What Are a Lawyer’s Obligations When a Client Has Had a Head Injury
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
When you, or someone dear to you, has suffered head or other traumatic brain injuries (TBI), you’ll need to determine whether it is a result of someone else’s negligence and, if so, whether you have legal grounds to claim compensation.
In such an event, it is critical to acquire legal representation from a reputable Michigan law firm. Look for demonstrable experience in personal and head injury cases and a head or brain injury lawyer who understands and fulfills their obligations to the client that has sustained the head injury.
But what are an attorney’s obligations when a client cannot fully understand their options as a consequence of a head injury? Here, difficulties can arise because the client may not be fully aware of their rights or decisions. There are rules in place that govern the attorney’s conduct towards the client and what to do if the client’s understanding has been impaired.
Ethical rules govern the conduct of an attorney’s legal service, regulating the client-attorney relationship and imposing obligations on the attorney while providing significant rights for clients. Attorneys are expected to explain legal processes (in the case of head injury, those related to injury law), to always act in the client’s best interests, and to refrain from misleading the client in any way.
This remains constant in the event of a client with a head injury. The Michigan Courts Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.14: Client Under a Disability, states the following:
- “When a client’s ability to make adequately considered decisions in connection with the representation is impaired, whether because of a minority or mental disability or for some other reason, the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client.”
- “A lawyer may seek the appointment of a guardian or take other protective action with respect to a client only when the lawyer reasonably believes that the client cannot adequately act in the client’s own interest.”
Rule 1.14 also states: “The fact that a client suffers a disability does not diminish the lawyer’s obligation to treat the client with attention and respect.”
This means that the attorney is compelled to conduct a relationship with the injured client commensurate with the same procedures and ethical treatment afforded any other client. The attorney must keep the client informed in precisely the same manner as any other client unless the lawyer has grounds to believe that their injury has significantly impaired the client’s understanding.
Power of Attorney and Guardianship
In a long term head injury case arising from a car accident that may preclude the client from effectively communicating with the attorney or lucidly partaking in their case, the attorney has the following options:
- If a designated family member can communicate coherently with the injured individual and obtain a written “power of attorney,” this will afford the designee the legal right to substitute their judgment on the client’s behalf. For “power of attorney” to be legally valid, you must demonstrate that the individual who bestows the document (the client with a head injury) can make an informed decision.
- Alternatively, if you can demonstrate to a court that the client is incapable of making informed decisions and cannot adequately defend his or her rights, proceedings can be instituted, and you may seek a court order for the appointment of a legal guardian. The court-appointed guardian is then entitled to substitute their judgment for that of the impaired individual concerning the lawsuit.
Choosing the Right Attorney for Your Condition
To ensure you have the best lawyer for your type of head injury, research questions to ask during your consultation. Do not be afraid to raise questions you may find to be emotionally sensitive, as they can help you to ascertain whether the attorney fulfills their obligations to you and your condition. Ask the attorney to describe their previous experience with personal injury cases involving head injuries.
Here are some questions you can ask:
- How many cases similar to mine have you handled in the past few years?
- How successful have you been in representing clients with injuries like mine?
- Do you stay up to date on research related to head injuries and TBIs?
- Are you up to date with current practices of how to legally represent clients with head injuries?
- Will you be handling my case personally?
- How much time can you dedicate to my case?
Asking the right questions at your consultation is essential because lawyers who generally handle personal injury cases may lack familiarity with the specific symptoms of various types of head injuries or TBI’s, which is why it is critical to find an attorney who specializes in head injury cases.
Our team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. has extensive experience in traumatic brain injury cases to ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. We also have extensive experience in other practice areas, such as medical malpractice and car accident cases.
For example, trial attorney and Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. senior partner Eileen Kroll, who previously worked as a registered nurse in a surgical intensive care unit, specializes in medical malpractice claims and has a strong track record with clients with head injuries.
If you feel that your judgment may be too impaired to make coherent decisions about your proposed attorney, bring a close family member or someone you trust with you to the initial consultation.
Remember, your prospective attorney is compelled by law to treat you ethically, including disclosing why he or she would be the best attorney to represent you and the experience they bring to the role.
If you end up hiring a lawyer who does not fully grasp the consequences of your head injury and fails to represent your best interests in the case, you have the right to choose a new attorney at any time.
File Your Compensation Claim Now
If you or a loved one have suffered due to the negligence of another and require assistance making claims related to head injuries, contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. today. Call us at 866-779-7331 to schedule your free consultation and work with an attorney who brings experience in litigating head injury cases.
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., our attorneys work hard to seek justice for our clients in personal injury cases, including head injuries. We also have a track record of taking the fight to insurance companies, large medical product manufacturers, and trucking companies on behalf of our clients when they feel understandably overwhelmed by the challenges involved.
Our contingency fee means we only get paid if we win your case. The risk to you is minimal, so you can pursue compensation while focusing on recovery.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.