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Helpful Tips for Working with an Attorney as an Injured Plaintiff

If you have a legal claim and your goal is to maximize the compensation you would like to recover, I highly encourage you to read this. When clients work with an attorney, they can sometimes make a few mistakes that can make it harder for both the client and the attorney. These are the most common errors, mistakes, and issues that I see happen on a frequent basis.

First, if you have been hurt in an accident or you have been wronged, there is no need to embellish the facts and tell a one-sided story to your attorney, or a potential attorney. This can lead to much worse results than just telling all the facts at the beginning. The most important thing when working with an attorney is to ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH, even if some of the truth hurts your case. REMEMBER: All of your conversations between you and your attorney about the legal matter are considered privileged, so you have nothing to lose by telling your attorney the whole truth. If your attorney knows about all the facts, especially the ones that will raise problems at trial, your attorney will have a better understanding and it will be able to devise a comprehensive strategy based on the actual facts, and not inflated falsities which will eventually come out and hurt your credibility. Never lie or attempt to make your claim into something it is not, this will simply lead to a significant amount of wasted time of not only the attorney’s, but your time as well. Just like your attorney will be attempting to discover all the facts, the attorney on the other side will be doing the same. The truth always comes out, and when it comes out in a way that is a surprise to your attorney, it will make righting the ship a much harder task.

-Always tell the truth, tell both sides of the story, and explain what evidence the other side might be able to present.

It can sometimes be difficult as life goes on to remember to stay on top of your communication with your attorney. It is important to always call your attorney back,and to return their emails when you get them. Believe me, we know what it is like tohave a million things going on, but staying in contact is very important. If your attorney is trying to reach out, call them back. There could be a statute of limitations issue or something else that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. If your contact information changes, remember to update it with your attorney, believe it or not but millions of dollars in legal awards go unclaimed every year simply because the client stopped communicating with their attorney and forgot to update their information when they got a new phone number, address, and email.

-Keep in contact with your attorney, try to check-in at least once a month.

The best thing you can do for your attorney is to keep, save, properly store, and organize documents. Whether they are medical records, police reports, insurance information, text messages, or emails. To maximize your claim the best thing you can do is to keep everything that has anything to do with the claim you are going tofile. Your attorney will ask you for it, and the better state of organization it is in the more time they can research the important aspects of your case.

-Keep all documents that have any relation to your claim, scan them and back them up if possible, the more documentation the better.

Once you have hired the attorney, your role changes. This will be laid out in the “Contingency, or Hourly Fee Agreement” this document is what governs your relationship with your attorney, but also places some restrictions on things you can do. For example, once you have retained counsel, you can no longer speak to the person you are in a legal battle with. If they call you, you need to tell them to contact your attorney. Additionally, you cannot work with other attorneys on the case without your attorney knowledge and consent. All of the limitations in the contract you signed with your attorney are there for a reason. Most of them are done to protect the interests of the client, and must be followed.

-Always follow the fee agreement or retainer contract you signed, and if you do not understand have your attorney explain to you the limitations it has.

Working with an attorney can help to alleviate your legal issues and get you the compensation you deserve. When you do certain things like being completely honest and open, keeping in touch with your attorney, keeping track of all the important documents before handing them over, and following the guidelines in the agreement you signed. Then you are putting yourself in a position to help maximize your compensation or settlement.

If this document interested you or you would like some more information about your claim please feel free to contact us at (402) 409-0909. Also look at the articles titled: Advice for taking a deposition, What is mediation?, Do I have a legal claim?

Simple Tips When Taking a Deposition

A deposition is one of the tools Lawyers use in the discovery period of a legal action.This discovery period allows both sides to use a number of different tools to determine what evidence exists to help the attorneys to prove or disprove the legal claim. If you would like more information on Discovery as a whole, please see the article titled What in the heck is Discovery?

The cornerstone of discovery is the deposition. Depositions are statements made onthe record in front of a court reporter, but not in a court room. They are most commonly done in one of the attorneys’ offices. A deposition involves the attorney taking the deposition, the deponent (the party being deposed), the attorney defending the deponent, and the court reported taking it down for the record. Thereare many strategies and styles of deposition, including certain tactics and skillsets. This information could fill a book, and in fact has, there are many legal books with the sole subject matter of depositions. These are more for attorneys, and as a plaintiff or defendant it’s more important to know how to properly handle yourself while being deposed. These are a few things you can do to make sure your deposition goes well.

1. Always tell the truth, remember that you are under oath. If you are trying to maintain a lie in a deposition it will more than likely come out. The attorney will see an inconsistency and expose the lie, once you have lied under oath your credibility on the stand is ruined, so never lie under oath in a deposition. Honestly, you probably shouldn’t lie in your personal life either, but this is not supposed to be a life lesson in morality. Remember, it is illegal to lie under oath.

-Do not lie under oath.

2. Try to answer your questions with the least amount of information as possible, if this means a yes or no will suffice then that is okay. For instance, if you are asked the question “were you at the party?” You could properly answer with a yes or a no.It would be bad to explain all the details about when you got there what time your car picked you up, who you saw, and every little detail, when all you were asked is ifyou were at a party. If the question requires some explanation then do it as short aspossible, do not ramble on, as illustrated above, the more you give them the more information they have to work with. This is similar to when you call a credit card company to pay your bill, or a medical collections company and they say “We are a debt collector anything said to us can be used to collect a debt,” which, just in case you have wondered, is required by federal law. Then the debt collector asks where you work and if you have any other phone numbers, or additional information abouta bunch of things. Free tip, with a debt collector you never have to give them any ofthis extra information, and simply say I decline to answer and would like to pay my bill. They are just putting any information they can get from you into a database to use in case they need to collect any future debts! A deposition is similar except you actually have to answer their questions, but what you can do is simply answer the question in the shortest possible way.

-Never offer extra information that was not solicited.

Lawyers are as a group of people have their own style of speaking; most people refer to it as legalese. If you are in a deposition and you get a question with a word you do not understand, or a question that is just overly complicated, then tell them you don’t understand and ask them to repeat the question. It is a lot easier to ask them to repeat the question then to back peddle later and say your earlier answer was not what you meant.

-If you do not understand what they are asking, do not attempt to answer the question.

A good rule of thumb is to allow the attorney to finish the question, wait 3-5 seconds and then answer. This will do a few things, it will allow your attorney to think about the question and decide if they should object to the question, it will allow you to put together a good answer, and it will keep the deposition at the pace you want, slow and steady.

-Wait a few seconds before you answer.

This is one that is very important, always listen to your attorney, if they begin to saysomething, immediately stop talking. This can be an objection to the question, or it can be a question about privileged information, the best thing to do is simply stop talking as soon as they start. Remember, it is the job of your attorney to protect you, and in depositions it can be from not only the other attorney, but from yourself as well.

-As soon as your attorney begins to say something, immediately stop speaking.

Do not get stressed out and emotional. This is the ideal situation for the opposing attorney, as soon as they have you emotional and on the ropes, then you are answering from a place of emotion and not a place of logic. In these moments people can blurt out things out of anger just to shut-up the other attorney. Not thinking about your answer and blurting out something that can be taken more thanone way can have a large impact on the quality of your case. This can really hurt your case, it happens and is commonly used by police to get confessions, but in the end this method also tends to produce false confessions. A good technique is to follow the rule above, and allow some time to pass so you do not say something that is not a well thought out answer. To illustrate this, think of how many stupid things that weren’t true have you said to a partner or love interest while in an intense fight, but you did so because you were in an emotional state. The same can happen in a deposition, the difference is it is hard to get things like sarcasm, anger and other emotions down in a transcription. If you sarcastically said the following statement “Yeah…..I shot my neighbors dog!” just because you were annoyed at the attorney asking such a dumb question, remember that when this is read in the courtroom it will be read out loud without the proper inflection and will simply sound like you are admitting to shooting your neighbor’s dog.

-Keep cool and unemotional, if you start getting frustrated ask your attorney for a break.

Finally, something that people feel very strange about, and something that people seem to hate doing. If the attorney asks you about something that you do not know about, simply answer I do not know, or I can’t remember. Never try to piecemeal together something that you think might have happened but are unsure of. Also, never provide an answer because you think you have to answer the question. Do not be afraid to say “I do not know,”.

-If you do not know the answer, then say “I DO NOT KNOW”

Things to Consider Before You Sign a Release of Liability

If you have been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, and have experienced damages, you will more than likely be approached to settle the claim. Either an attorney, or an insurance company, will more than likely provide you with a tempting settlement offer. This can be tempting if you need the money, however many people do not realize that this is done in an effort to limit the liabilities experienced by the insurance company, not in an effort to help you in a quick manner. More often than not, if someone is trying to give you money, especially in aquick fashion, there is a calculated reason behind it. In these cases, the quicker you settle the less likely you will know the true extent of your injuries. Often times certain injuries take time to manifest themselves, the last thing you want is to find yourself at the bank cashing your settlement check a week after the injury, only to have pain handing your check to the teller. The reason this is so devastating is because in order to get this check you signed away any right to make a legal claim against the negligent party, or their insurer. This means that you no longer have any recourse to have your future medical bills paid.

One way to make certain you are getting the proper compensation is to take some time before you settle, even if you do not hire an attorney, please take the time to do a self-assessment of how the injury has impacted your life. While doing this write down every way the accident or injury has impacted your lifestyle, and what you now have to endure because of it. Take a complete inventory and write down anything that has changed in your life due to the injury. This is an exercise everyone should do to make sure they really think about every possible way their life has changed from the injury. I have listed some common examples below, but this is not a comprehensive list.

  • How does this effect your ability to work?
  • Has your ability to move, lift, reach or twist changed?
  • Are there things you can no longer do, or that are even just a bit harder to do now that you are injured? (lifting a child, playing with dog, etc.)
  • Has this changed the way you drive your car or turn the steering wheel?
  • Has this put any stress on your relationships with family?
  • Has this had an impact on your intimate life?
  • Has your ability to sleep changed, experiencing pain at nighttime, or are you having any trouble getting comfortable?-Have you had to change certain muscle memory type movements to avoid pain or further damage? (Ex. the way you open doors, or the way you put on your shoes or a shirt, or the way you lift open containers, etc.)
  • Has this changed the way your employer sees your ability?
  • Do you take additional OTC medicine to deal with pain on a more frequent basis? (acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.)
  • Have you stopped doing any choirs or household duties because they are more difficult or painful now? (raking leaves, washing clothes, etc.)

Preparing for Divorce

Going through a divorce can be a very difficult time. Going through the emotion rigors of a faltering relationship is hard enough, when you add in the legal aspects of a divorce, it only makes things worse. Divorce can make an already troubled relationship become much more adversarial, and make it even downright ugly. The emotion impact aside, there are many important procedure aspects of divorce that you should do in order to get the best results from your separation. One thing that is important is the documents you use to prove what you brought to the table when it comes to marital property. Because Nebraska is not a community property state, marital property is defined as the assets that have been earned together, not through inheritance or property that was owned prior to the marriage, but property that was essentially earned together. This can be hard to determined and the bets way to figure this out is to have proper documentation.

Nobody wants to go through a divorce, and it is not going to be a pleasant experience, but hopefully this list can make it easier for you. In order to get the best possible results from your dissolution case I have listed the documents and information that you should get to move forward with the divorce. If you do not have the documents or cannot find them, then try to figure out a method to retrieve them, and if the document is not applicable and does not apply to you then simply don’t worry about it. This is a list of the documents you should be attempting to gather.

**PLEASE DO NOT GET OVERWHELMED, IF YOU DO NOT HAVE IT WE CAN FIGURE IT OUT**

Assets

  • Marital Home info
    • Mortgage Documents
    • Any documentation from the closing if you still have it.
    • Information about any other real estate that you own. (if you don’t own any other homes, or property do not worry about it)
    • Home owners insurance info.
  • Vehicle information
    • Lease or sales documents, any other documents about the cars you own or lease.
    • Registration information.
    • Insurance documents

Joseph D. Hall & Associates LLC

1065 N 115th #130,
Omaha, NE 68154

phone: 402-990-5953
fax: 402-408-8392