Client responsibilities if a personal injury claim proceeds to a lawsuit
After the lawsuit is commenced, your lawyer will contact you about your duties. You will probably have to answer interrogatories and attend a deposition. During litigation it is important for you to do at least the following:
- Stay in touch with your lawyer.
- Inform your lawyer of any changes of address, phone number, work status, marital status or changes in your injury.
- Respond to your lawyer’s letters and phone calls if he or she requests contact.
- Prepare and obtain any documents requested from your lawyer immediately after the request, as there may be time limitations.
- Keep track of all medical bills and lost income and report such information to your lawyer.
- Stay out of trouble, which could be used against you in court such as drunk driving, shoplifting and other criminal activities.
- Maintain your employment status and avoid confrontations with your employer that could be used against you at trial.
Most every contingency fee used by lawyers in the state of Florida provides for an additional percentage if a lawsuit is required. Litigation is a very time consuming and difficult process. Your lawyer will have to prepare documents for court, take depositions, research the law, correspond with the defense attorney, correspond with you, correspond with your witnesses and doctors and prepare for trial. Your file will grow in size and your lawyer will probably have other people working on your case such as secretaries, paralegals and associates. Therefore, you can expect that your lawyer will be very busy preparing your case for trial.
As the client, you may have to answer interrogatories. Interrogatories are questions sent to your lawyer by the lawyer for the defendant. You and your lawyer may be asked to answer a number of questions, usually 30 or more, with various sub-parts. You will prepare some of the responses to the interrogatory questions and your lawyer will prepare some of them.
You will usually be asked about your complete medical history, educational history, work history, and a number of questions about the incident and your injuries. It is important that you take time to prepare your answers carefully and accurately. If you leave something out that is important, or if there is a piece of information that is not accurate, such mistakes can be used against you at trial or at your deposition. It is important to prepare your answers within the time frame requested by your lawyer.
Most clients do not like having to answer detailed questions such as interrogatories and often they put off the task until the last minute. Do not fall into this trap. If you take the time to prepare your interrogatory answers accurately and carefully, you are more likely to have a successful case.