5 Ways To Be An Annoying Personal Injury Client

Most personal injury clients don’t try to annoy their lawyers. Unfortunately, some of them just have a knack for it. They are not the “clients from hell,” who lie to their lawyers, threaten frivolous bar complaints, ignore their lawyers’ advice or reject reasonable settlement offers because they see their lawsuits as personal jihads against the defendants. At worst, annoying clients do things that make their lawyers roll their eyes, groan, and maybe occasionally do a facepalm. If your lawyer is ducking your phone calls and seems less than enthusiastic to see you, it could be because you are doing one or more of the following five annoying things:

1. Annoying Clients Call Way Too Often

Clients have the right to be kept apprised of the status of their case. However, there will be times during your case when there is nothing new to report. Calling every day or even every week is excessive unless your case is at a critical point, like right before your trial.

It is in your lawyer’s best interest to let you know when something important happens. He’s not going to sit on settlement offers (he wants your case to settle, too). He’ll tell you when depositions or mediation are approaching, as he’ll want you to be prepared. But if you haven’t even reached MMI yet, your lawyer will probably not have anything new or important to report for quite some time.

By all means, if you have new information for your lawyer, such as a new medical provider or a change in your condition, call and let him know. A lot of information can just be given to his paralegal and won’t require your attorney’s direct attention. Calls to give your lawyer important information are never annoying. Calls asking for a status update more than once a month risk being annoying. You will begin to sound like the kid in the back seat asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” A client who calls way too often takes time away from the lawyer working on his case and those of his other clients, and he also makes the lawyer feel untrusted. Don’t be one of those clients.

2. Annoying Clients Bring Their Lawyers Legal and/or Medical Research

Nothing makes a lawyer roll his eyes more than a client walking into his office with a phonebook-sized stack of “legal research” the client has done on the internet. Your lawyer knows how to do his own legal research. He will very likely have better research tools than you. He will know which cases are controlling in your jurisdiction, and which cases are applicable to the facts of your case. No matter how smart you may be, or how good a legal researcher you may fancy yourself, you hired a lawyer for a reason — he’s better at it and knows more than you.

You may think you’re being helpful. You aren’t. I guarantee that the moment you leave your lawyer’s office, your hours of legal research are going directly in the trash bin. Expecting your lawyer to sift through an amateur’s stack of legal research is annoying.

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While not as annoying as bringing your lawyer legal research, bringing your lawyer stacks of medical research from the internet can be pretty damn annoying. Unless you’ve got some bizarre condition that no one you know has ever heard of, odds are that your attorney is familiar with your type of illness. We don’t need articles on back injuries, knee injuries, torn rotator cuffs, post-concussion syndrome, fibromyalgia, RSD/CRPS, depression or a host of other ailments. If your lawyer is unfamiliar with your type of medical problem, he will ask you (or your doctor) about it.

3. Annoying Clients Ask Their Lawyers for Loans

We’re lawyers, not banks. Your lawyer is already risking his time and money by taking your case on a contingency basis. Don’t ask him to increase his risk further by giving you a loan you may never be able to repay. Aside from ethical concerns about engaging in such a transaction with a client, business concerns will almost always cause your lawyer to decline all loan requests. If you are in dire financial straights, there are lawsuit loan companies that may be able to help you.

4. Annoying Clients Tell Their Lawyers About How Much a Friend or Family Member Recovered in a “Similar” Lawsuit

No two lawsuits are alike. This fact is lost on annoying clients, who will invariably ask why their case isn’t worth as much as “so and so’s”, who had the same type of accident and injuries. Really? The same exact accident and the same exact injuries? Did they also have the same job and make the same amount of money? Did they have the same amount of medical bills? Did they live in an area with the same type of jury pool? Obviously not.

When you try to increase your lawyer’s valuation of your case by referring to some other person who recovered more money, you are implicitly questioning your lawyer’s abilities and experience and frankly, insulting him. There are a host of factors that go into your lawyer’s evaluation of what your lawsuit is worth. These will never be the same from case to case.

The more money your lawyer recovers in your case, the more he makes. He has no incentive to take a lowball offer. If you think your lawyer doesn’t value your case highly enough, ask him why. Just don’t try to persuade him by referencing some other case that is likely quite different from yours.

5. Annoying Clients Think Their Lawyers Are Also Their Therapists

Personal injury clients are often emotional, anxious and depressed. Lawyers understand this and most try to be compassionate. Unfortunately, some clients interpret this compassion as an invitation to air all of their personal problems at length. There is a reason therapists charge by the hour for this type of service. Lawyers do not have the time to act as their clients’ therapists, and most would not be very good at it anyway.

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Lawyers anticipate that some “hand holding” will be required when representing a personal injury client, but clients who take advantage of this rapidly become annoying. If you call your lawyer for no other reason than to cry and complain about how miserable you are, you’ve crossed the line.

Call a friend. Call family. Call your priest or therapist. Don’t call your lawyer when you just need a shoulder to cry on. The fact that you would even consider such a thing (given lawyers’ reputation) just shows that you probably need professional help.

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17 Responses to 5 Ways To Be An Annoying Personal Injury Client

  1. L Barada says:

    Okay, I may be a slightly annoying client, but I really just want to be able to understand what is happening. I have a personal injury case going from a hit and run accident. My injury is an annular tear of the lower lumbar disc. The insurance company is agreeing to settle for the policy limit of 15,000, and then my lawyer advises that we will file a claim against my uninsured drivers policy. I went to a chiropractor on advice from my lawyer, when the pain continued I went for a MRI showing the annular tear. I went to physical therapy and will have to continue to do it each day for the rest of my life. I am not a good candidate for surgery. My attorney is pushing me to settle the case, and I want to, but I required an addendum to the original retainer that stated all the new offers my lawyer has made to entice me to settle. However, there is a clause in there now that states I should seek independent legal council before signing the agreement, but seems impossible to do (I have made several calls to the state bar and referral services whit no luck). My question is, how do I accomplish this and what type of lawyer or council do I seek? I was thinking a contract lawyer or another personal injury lawyer, but I feel under qualified to make the right decision. Thank you in advance for any assistance or non-legally binding advice that you may provide.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      As to your question about who to consult about the new agreement, I would use another personal injury lawyer if I were to use anyone at all (while this is a contract issue, it is one that is specific to personal injury cases which any PI lawyer will understand). The warning about consulting with another lawyer is mostly “CYA” language your lawyer put in there in case a dispute over the contract arises in the future. If you understand the contract terms and are happy with them, it’s unlikely another lawyer is going to find something wrong.

      You’re probably having a hard time finding someone to do this because it’s kind of an unusual request. Lawyers usually don’t get asked to review other lawyers’ fee contracts. You’ll probably have more success if you come up with a fee amount to propose to the prospective lawyer that will make this worth his time. Depending on your location and the size of your contract, $200.00 as a flat fee seems reasonable to me — you could try a lower amount at first to see if you get any takers.

      I am a little confused as to exactly what you are adding to the fee contract. When you say “I required an addendum to the original retainer that stated all the new offers my lawyer has made to entice me to settle”, I’m not sure what you mean. You’re just listing all the offers that the other side has made thus far? To what end? It may help to know what the goal of this addendum is.

    • grant says:

      after reading your post I understand why you arent a good candidate for surgery. Annular tears happen often. Sometime from just bending down to quick. Sounds like a MIST claim

  2. Yoyo says:

    I am laughing at this…I have been on my lawyer like cheese on macaroni…That is because everyone was telling me too because he could steal from me…You know =settle my case without telling me or be spending my settlement right now or evening using my case money for personal leverage…It was driving me mad…I did not have any peace for a minute, but then my lawyer would say something crazy like I don’t have a case yet and I thought…Are you kidding? I was in ICU and its your job to build the case so if I don’t have a case then you shouldn’t be my lawyer but I wouldn’t say that I would just feel it and then I would not hear from him for weeks…It made me feel uncomfortable considering that I thought he had gotten to comfortable and relaxed. I felt while he was taking it easy that the defendant was erasing evidence and based on the original response court paper they are. They have asked for my injuries to be proved and I am thinking are you kidding, you put me in ICU. They have something in common with my lawyer.
    What is this?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I think you may have unrealistic expectations as to what lawyers do to prove their cases, perhaps from TV (lawyer shows are almost universally wrong about how things work). Most of the time, we don’t have CSI-type teams swoop down on an injury site to preserve evidence — mainly because we’re not allowed access to certain areas without a court order, which we can’t get until after the lawsuit is filed. In most cases, this isn’t necessary anyway, as there will be witnesses and other evidence to show what happened.

      Your employer asking for your injuries to be proven in its answer is really a procedural formality. It isn’t anything specific to your case. Essentially, they are just saying that they aren’t admitting that your injuries and damages are exactly as you claim so that they can have their own doctors come in to dispute the damages claimed. So, if you say your damages are $1,000.000.00, they would dispute that and perhaps say that they are $800,000.00. They are just preserving their right to enter their own evidence as to the extent and amount of your damages. Don’t take it personally. It happens in nearly every personal injury case.

      As to the times that you don’t hear from your lawyer, there are many times while a case is being put together when your lawyer is just waiting for documents, such as medical records, and doesn’t have anything new to report. This is not unusual. I doubt that your lawyer was just taking a break, especially because in your other comment you stated that he already filed suit.

  3. Tim says:

    Maybe you should write an article about how Lawyers annoy the client after all in the end it is the client who is paying for the service. If a Lawyer is getting an annoying amount of calls, maybe thats because he does not keep the client informed which they have an ethical duty to do.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Seeing that this site is directed at informing personal injury plaintiffs, and not lawyers, writing an article for lawyers really wouldn’t make too much sense. Of course, I’ve already written articles about lawyers not returning phone calls, overcharging for their costs, and being afraid to go to trial, along with responding to hundreds of comments in which I tell people how to deal with attorney issues, so I think your criticism is due to you not really browsing the site. I suggest checking out the site guide.

      This article is really for those who may not realize that they are being annoying (which may explain why their lawyers dread speaking to them).

  4. Gerry says:

    I have been an annoying client by calling often, because I have not spoken to him for a year now. I have been with my lawyer for 3 years and they have completed the discovery phase. When I am able to speak to his paralegal or associate, they say “oh he really needs to speak with you about your case,” but then I never get a call. No one else there will give me any answers as to an update. Over a year ago I signed a release with a generic drug company to avoid going to court. Then my lawyer calls me a few months later and said that they did not mean to send out a release. Sorry about it– they sent it and I already signed it, right? He said he was going to still pursue that small sum of money. He continues to represent me and go after the brand company for my injury. Should I be concerned that he has not returned my call? Something seems odd that I have not spoken to him since after I signed that release.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Instead of repeatedly calling and missing him (or him dodging you), take my advice from this article and just schedule a 15-minute phone conference with him. Then he has no excuse for not being available. I can’t speculate as to what is going on with that release.

  5. Indipress says:

    I’m really glad I got to read this. The last thing I want is to be that annoying client. I never call my lawyer, I have emailed him from time to time just giving him updates on medical and or just saying thank you for his hard work and how much I appreciate his help. Hope I haven’t already crossed the line of annoyance.

  6. Gemma says:

    So am I the annoying client because I don’t feel as If I am? My accident happened October of 2011 when a Pepsi Truck driver ran into me as I was driving out of the store parking lot. At first they denied but then sure enough, it was on video. So my car soon was fixed after but as far as the rest of the suit goes, it’s been nothing but excuses and lies. I understand it takes time buy seriously its been over 3 yrs. I literlly call weekly and usually get voicemail. He will always call back with excuses or with some story as to why its delayed. Literally its been things such as “I sent papers and Im waiting, to I was dealing with ex wife and stalkers, To the other insurance agent is rude and hard to deal with, I have to send those papers ( aka the ones he always claims to send but really its just to pacify me as if he is actually doing something, to getting a new agent at the insurance company, to some other cases taking up time to the new agent has died. Now after many voicemails and annoyed calls to him he said in January he sent a demand and would be 30 days. Months later its now we have no response and make take months before mediation can happen. I really do want to fire him yet dont as well for that reason of having to potentially pay for whats already been done. I know statute in our state is 3 years and that has passed and I really and concerned as to what I should do? No matter what I do to press for answers its never anything concrete or reassuring that something is actually moving forward. I feel like time is passing and I just getting strung along and possibly will get nothing out of this? Advise please?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If he hasn’t filed suit yet (and from what you’ve written, it sounds like he hasn’t — but you should get confirmation from him directly), it’s time to talk to a legal malpractice attorney. They aren’t going to pay anything on a claim that is past the statute of limitations, and the only way it hasn’t run is if he’s filed suit or they agreed in writing to extend it, which is unlikely. It may be that he is stalling so that the malpractice statute of limitations runs (though the argument can be made that his deception tolls the statute), so I’d get on this right away.

  7. Rick says:

    I have never been an annoying client (i.e., making many calls) up until the time of my signed settlement. This personal injury case took 3 years and I finally settled and signed an agreement (release included). It has been 5 months since then and my lawyer has yet to return my call. His office offers very little help on getting in touch with him or giving me an update on the settlement funds status. I do not believe I am annoying now, rather a concerned client that is not receiving reasonable ethical update on settlement funds. As I expressed to his office personnel, I really just want to know if settlement money has been dispersed to his trust account. So, am I annoying or do I have a legitimate concern given the 5 months span of non-communication? I understand the matter of lien issues and such. However I still should be informed should I not? And I will per advice on ‘Lawyer not returning calls’ try to arrange a call appointment to talk to him. However I feel that his office will simply tell me that they cannot do this because of non-awareness of his schedule; this is the way their help seems to go. Should I be more patient or is time of the essence to act now.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      You’re not being annoying. Definitely follow the advice in my phone call article, and don’t accept any claim that they don’t know his schedule. Lawyers make appointments for hearings and phone calls with the court and opposing counsel all the time. Our schedules need to be kept accurately and often far in advance. If they claim he doesn’t have 15 minutes to set aside within the next 2 weeks, they’re lying. Any resistance to making an appointment should be met as I suggest in the other article, first by mentioning his ethical requirements and next with an actual bar complaint if that doesn’t get you your call.

      • Rick says:

        fl_litig8r: Thanks a ton for the prompt reply. I am trying to maintain composure and not rush to the threat (and point of no return) of complaint to state bar. However, every time I call his office number, the female worker (same person each time) says she will text him to call. A week goes by…no word. I call office again and same tone of ‘I will text him.’ More than several weeks of the same continues. I have made it clear that I just want an update (along with suggestion of ethical courtesy) on my settlement funds status. The last time I called I asked her for advice on what I can do to reach him because texting him was not working. Of course she went into I will text him mode again. I finally asked her to leave a memo on both his and his partner’s desk to please call me (sorry, did not leave a designated time for that). The way things have been going, I do not have high hopes on anyone getting in touch with me. However, and again, I will wait a week or so. After which I plan to take the more exact and progressive steps enumerated in your helpful article. Note: I should have mentioned this at first. He did say that whatever medical liens exist on case he would be willing to negotiate for me for a lowering of lien amount. I agreed to let him do that since it would not cost me anything extra and perhaps save me money. But still should I not receive an update by now (5 months after signed settlement agreement), especially since I am requesting one. I must say that now I am feeling a since of mistrust.

        • fl_litig8r says:

          Even if he’s negotiating your liens, by now he should have at least gotten word to you as to what’s going on. Try the telephone appointment tactic and if that doesn’t work, involve the bar.

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