What personal injury lawyer cannot do for his clients?
There are many great things that a personal injury lawyer can do for his clients, but there are some things he cannot do. The top five things he cannot do are:
- Take a case with a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is if there is a risk that the attorney’s representation of the client could be adversely and materially affected by the lawyer’s own interests. An example would be if you are seeking damages from a doctor because of a surgical mistake. When you reveal the name of the doctor, your attorney learns he is defending him in another case. This is a conflict of interest and he cannot accept your case.
- Loan money. Personal injury lawyers frequently are allowed to front costs of lawsuits and handle a case on a contingency basis. This means there are no fees collected unless the case gets to settlement. But the lawyer is not allowed to loan a client money or pay a bill for him. This is illegal. This type of temptation can arise when a personal injury client is unable to work and his short on cash to pay medical bills. But it is a major ethical violation for an attorney to pay those costs for the client. What the lawyer can do is offer the doctor who is owed money an attorney lien. This is where the doctor is given an agreement stating as soon as the settlement comes in, the doctor can collect what he is owed before you receive any money.
- Guarantee case result. A personal injury attorney cannot guarantee 100% that the case will end in a successful settlement or verdict. This is careless and unethical because nothing is for certain in the law. There are always possible risks in a case. Even if the attorney has a high level of confidence of success, guaranteeing a case result is an ethics violation.
- Give out private information. As the client, you should feel like you can be open and honest with your lawyer and that he will not betray your trust. Anything you say to your attorney is subject to lawyer/client privilege and should not be divulged to anyone else without your permission. This law also prevents the lawyer from ever being called as a witness against his own client.
- Go against your interests. A personal injury attorney is not allowed to misappropriate your funds. It is common for the attorney to handle the funds that comes from a settlement. The final settlement often comes in one check and from that amount, the attorney pays medical bills, attorney liens, pays legal fees, takes his contingency fee and the rest is sent to you in a check. Lawyers are required by the law to disperse funds fairly and quickly. If they do not, it is an ethics violation that can result in disbarment.