Avoid these errors to ensure you’re giving your client the best representation possible.
As a personal injury (PI) attorney, it’s your goal to represent your client in the best and most effective way. In addition to working with your client, you will be required to work closely with several different people, including their healthcare providers. While it may seem cut and dry, working with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals requires that you know exactly what to say, which questions to ask, what documents to request, and who you should actually be speaking with. And it’s not uncommon for PI attorneys to make errors regarding this process. These errors could lead to problems with the settlement or losing the case all together. Here’s some of the most common mistakes to be aware of and avoid when dealing with your client’s healthcare team.
1. Not understanding the difference between a retained and a non-retained treating doctor
In nearly every personal injury case, there will be a need for testimony from the client’s treating physician. Those attorneys who don’t make the distinction between the client’s doctor that is familiar with their health and has treated them for their injuries versus a hired expert who has the knowledge and expertise to assess your client’s injuries, run the risk of damaging their case.
2. Not meeting with your client’s doctor in advance of a trial date being set
Numerous issues can occur if you neglect to meet with your client’s doctor in advance. Doing so allows you to gather any and all information that pertains to the case and to discuss the possibility of having the physician act as an expert witness on your client’s behalf. Not all doctors are willing to testify and knowing this ahead of time will give you the opportunity to seek out another expert witness. A face-to-face discussion with the physician also demonstrates your willingness to work with them at their convenience and may improve your chances of having their assistance when needed in the case.
Being a personal injury attorney comes with a huge set of responsibilities. Not only are you charged with protecting the rights of your client and trying to get a fair settlement, but you are also required to work with healthcare providers and within the constraints of an industry that is highly regulated. Once you’ve established your relationship with your client and decided that they do indeed have a solid case, keep these common errors in mind to ensure you can represent them in the best possible way.