The world of personal injury is a minefield to navigate on your own, and the right lawyer can make or break a case. The law in Australia has grown extremely technical. Parties are no longer able to navigate the system by using common sense. Procedural rules are hypertechnical and can toss even the strongest claims when plaintiffs fail to avoid key errors.
Nevertheless, the attorneys make up for this by typically handling personal injury cases on contingency to remove the risk of legal error injury from ordinary Americans who can’t afford to gamble with the outcome. Let’s consider the seven top legal obligations that you should be aware of before you hire a personal injury lawyer.
#1: The Case-File is Yours
When you hire a personal injury attorney to do legal work for you, the work-product is entirely yours. You have a legal right to receive a full copy of the materials when representation is terminated. You can demand that you are given a copy at any time to help your appellate lawyer assist you in the case or to hire another lawyer.
This means that you are never trapped and stuck with the same lawyer on appeal or even during the pendency of a case if you are dissatisfied. Of course, the retainer agreement may have some contingencies if you entered into a contingency agreement for representation.
#2: An Attorney Retains a Fiduciary Duty
A fiduciary duty goes beyond the client-attorney professional relationship. A fiduciary duty means that the attorney has to act in every aspect to protect your legal interests.
They cannot use the information gathered from their consultations with you to help the insurance companies beat your case. They cannot knowingly do anything that might jeopardize your legal rights or create legal injury. And this fiduciary duty persists even after the termination of the representation.
A personal injury attorney must keep all communications with his clients and prospective clients confidential. Unless you state something that puts yourself or others in immediate danger, an attorney cannot release anything else confided between the attorney and client without a formal and signed release of information.
#4: Simple Contracts
Contract laws have changed and now require contracts to be drafted in common parlance. This means that you cannot be manipulated into signing a contract that has all sorts of legalese jargon that an average person would not understand.
#5: Exercise Ordinary Care
Under legal malpractice standards, an attorney is usually free from liability unless they failed to exercise ordinary care. This means that they cannot be sued unless they make major mistakes that any other attorney would have reasonably avoided. The standard of care has to be established by another attorney in their field and experience range who can validate, for example, that failure to hire a witness in a complex medical case is negligent malpractice.
#6: An Attorney Cannot Commit Fraud or Act Unprofessionally
An attorney cannot deceive clients into representations by making false promises. An attorney cannot guarantee that a party will win the case, only that they won’t charge them for any of the legal work carried out on their behalf unless they win.
Furthermore, an attorney is not ethically allowed to use past success cases in a manner that misleads clients into believing that they will receive the same outcome as someone who won a $10 million car accident judgment, for example. An attorney is not allowed to hold themselves out as a specialist but can only show that they are experienced in certain facets of the law more than others.
#7: An Attorney is Accountable to the BAR
The state BAR association is entrusted with disciplining attorneys who violate specific rules of professional conduct or act unethically. The BAR association is typically made up of state Supreme Court judges or other judicial administrations to suspend and revoke licenses of attorneys who fail to meet reasonable standards of professionalism and care. There are also legal funds, in most states, that are set up to help clients who incur legal injury as a result of an attorney’s malfeasance or negligence.
Contact Foyle Legal Perth for a free consultation on your personal injury claims. We strive to maintain high ethical standards and act with the utmost professionalism. Don’t wait another day. Pick up the phone and see how we can help you effectively present your personal injury claims.