Q&A with Tim Salvatore: What can clients do during a case to help their lawyers?
Let me set the stage so that you have some context for my answers. You’ve been seriously injured. Your world is consumed by chaos, adversity and pain. You made the right decision to hire a lawyer, a lawyer who will take your injuries as personally as you do and fight to get you the results you deserve. Your part in the process doesn’t stop there. You must help your lawyer help you.
Can you provide some specific details?
First and foremost, you need to be open and honest during the initial interview. I need you to tell me everything. Our conversations are confidential, protected by attorney-client privilege. Holding back information will create tension and prevent me from being able to protect you. I can’t even try to protect you if I don’t know from what you need protection. It’s better for us to have a conversation early on about what information you would prefer not be disclosed, if at all possible. The attorney-client relationship works best if it’s built on trust, from the start.
What else can I do as a client?
I know that this sounds so basic that it couldn’t ever be a problem but it is at times — you need to stay in contact with me. I want regular updates. I need to know how to get in touch with you. You can call, text, email, send snail mail, set a phone conference or in-person meeting … just stay in touch.
I suspect that not staying in touch is part of the healing process. You’re going to get sick of dealing with all the complications, trying to put your pain out of your mind as much as possible, and trying to get on with life. Contact with me can, for some clients, disrupt that process. By association, I’m a reminder of everything that they’ve been through and I make them focus back on everything. I try to be mindful of that dynamic, but I still need information.
There is another issue that ties in with this dynamic: getting treatment. At some point in the healing process, you’re going to get frustrated and just want to get on with life, especially if you’re not making more than modest progress in your recovery or your medical providers are struggling to identify the exact problems and come up with effective treatment strategies. You’ll be tempted to stop treatment, not follow through on treatment recommendations, and tell your doctors that you’re fine — just to get out of more treatment. Those are some of the worst things that you can do for your case. The at-fault party’s insurance company and lawyers are going to use your decisions not to get treatment to try to destroy your claims and deprive you of the compensation that you deserve. Don’t let them. Follow through on treatment recommendations. If you are still having problems, go see your medical providers until you exhaust all of your treatment options.
Should I be talking to you about treatment decisions?
Absolutely. You should seek guidance from me in dealing with any of the problems that you face because of the injuries that you’ve suffered, not just treatment issues. Chances are that I’ve dealt with or helped others deal with just about any problem that you’ll encounter. If I can’t help you, I’ll tell you but more often than not I can at least steer you in the right direction. That’s particularly true when it comes to treatment. I’m never going to tell you that you have to go to a specific doctor or go through specific treatment, but I will recommend that you treat with competent doctors and I will help you find competent doctors with whom to treat. I can also help you navigate the myriad of insurance and medical payment issues that can prevent you from getting the treatment that you need.
What else should I be talking to my lawyer about?
Ask questions. I work for you. I’m a valuable resource. Unlike lawyers who bill you by the minute, it costs you nothing extra to ask questions of me. Chances are that this is the one and only time in life that you’ll deal with the problems that come up when someone else causes you harm, whereas my job is to help deal with such problems day after day.
Is there anything that I shouldn’t be doing?
Posting on social media is a problem. I’ll try to keep this simple: Posting the details of your life online, regardless of whether you think that your posts are private or not, is not a good idea.
Your use of social media is likely to have an adverse effect on your claims and case. You should assume that all of the world has access to your postings, tags, comments, pictures … despite any privacy safeguards you attempt to put in place. Courts have forced individuals who maintain social media accounts to provide their access information to adverse parties and insurance companies so that they can review all information. This means that if you post any information or your friends post any information that may be detrimental to your claims or case, the adverse parties and their insurance companies in your case will likely gain access to that information and use it against you.
Contact our personal injury lawyers if you have questions about your personal injury case. At KBG, we are determined to get you the Results You Deserve©.