What is the Best Way to Remain Informed when Working with an Attorney?

When you retain an attorney for a personal injury, family law, or other type of legal matter, you have the right to expect that your lawyer will keep you informed of what is going on with your case. Attorneys have an ethical obligation to keep their clients informed, and you should insist on communication and responsiveness when you first hire them.

This does not necessarily mean your attorney needs to contact you every single day or return every phone call or email within an hour. Attorneys are very busy with many clients to assist, hearings to attend, etc. That said, you should expect that they will answer your calls or emails within a reasonable period of time, and that they will provide frequent updates on the progress of your case.

What You Should Expect from your Attorney

Communication, responsiveness, ethics, and competency are all important elements of an attorney-client relationship. Here are some other things you should expect from your lawyer:

  • Knowledge of their Area(s) of Focus: Every lawyer has certain areas of practice that they specialize in. Skills in these areas are acquired by going to law school, passing the Bar Exam, and practicing law for a number of years. Your attorney should have the type of in-depth knowledge that comes from not only studying law but also knowing how the law is applied within their locality.
  • Empathy and a Willingness to Listen: Your lawyer should be someone that you like and trust to skillfully advocate on your behalf. This starts by thoroughly understanding your unique needs and goals, so they can develop the right legal strategy to accomplish your objective. Your attorney can only know and understand your needs if they take the time to listen to you.
  • Clarity in Communication: As a client, you may have some knowledge of the legal matter you are dealing with, but it is usually minimal. Your lawyer needs to be able to clearly explain how the law applies to your issue and your rights and options in light of what the law says. The better your understanding, the better you are able to make informed decisions on which legal path you wish to pursue.
  • Prepare your Case for a Successful Result: Your lawyer should be able to give you competent advice that comes from their wisdom and knowledge of the law, while allowing you to make the ultimate decision on how you want to proceed. They should also be able to prepare your case according to your wishes in a way that puts you in the best possible position to obtain a favorable outcome. Your lawyer should negotiate strongly on your behalf, and if there is a trial involved, they should be well-prepared to successfully present and argue your case.

What Your Attorney Should Expect from You

To increase your chances of a successful outcome with your legal matter, there are some ways you can help your attorney:

  • Tell your lawyer everything you know about the case;
  • Do not give them any false or misleading information;
  • Abide by all agreements and follow through on everything you commit to do;
  • Let your attorney know as soon as possible about any new information or developments in your case;
  • Provide any information they request from you promptly.

How to Remain Informed when Working with an Attorney

Most individuals that are involved in a legal matter want to stay as informed as possible on the progress of their case. If you do not believe that you are getting the answers you need from your attorney, there are a couple ways you can approach this situation:

  1. Ask your attorney to be more responsive

Most attorneys are very busy, and sometimes, their lack of responsiveness may just be the result of a lot of demands on their time. In fact, they may not even be aware that you are frustrated by their lack of communication. Many times, this can be rectified with a simple conversation. Contact your attorney and let them know you would like more frequent updates on what is happening with your case. And if you don’t believe they are responding quickly enough when you call or email them, let them know that too. Do not be angry or blame them, just make the conversation businesslike, stating these things as a matter of fact. More often than not, you can come to a reasonable understanding with your attorney on how often they will stay in communication with you.

  1. Consider changing attorneys

If you have tried talking to your lawyer and their responsiveness does not improve, you may have the option to switch to a new lawyer. However, this option is not without consequences. First of all, your current lawyer may be entitled to payment for work already completed. If the case is on a percentage or contingency fee basis, you may owe them for hours already worked and/or expenses incurred. There are also times when the case is too far along to change lawyers. This is why your first recourse should be to attempt to resolve any issues you may have with your present attorney, and you should only consider changing attorneys as a last resort.

Tips for Keeping School Kids Safe at the Bus Stop

Fall has arrived, and millions of children throughout Virginia are back in school. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely riding a school bus than riding in a passenger vehicle. Two of the main reasons are that buses are larger vehicles and provide more protection for passengers inside, and that buses are among the most regulated vehicles on the road.

The NHTSA goes on to say that the biggest risk for school kids is not when they are riding the bus, but when they are approaching the bus and exiting from it. Children who are walking to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, and getting on and off the bus are at risk of various types of hazards, such as vehicles driving nearby, slip and fall accidents, and many others. We all must do our part to ensure that they are able to get to and from school safely.

Here are some tips for parents and drivers to keep school children safe around bus stops:

For Parents

  • Have your Child(ren) Arrive Early: Safety starts with making sure your kids arrive at the bus stop before the bus’s scheduled arrival. Whether you are walking them to the stop or they are going on their own, be sure they get there about five minutes or so ahead of time. Rushing to catch the bus at the last minute can pose all sorts of hazards, so make it a habit for your child to get to the stop ahead of time.
  • Exercise Caution around Buses: Teach your kids to be careful when they are waiting for the bus. Have them stay at least six large steps away from the curb and let them know that the bus stop is not a place to play and run around. Children should never walk behind a school bus, and if your child must cross the street at a crosswalk opposite a school bus, instruct them to always make eye contact with the bus driver so they know the driver can see them.
  • Make Sure your Kids Onboard and Exit the Bus Safely: Have your child avoid rushing onto or off of the bus. They should wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and for the driver to open that door and say it is okay to onboard or exit. Instruct them to use the handrails while getting on the bus to avoid slipping and falling.

For Drivers

  • Drive Slowly: When driving in school zones or behind buses, be sure to slow down and allow yourself plenty of time to react to pedestrian and bicycle traffic and sudden school bus stops. Buses frequently need to slow down to pick up and drop off kids. They are also required to come to a complete stop at all railroad crossings. Always drive at a safe speed when you are behind a bus and while kids are around the bus stop.
  • Watch for Kids Approaching or Leaving: Children are unpredictable, and they often dart out into traffic when they are in a rush to catch the bus. Horseplay at the bus stop can also be a hazard as kids can sometimes end up in the street. Be mindful of kids walking on sidewalks and crossing the street near bus stops and be extra cautious when they are nearby.
  • Avoid Distractions: When kids are at or near a bus stop, drivers need use their full peripheral vision to stay focused on what is happening around them. Be alert and avoid distractions such as responding to a text or email. It is not worth risking a life to return a text. If a situation requires an urgent response, pull your vehicle over and put it in park, so you can handle the situation safely.
  • Obey Virginia School Bus Stopping Laws: There are stiff penalties in Virginia for failing to stop when a school bus is loading or unloading passengers. In fact, a violation can result in a reckless driving charge, with the possibility of having your driver’s license suspended for six months, fines of up to $2,500 and the possibility of jail time. If you are driving behind a school bus, you are required to stop when the signal arm is raised and remain stopped until it is lowered. Vehicles approaching the bus from the other direction must also stop if they are on a two-lane road or multi-lane paved road. If you are on a multi-lane road with an unpaved space or barrier in-between and you are coming from the other direction, you are not required to stop, but proceed with caution.

What to Do if You or Your Child is Injured Near a Bus Stop

By following safety rules, we do our best to prevent bus stop accidents and injuries. But sometimes, we follow all the rules and an accident still occurs. This is often due to negligence or reckless behavior by one or more individuals. If you or your child was seriously injured around a bus stop, you may be entitled to compensation.

At the Law Offices of Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., we have in-depth experience representing individuals who have suffered severe injuries and fatalities due to another party’s negligence. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of personal injury law, and what it takes to ensure that parties responsible for these types of injuries are held fully accountable.

For a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, contact our office today at (703) 361-1555 or send us a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.