As a Virginia (VA) attorney handling injury cases like automobile accidents for about 18 years, I have come to recognize preparation as the key to success in handling serious injury cases in Hampton Roads, Virginia (VA) or in any court. The best attorneys prepare their cases better than the insurance defense lawyers who they go up against.
The lawyer can’t control what the facts are in a car crash or the severity of his client’s injuries. One thing that the personal injury lawyer can control is being more ready than the insurance lawyer at each step of the accident case, from claim to jury verdict. I pride myself on being a master of the facts and law as it relates to any car or truck wreck case that I am working on. If I know more about what is going on with the accident case than anyone else involved in the process, I can be sure that I am in the best position to get the maximum recovery possible for the client and their injury. If the injured person’s lawyer really is a master of the facts and the law through preparation, then often the insurance claims representative, the defense lawyer, and even the judge may defer to that lawyer as to what the exact facts and applicable law is for the case.
The injured client typically knows how prepared his lawyer is in handling his accident case. Does the lawyer know who he is when a client calls about his accident case? Does the lawyer come to a deposition having already interviewed the witnesses and with a written list of questions or topics to be covered? Has the injury attorney consulted with the expert witnesses such as doctors before trial? The answers to these sorts of questions show the person who is hurt in an automobile accident case that the lawyer representing him is prepared.
If you are not satisfied with the way your lawyer is preparing your injury case, you should ask for a sit down conference with them to figure out if they are the right person for the job. You always have an absolute right to change attorneys. The worst thing that could happen if you change attorneys is that the first attorney may ask for some compensation for his time spent on the matter. However, in Virginia (VA) the fired attorney is not entitled to ask for his percentage fee in the contract, under our Virginia (VA) ethics rules. Although I do not recommend changing attorneys unless absolutely necessary, if you get the sense that your attorney is not prepared or is not communicating appropriately with you about your lawsuit, then you should feel free to contact other injury attorneys to discuss the matter. If you call me about your desire to change lawyers, I will usually first recommend that you try to get straight with the old lawyer. However, if you do want to change I usually suggest that do so as soon as possible before your injury case has been moved forward in a way that may be hard for a better lawyer to undo.