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How can a brain-damaged client get the most from an attorney?

Attorneys have a difficult task ahead of them when they're dealing with a brain-damaged client.

If an attorney has never handled a case involving a brain-damaged client, he or she may not realize how carefully he or she needs to go over each step of the claims process. He or she may also not know how to go about making sure that the client understands his or her choices -- or when it may be time to ask the court to appoint someone to act on the client's behalf because the brain injury is too severe and the client really can't make sound choices.

If you're a close friend or family member helping someone who has suffered a brain injury choose an attorney to represent him or her, experts recommend that you ask the attorney some specific questions to make sure that the victim is getting the best possible representation:

  • How many cases involving brain injuries like this one has the attorney handled? The more familiar the attorney is with victims of traumatic brain injuries, the better.
  • Will the case be handed off to another attorney? It's often difficult for victims of brain injuries to make rapid adjustments, so it's important to know ahead of time who the victim will be working with on the case and that it will always be the same person.
  • How much of the attorney's practice is devoted to handling brain injury cases? Attorneys, much like doctors, often take on different types of cases. The victim is looking for an attorney with an active interest in brain damage cases.
  • How does the attorney feel about working with a victim's power of attorney? In some cases, the victims of brain injuries realize that they can't quite understand the complexities of the legal situation they are in -- but they aren't incompetent either. In those cases, they may agree to give a third party power of attorney to make informed decisions on their behalf. That can often help ease the process for both the attorney and the client -- but only if it is really necessary.

Even mild traumatic brain injuries can alter a client's personality, affect his or her memory and cause impaired judgment. It's important to have an attorney who expects these issues to arise and knows how to respond to them with compassion.

Source: bianj.org, "What Are an Attorney's Obligations When a Client Has Had a Brain Injury?," accessed Nov. 29, 2017

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