Tips to Avoid Malpractice Claims
One of the biggest fears for any attorney or law firm, especially large “personal injury mills” with little margin for profits, is being challenged in court over their conduct. Making sure that you are able to properly care for your clients while avoiding controversy can be a major advantage. This is a learning process that all attorneys need to go through and can be advanced with good advice. Speaking from experience, I’ve seen good attorneys going through accusations simply from misunderstandings. Many cases can be avoided simply through clarity.
Simple Steps for Personal Injury Lawyers to
Avoid Malpractice Lawsuits
The steps below can help you along in the process:
- Clarity is Key: Making sure that you are always crystal clear with your clients can be tremendous. Making sure that you properly explain procedure ca be a major step, especially for clients that are not versed in legal practice. Speaking in terms that are easy to understand, coupled with taking the proper time to do it can be a vital step. This can be intertwined with what the clients are looking forward to. Make sure that clients’ expectations are properly managed– and realistic. Some, especially in the aftermath of a traumatic event, may be looking for immediate closure. Making sure that they understand the time-frame and reasonable financial outcomes is one of the top expectations.
- Write it Down: Write down as many of the vital steps as possible. Make sure that you take detailed notes, including dates, times, and places of meetings and conversations. Keep copies of a retainer letter and any other agreements. It is always good to have documents notarized and copies kept. Furthermore, it is important to write down client reactions and if they request specific actions. Your advice should be written down, as well as if they take any action that goes against it.
- Timeliness is Next to Godliness: Being punctual in every part of your practice can put you a step above. Make sure that you are on time to every meeting and hearing, as well as in estimates. Overestimate the amount of time that certain steps will take, and make sure that your deadlines are realistic to begin with.
- Constant Contact: Keep in contact with your clients, especially on their terms. Find out what type of communication they prefer and how often it should happen. Keep records or notes of all conversations, including asking their opinion of your job performance. Write memos to the clients regarding each step of the process and how you completed them. Make sure that you respond to their inquiries quickly and professionally.
- Don’t be Sloppy: Many cases come about because an attorney doesn’t listen to their instincts. Taking on a client that you know would be more trouble than it would be worth could be a major red flag. Taking on a case with unrealistic expectations can also be significant, as can suing for any fees, which could cause a counterclaim for negligence.
Keep all of these in mind as you expand your business and create a foundation to build the rest of your career on.
Michael Ehline is a Los Angeles-based personal injury attorney. He offers advice for up and coming attorneys that aim to create a solid law practice. His experience reading the law gives him insight into the modern legal system. Ehline Law is involved in many community and legal endeavors to make both better places.