Personal Injury

How Can I Tell If My Personal Injury Lawyer Is Doing a Bad Job?

By David Berg, Attorney
Chances are you're not in the habit of filing personal injury claims, so it's not always easy to know if your lawyer is handling your case the right way. Here's what to consider.

When you hire a professional to do something that you can’t do -- or, more to the point, something that you're not qualified to do -- you might find yourself wondering whether that person is doing a good job. It's the same with accountants, electricians, and even lawyers. You've put your finances, your home, or your legal case in the hands of a trained professional, but there's usually no way of gauging that person's skill level, or the results of their work.

In the context of a personal injury claim, chances are you know very little about how these cases typically play out -- including what the best strategy might be at any stage, and what kind of resolution might reasonably be anticipated based on the facts. That’s why you hired the lawyer, after all. So, is your case in good hands? Here's what to consider.

What is Your Lawyer's Reputation?

The first thing to think about is, apart from what is or isn't being done on your case, does this lawyer have a track record of success? If your attorney came well-recommended, and has an impressive online pedigree (learn more about Selecting the Right Personal Injury Lawyer), maybe it's time to be patient. You might be too close to the case to see real progress, or maybe a turning point is just over the horizon.

Is Your Lawyer Leaving No Stone Unturned?

A thorough investigation of all aspects of a personal injury case is essential. A good personal injury lawyer will, among other things:

  • visit the accident scene if at all possible, and take pictures
  • get all documents relating to your accident, including police reports
  • talk to (or have an investigator talk to) all witnesses to your accident
  • get all of your medical records and bills relating to the accident
  • get all of your prior medical records that might have some relationship to your current injury
  • have a good line of communication open with the insurance adjuster and defense attorney
  • respond to your telephone calls, emails, letters, and texts promptly
  • make sure that he/she understands the applicable law
  • keep you informed on the status of your case
  • appear to have an organized file, and
  • if the case is in suit, meet all court-imposed deadlines.

Does Your Lawyer Talk the Talk?

Does it seem like your lawyer knows the facts of your case and has a firm grip on the applicable laws? If so, then that's a good sign. But on the other hand, if your lawyer doesn’t seem to have good recall about your case without referring to your file, if he or she avoids your calls, or can’t seem to answer your questions, or is giving you doubletalk, then that is pretty good evidence that your lawyer is doing a bad job on your case -- or at least not making your case a priority -- and that you should strongly consider getting a new lawyer.

Does Your Lawyer Have Something to Hide?

Finally, does your lawyer seem like he/she is trying to hide something about your case? This is a big one. If your lawyer won’t keep you informed about the status of your case, that’s a huge red flag. If he/she won’t give you copies of documents from your file or won’t give you copies of court papers that have been filed (by either side), that is a bad sign. When lawyers try to hide things from their clients, that can often mean there has been a procedural mistake, like missing a court-imposed deadline, and the attorney is scrambling to fix it before the client finds out. As the client, you have an absolute right to see your file and to be copied on incoming and outgoing correspondence. If your lawyer has a problem with that, then you should have a problem with your lawyer.

Learn more about Working With Your Personal Injury Lawyer.

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