timely and appropriate response to any discovery request.

About The Author
Aaron Larson is a Michigan lawyer whose practice emphasizes civil appeals and litigation consulting. Copyright © 2005, Aaron Larson, all rights reserved.
As legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of your case, information cannot substitute for the advice of qualified legal counsel. All information on this website is believed to be accurate as of the time it was authored. However, due to the possibility of changes in the law since that time, and as personal injury laws can vary significantly from state to state, you should verify any information you find on this site with a licensed legal professional in your state. All information on this site is presented on an "as is" basis. Your use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.