February, the season of love. With Valentine’s Day just behind us, I am sure your relationship with your lawyer was exactly what you were thinking about! All kidding aside, the relationship between a lawyer and her client is a sacred one and one that is so important it is extensively governed by the North Carolina State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct as to what you must, can and cannot do. The lawyer-client relationship is so important and revered that it has a privilege that while not absolute, is treated with the utmost care and respect. Just like in any relationship, one of the most crucial factors between a lawyer and her client is communication. Communication is key to understanding all aspects of the case from both a factual and legal perspective. If either party holds anything back or is not 100% honest with the other, it can have a detrimental effect on your case—no matter what type of case it is.
ALL Relevant Information is a Must!
I am not saying you must tell each other your life story from birth, but there can be information that you do not think is relevant because it happened a long time ago, or you just do not see how it has anything to do with the case at hand but, omitting it will certainly make it look like you are trying to hide it or cover it up to the other side. For example, any prior criminal history or prior personal injury claims would be important knowledge in a subsequent personal injury claim. However, your lawyer is trained as to handle what may be considered “bad” facts or the relevancy of the information, so let your lawyer know so they are not caught off guard by the other side. However, the communication must go both ways, not just from the client to the lawyer. Sometimes there are things that may be difficult for a client to hear about their case. It is often hard for someone to be objective about how certain facts may affect the outcome of a claim. Not every case is the perfect case. Many of them have issues that can affect the result in one way or another.
Happy Client, Happy Life
It can be difficult to let a client know about problems with their case because at the end of the day, we are also a customer service business and we want our client’s to be happy. Happy clients lead to repeat clients or referrals. On the other hand, failing to tell a client about things that can have a negative impact on their case is a.) unethical, but b.) will only lead to an unhappy client in the end.
Heart to Hearts
Sometimes you and your lawyer must have a heart to heart about the pros and cons of your case. That does not mean that your lawyer is not on your side. They are just giving you a realistic view of what could happen instead of only telling you what you want to hear. For example, you and your attorney have a differing opinion as to the value of your claim.
Let’s Be Real
Most personal injury case attorneys work on a contingency fee, meaning they do not get paid unless you prevail, and then the attorney has a percentage stake in the settlement amount. It is important for you and your attorney to have a realistic conversation as to the value of the claim and why each of you think it has that value.
In North Carolina, there is no fixed formula for pain and suffering, an element in most all personal injury claims. That is one of the many reasons it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side who can have those tough conversations, not only on your behalf, but with you as well. Whether you are injured in North Carolina or South Carolina, at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, PC, we appreciate the opportunity to see if we can help.