Personal Injury

Should My Personal Injury Lawyer Be Sending Me Copies of Everything in My Case?

By David Berg, Attorney
A personal injury claim involves a lot of paperwork, from medical records to deposition transcripts and court filings. But that doesn't mean that the client needs to see all of it.

As the client, you certainly have the right to see everything in your file. (More: Can I See My Personal Injury File?) But the majority of personal injury lawyers are not in the habit of copying their clients on everything, and the majority of personal injury clients don't demand to see copies of everything that their lawyer sends and receives. So, when does it make sense for a client to be "copied" on documents, and what should you do if you're not getting the kind of access you want?

Seeing the Highlights, Not the Whole "Game"

A personal injury case generates a lot of paperwork. A complex claim can easily fill a dozen file boxes. Most clients simply aren’t interested in seeing copies of every letter and every transcript that the lawyer sends or receives in the case. They are okay with just seeing the highlights. For example, most personal injury lawyers will send their clients things like the defendant’s answers to interrogatories, the deposition transcripts of important witnesses, and the defense attorney’s or insurance adjuster’s response to a demand letter.

A lot of the paperwork that a lawyer generates and receives in a personal injury case is relatively standard and pretty uninteresting to the client. An example of this might be medical records. These can be extremely voluminous, running hundreds or even thousands of pages. Most clients don’t want to see their own medical records. If there is something really important in the client’s medical records, such as a damaging statement by the client as to medical history -- an admission that the client previously experienced an injury similar to the one now being claimed, for example -- then the lawyer will generally send that to the client so that the client is in the loop and can explain or contextualize the statement.

To See or Not to See -- It's Up to the Client

So, the lawyer generally sifts out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to "copying" the client on documents. But it’s always the client’s call. If you want to be copied on everything, that is your right, but it’s probably a good idea to discuss that with the lawyer before you hire him or her. (More: What Should I Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer at My Free Consultation?)

The bottom line is that you’re probably not missing much if the lawyer doesn’t copy you on everything. You hire a lawyer because of his or her expertise and experience handling cases like yours. Some lawyers just aren’t in the habit of copying the client and may not want to be bothered. You should not assume that they might be hiding things from you. It's most likely just the working style that the attorney has developed over the years; in other words, it's not usually one of the telltale signs that your personal injury lawyer is doing a bad job.

As with most issues that crop up in the course of the attorney-client relationship, this question of whether or not you need to see everything your lawyer is doing usually boils down to whether or not you feel like you can trust your lawyer. Part of trusting your lawyer means you have confidence in the lawyer's abilities and expertise, and you don’t necessarily feel compelled to see everything that is sent, received, and prepared in connection with your case. But if you don’t trust your lawyer, then having him or her copy you on everything probably won’t be good enough. Rather than focusing on whether or not you're seeing all documentation related to your case, you might want to focus on finding another lawyer. Learn more: Can I Fire My Personal Injury Lawyer?

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