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Building a Strong Attorney-Client Relationship

Maryland personal injury lawyer Matthew Davey speaks on the attorney-client relationship and what he believes is important about it.

I believe the fundamental principle in establishing an attorney-client relationship is having an open dialogue. I do my very best to make myself available to all of my clients at all reasonable times of the day and night. I believe that if a client has a question or a concern, or if they think of something, they should have the ability to get in touch with me to discuss the issue. Clients can either write me an email, which I respond to within a reasonable amount of time, or pick up the phone and call me.

I think that if the client feels comfortable with speaking with me and they know that they will be able to speak with me, and not just my assistant, then this cooperation builds a good attorney-client relationship, which is invaluable in handling these claims.

Benefit of a Strong Relationship

Having a good attorney-client relationship ensures that all relevant and important information is conveyed to the attorney and can be fully discussed among the attorney and the client. Sometimes, a client may withhold information which they do not believe is important. The client may do this for any number of reasons.

The purpose of having an open dialogue between the attorney and the client is to build trust between them  and allow the client to feel comfortable enough to disclose any information that may seem in any way relevant to the case. The thing that people do not really understand is that cases like this can last well over a year, and the focus of the case can change from the time the claim is initiated to the time of the trial. Therefore, things that may not seem so important initially, may eventually become important.

Likewise, if any problems arise the attorney should be able to discuss those issues with the client. One of my goals as an attorney is to keep the client aware of the latest developments in the case in order to avoid any surprises.

When the attorney and client have a good relationship, they are able to communicate throughout the course of the litigation and deal with any issues that may come up, as opposed to simply ignoring them or not knowing about them until it is too late.

Most Challenging Types of Cases

The cases which are the most challenging inevitably are cases where a client has failed to provide me with an accurate medical history. Let me explain what I mean.

In personal injury cases, there are three things which the plaintiff must establish in order to recover. First, the injured person or “plaintiff” must establish that there is liability. Meaning, that the incident was caused solely by the negligence of the other person, the “defendant”. At the same time, the plaintiff cannot cause or contribute to their own injury in any way. Second, the plaintiff must prove that they were injured as a result of the accident. This portion of the claim is often referred to as “damages“. Third, which is often the trickiest issue, is “causation”. This is the term used to describe the link between the incident and damages. Stated plainly, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the damages were caused by the incident. This legal theory should be simple enough. However, it is very rarely simple and often times is the reason so many cases proceed to trial.

Providing a thorough medical history is the best way to deal with the causation issue. Sometimes clients think that their medical history before the accident is irrelevant or not important. This is a critical mistake. Due to this thinking, clients can sometimes fail to disclose that they have had injuries or treatments to the same areas of their body that are at issue in the lawsuit. This type of failure to disclose information can be the death knell to many cases. What happens is the defense can investigate the injured person’s medical history and will likely discover the previous medical treatment. Once the defense has the medical records, than it becomes their job to attack the credibility of the injured person.  Once the injured person finds themselves in this situation, it can be very difficult to get out. These cases rise and fall on the credibility of the injured person. If the jury questions the injured person’s credibility than the jury will likely not return a verdict that is favorable to the injured person. Conversely, if the medical treatment is disclosed than we can deal with the issue from the outset of the case, and prevent the issue of credibility from taking over the case. Instead, we can keep the focus on the medical issues – not credibility.

[Read more about MD personal injury attorney Matthew Davey’s background and experience]

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