When you are injured in an accident and need representation, you want to make sure you hire a lawyer that is professional. He or she should be someone who will represent you and your best interests first.
Unfortunately, there are some attorneys that do not put their best foot forward and your case will suffer from it. All lawyers are human, but not all attorneys make mistakes. Hiring a law firm, where there is more than one lawyer working on your case, like the Atlanta Advocates Law Firm, will put your mind at ease during a trying time.
Here are 9 common mistakes that unprofessional injury lawyers make that you need to avoid in order to have the best outcome for your case.
1. Not Returning Phone Calls
When you call your lawyer, if he or she is unable to speak to you, you want them to call you back. You would not have called if you did not want to speak to them. So, you leave a message for a return call. And then you wait and wait, and wait.
You know you are not their only client, and you may not be the client that is bringing in the most money, but you still deserve respect and a return phone call.
Like it or not, your lawyer needs to answer your questions and address your concerns in a timely manner. A return phone call is a matter of courtesy and respect.
If you need to call repeated times with no return call, fire this attorney and get a new lawyer.
2. Does not offer a contingency fee
You need a lawyer that works on a contingency fee. If they ask for funds up front and does not wait until the case is settled to be paid, they are not working for you.
You will want to make sure your percentage of the settlement is the larger portion. It is always okay to negotiate your part of the funds if you feel your attorney is not pulling their weight.
3. They have no clue
If your lawyer is incompetent, you will not have a good outcome for your case. You should not be the only one in the room that cares about your case. Obviously, you care more about the case than anyone, but your attorney should come in at a close second.
Believe it or not, there are lawyers that are simply collecting clients for their portfolio. They do not care about the outcome of your case. They may make up the statistics of wins simply to keep working.
4. Persistently making excuses
When you talk with your attorney, you get nothing but excuses. If your lawyer is going through something in their personal life, that should not become your problem.
If you are going to give them money from your settlement, they need to concentrate on your case. No more excuses.
5. Too many cases
If your attorney is always busy with another client, then they won’t have time for your case. If they take on too many clients, their work, and your case, will suffer for it.
Even a law firm with several attorneys can become overwhelmed with a heavy workload. Avoid these firms in favour of smaller, more personal law firms. Your case will be a top priority and you will be happier with the outcome.
6. Friends with opposing attorney
If your lawyer is a good friend of the opposing lawyer, you may want to consider a different lawyer. Having a working relationship with the opposite side is a good thing, but if they are best buds, that could jeopardize your case. No one likes to beat their best friend, even the most competitive of people.
You can do a little research before you hire a lawyer or a firm of attorneys. Check to see who they are associated with and you may even want to search social media to see how friendly the opposing attorney is with your lawyer.
7. No new developments
There are times when there will be no new activity on your case. That is understandable. However, you don’t want to simply sit by the phone and wait for a call for more than a month or two.
See if you can arrange an agreement for biweekly or monthly updates if you know your case is going to take a long time. Even an email saying “I’m working on your case,” from your attorney now and then is encouraging.
Don’t wait too long for updates, it may be a sign your attorney is not working on your case and has too much on their plate.
8. Their fee is larger than your settlement
If after your lawyer deducts their fees, you are left with less money than they get, you have a problem. Be sure to get everything in writing before you begin your case and make sure you are getting more than what they will take out.
They work for you, which means you are the boss. It is your case, to begin with, and without your case, they would not be paid.
9. No funds after your case are settled
If your lawyer is not returning your calls after your case is settled, you have a big problem. You need to make sure you have a contract that states when you will receive your funds. This should be no longer than one month after the case is settled.
A one-month grace period is a good amount of time for your attorney to get their paperwork in order and cut you a check for your share of the settlement. Typically, it should take no more than a week, but give them the benefit of the doubt by allowing one month.
If you come across any of these issues with your attorney, first try to work things out with them. If that is not possible, don’t be afraid to contact the bar association in your county to report them.