Phoenix Accident Attorneys Explain the Attorney-Client Relationship

“The best accident lawyers in Phoenix will always take the attorney-client relationship seriously and fulfill their duties to you as your legal representative.”

When injured Arizonians go looking for a Phoenix accident attorney, they might not realize that hiring an attorney isn’t as easy as just going to a law firm and saying, “I’d like to hire you.” We all wish it was that simple, especially if we’re trying to recover from an accident.

In reality, if they’re a good personal injury attorney, there will be a process, including an intake interview, which has protections even before a formal attorney-client relationship is established. The personal injury specialists at Goodnow McKay, who’ve built a reputation as top accident lawyers in Phoenix, AZ, warn that it’s actually a red flag if an attorney takes your case without researching it or interviewing you. So, what should happen?

Forming an Attorney-Client Relationship

An attorney-client relationship is a relationship formed when an attorney agrees to provide legal representation to a client and the client consents to that representation. Depending on the area, that relationship can be formed with or without a written agreement.

Intake Interview

According to Attorney Justin McKay, a skilled Phoenix accident attorney will schedule an intake interview with either the attorney or their intake specialist before agreeing to represent you. Whoever interviews you may depend on how big the accident law group is.

Regardless of who interviews you, they will ask you specific questions about your case. The attorney will then review the interview notes and conduct any necessary legal research before letting you know whether they will take your case.

Retainer Agreement

Once they’ve completed their research and offered representation, the accident attorney should provide you with a retainer agreement, which is a written agreement to hire the attorney for your case. They should inform you what they will charge for their services.

There are circumstances when your Phoenix personal injury attorney might start an attorney-client relationship without a retainer agreement. This can happen when there is an emergency situation. For example, if you happen to meet with an attorney the day before your court deadline, they may agree to take the case and file necessary documents first before sending you a retainer agreement.

What’s Special About an Attorney-Client Relationship?

Attorney-client relationships are special because it means that the attorney has certain duties that they MUST fulfill to their client. If they don’t, they can be disciplined by their state bars. So, if you’ve hired a Phoenix accident attorney, they have certain duties to you, including:

    • Duty of Loyalty: Your personal injury attorney must be loyal to you. This means that they cannot represent any other party that may cause a conflict of interest without your consent. They must always act in your best interest.
    • Duty of Communication: Your personal injury attorney must keep you reasonably informed of your case. They need to inform you any time they receive a settlement offer, a judge rules on a motion, or when there is some development in your case that you should be informed of.
    • Duty of Fees: Attorneys must disclose what their fees are and bill their clients responsibly. All injury lawyers in Phoenix who want to take a portion of your settlement as payment have to provide you with a written fee agreement disclosing this as well as an accounting of any costs or expenses related to the case. These are called contingency fee agreements and they’re very common among Phoenix car wreck attorneys and accident and injury lawyers in general.
    • Duty of Diligence and Competence: Your personal injury attorney has to be responsible and competent. They cannot miss a deadline on your behalf or forget to respond to a settlement offer. They also need to be competent in the area of law they’re representing you in. Whether it’s communicating with you regarding your treatment at an accident and injury clinic or telling you to keep records of your bills, your personal injury attorney should be knowledgeable enough to advise you as a personal injury client. Phoenix accident attorneys also have to be competent in all Phoenix accident and injury laws.
    • Duty of Confidentiality: Your attorney cannot disclose any information about your case without your consent. However, they will need to disclose certain information to, for example, opposing counsel or the judge while they’re negotiating a settlement or litigating. Regardless, they must always act in your best interest.
    • Duty of Recordkeeping: Your personal injury attorney has to keep all records of your case for at least 5 years.

What Happens When Your Case is Over?

“Attorney-client relationships are special because it means that the attorney has certain duties that they MUST fulfill to their client. If they don’t, they can be disciplined by their state bars. “

Our resident Phoenix accident attorneys at Goodnow Mckay say that even after the attorney-client relationship is over, attorneys have certain duties to former clients.

First, they still have a duty of confidentiality. A lawyer cannot disclose any case details, including any settlements for personal injury cases to anyone, even other attorneys.

Also, unless they have written consent, a lawyer cannot represent a new client in the same or a substantially related matter when the new client’s interests are “materially adverse” to the former client.

Top Phoenix Accident Attorneys Will Abide by All Attorney-Client Relationship Rules

Phoenix personal injury cases are stressful enough as it is. Clients shouldn’t have to worry about whether their personal injury lawyer is doing what they’re supposed to do in an attorney-client relationship. The best accident lawyers in Phoenix will always take the attorney-client relationship seriously and fulfill their duties to you as your legal representative.

If you’re in search of a Phoenix accident attorney, you can always check to see if they’ve ever been disciplined for violating attorney-client relationship duties by searching their disciplinary history with the State Bar of Arizona.

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