How attorneys spot bad clients

Before accepting a personal injury case or getting deeply involved, personal injury attorneys look for certain clues to help them determine whether the potential client is someone they can work with. One guideline many accident attorneys follow is: “Represent people you like and do not represent people you don’t like.”

Injury attorneys realize that most clients who cause problems give hints of trouble early in the attorney-client relationship. Some of the clues and hints attorneys look for in trying to spot an undesirable client are listed below.

Clients who make it clear that they see the glass as half empty instead of half full

Difficult clients have virtually nothing good to say about their lives. The first few sentences that come out of their mouths are negative references to their lives. If they were involved in a minor personal injury accident, the will never say “Well, at least I’m glad it wasn’t more serious.” If they have been injured and their children were spared injury, they will not say, “I’m so glad my children were not hurt in this accident.” If someone comments that it was fortuitous that the children were not hurt, they will say, “But what about me!” Clients who are unsatisfied with other elements of their lives are unlikely to ever be satisfied with an attorney or the outcome of their case.

Clients who express a philosophy of “entitlement”

These clients will always be dissatisfied and will also make bad witnesses.

Jurors, claims adjusters, and judges like to reward people who deserve to be rewarded. In other words, we all like people who pull themselves up by the bootstraps and who try to see life in a positive way rather than from a negative point of view. Clients who express a positive attitude are a pleasure to represent and are loyal, credible spokespersons in referring other cases.

In contrast, people who exhibit a sense of entitlement will never be satisfied with their attorney or anything else. People with a sense of entitlement feel they are entitled to extra attention, money, results, and satisfaction without ever being grateful about it.

If the case proceeds to trial, the neutral, be it judge or jury, will back away from wanting to see a client be rewarded for such behavior. In other words, the squeaky wheel doesn’t necessarily get the grease when it comes to personal injury cases. Claims adjusters, jurors, and judges will see the people for who they are.

Several signs of entitlement are:

  • Life is defined in terms of money, not happiness and relief from pain.
  • Nothing is ever their fault. They are 100% free from responsibility for anything that happens to them.
  • They are usually angry at everyone but themselves.
  • They will question the attorney’s honesty and competence many times during the course of a case no matter how scrupulous his or her behavior.
  • They lack confidence in any professional whether it be a doctor, lawyer, therapist, or other person providing service to them.

Clients who scrupulously read everything sent to them and who want to control the litigation

It is, of course, standard practice for attorneys to send their clients copies of most correspondence. However, the reality is that only a few clients pay much attention to it. Those few are much more likely to be overcritical than those who let the attorney control the case.

Clients who yell and scream or otherwise raise their voice

This is perhaps one of the most important and obvious signs of an abusive client. These clients should be told to take their case elsewhere. Some personal injury attorneys have a policy of warning the client the first time and if, the client raises his or her voice a second time, withdrawing from the case.

Clients who call excessively

Some clients are needier than others, and this is to be expected. However, some clients call virtually all the time with the same questions. Such clients are more likely to be dissatisfied with the injury attorney’s performance and many attorneys believe the case is not worth the aggravation.