This was a rough month. We got a LOT of crazy calls, so I decided to make a list of clients we simply cannot help. If you fall into one of these categories, we are not the best law firm for you.
1) Clients who call my office and won't speak to my staff. I am often unable to come to the phone because I'm busy talking to insurance adjusters, other clients, etc. Also, I often have to shut my door and get busy doing the work my clients hired me to do. When I call my doctor, I don't expect him to drop everything he's doing and hop onto the phone to talk to me. When a prospective client calls my office, they will often be greeted by my paralegal who is instructed to obtain information about the potential case to see if we can assist the client. My staff is very experienced and they can often tell you if we can or cannot help. However, every so often, I get a call from someone who doesn't want to speak with my assistants. Getting information from them is like getting blood from a stone. They will ask, "Why do you want to know that? Why do you need my mailing address? I want to speak with the attorney right now!" Basically, they are demanding people. Here is what I've learned after over 20 years of practice - If a client is going to be difficult on the first day, they will be difficult on the second day, the third day, etc. I can't help clients who won't even talk with my staff.
2) Clients who have pre-existing medical problems who try to blame all their injuries on their car accident. This is known as boot-strapping. Pre-existing injuries and medical conditions should be disclosed to your lawyer so he/she can handle those issues appropriately. If a pre-existing injury was re-injured due to an accident, you still can't blame the entire injury on the car accident. If you've been involved in an accident, you can only claim injury to the areas of your body that were actually injured...not every medical condition you feel like relating to the accident.
3) Clients who don't want to disclose previous injuries and/or accidents. In some cases, the clients provide us with some select information and deliberately hide the rest. If you're not going to be completely honest with us, please don't call. On one of our cases, we recently found out the client had been involved in an accident TWO MONTHS prior to the accident we are handling. They told me they didn't see how the prior accident was relevant so they didn't tell us about it! I can't help clients who hide facts from me.
4) Clients who are more worried about their property damage than their physical injury. Every so often we have potential clients who what I describe as an unhealthy attachment to their vehicle. You'd think a loved one was killed when they talk about their car. While they claim they were injured, the only thing they are really concerned about is fixing their car. While we understand you might really like your car, if that is your main focus, we are not the best law firm for you. Also, if you expect the insurance company to buy you a new car due to the accident, we are not the best law firm for you. I have had some clients who are so focused on their car damage, that they totally ruin their injury case by missing doctors appointments, not following instructions, etc. If the insurance company is short a few hundred dollars on your property damage claim (and they almost always are), then you might make it up on your injury claim unless you sabotage your claim. In short, if your primary concern is your car damage and not your injuries, we are not going to be the best law firm for you.
5) Clients who have unreasonable expectations. If you've been involved in a car accident, you have NOT won the lottery. I don't care if your Aunt Bertha or friend Bob got $25,000 for a minor whiplash injury years ago. Those days are over. If your injuries are limited to soft tissue injuries (sprain/strain), you are not going to get tens of thousands of dollars. Also, keep in mind your settlement is used to pay your medical and legal bills. You will get the balance of the settlement. Some clients forget their settlement is the TOTAL amount, but that amount is used to pay bills. Some clients only focus on the net. "I only got $4000?" I explain, "No, you got $12,000, but we had to pay your medical and legal bills." If you expect too much from your personal injury case, you will most likely be disappointed every time.
6) Clients who try to direct everything we do. Every so often we get clients who try to run the entire show. They tell us, "First, I want you to do this, then I want you to do that, then I want you to say this..." If you want to tell us how to do everything, don't bother hiring a lawyer.
7) Clients who think the value of their case is tied the responsible party's behavior. Sometimes I get clients who think their case is worth more because the responsible party was texting while driving, or the responsible party was rude to them at the scene of the accident, or used foul language, etc. The truth is, if the responsible party admits fault, their behavior is of little consequence. It doesn't matter if the responsible party was on their way to rob a bank. In short, just because the other party is a jerk or a moron doesn't make your case more valuable.
8) Clients who ignore our advice or never get back to us. If you want to bring a personal injury claim, please cooperate with your lawyer and get back to him/her when they reach out to you. It takes "two to tango" as they say! I'm a lawyer....not a magician.
There....I feel much better. Thank you for allowing me to vent.