Accident Caused by Driver Who was Drinking: Lawyer Selection Tips and “Pods”

Selecting a personal injury lawyer after an accident caused by a driver who was drinking can be confusing.  This post will address lawyer selection tips focused on client service for the client injured in an accident caused by a driver who was drinking.  Client service is an important feature for anyone seeking to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent them for a DUI caused accident.  Here are two helpful tips: (1) determine whether the personal injury lawyer will be answering your questions during the time he is handling your case; and (2) ask the personal injury lawyer whether he has a client communication policy.

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Determine whether the personal injury lawyer will be answering questions during his representation. Many personal lawyers here in midtown Atlanta and Fulton County are very busy and often find it difficult to answer questions from their clients.  However, this deprives the client who has been injured in an accident caused by a driver who was drinking of quality legal information about their case.  The personal injury lawyer has the legal knowledge not his staff.  Furthermore, it is universally agreed that staff should not provide legal advice.  Yet, “volume practices” (those law firms that handle several hundred clients per lawyer) often succumb to the practice of having their “para-professionals” (non-lawyer support staff) provide legal advice.  This is because the responsible personal injury lawyer in a volume personal injury practice does not have enough time to manage his caseload and answer client calls.  He therefore assigns this important task to his “pod” of para-professionals.  A “pod” refers to the practice that some mega volume personal injury practices use of assigning a very large collection of para-professionals to one lawyer.  This gives the mega volume firm the ability to manage perhaps 250 or more cases per lawyer.  Cheeseball lawyers utilize this case management method. 

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Ask the Personal Injury Lawyer whether he has a client communication policy. Perhaps the number one complaint about personal injury lawyers is that they do not timely return calls or messages and this is true here in midtown and Atlanta.  Personal Injury Lawyers are professionals.  They are highly educated, trained and (ideally) are specialized in their legal representation for accidents caused by drivers who drink.  With that said, personal injury lawyers are nonetheless in the business of providing a legal “service” to their clients.  In my experience, the best way to provide client service is to be immediately responsive to the client whenever he or she has a question about their case.  There are clues to determine whether your future personal injury lawyer is truly committed to client service.  Ask the lawyer whether he or she has a client communication process.  A solid client communication process should provide that the client’s question is answered immediately by any staff who initially respond to a call or email.  For example, a client injured in an accident caused by a driver who was drinking in Atlanta, recently called with a question about his car.  His car was fairly new, had been totaled in the DUI accident, and he was still making payments.  He had “gap” insurance (insurance often sold by car dealerships to cover depreciation).  He wanted to know if he would have enough money to buy a replacement car. His question was not routine so my staff was not able to immediately answer the question. I called within a few minutes of his message and answered his question.  Like most all clients injured in drunk driving accidents, details about their car and when it will be fixed are major issues.  He really appreciated the quick call.

This example leads to an important rule of client service the personal injury lawyer should follow.  If staff cannot immediately answer the question, then the personal injury lawyer should immediately answer the call and respond to the question. If that is not possible, the personal injury lawyer’s staff should immediately set a “hard calendar” date (placing a matter on the lawyer’s calendar) for a telephone conference with the personal injury lawyer to discuss the client’s question.  This telephone conference should occur at the very next available opportunity.  Emails should be answered immediately.

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