Trust in your attorney

Place your trust in your Attorney

Attorneys are highly trained professionals who strive to provide the best service possible – and this is why you should place your trust in your attorney.

Attorneys are officers of the court and are bound by the rules of professional conduct.

Trust your lawyerOnce an attorney has agreed to represent you it is of utmost importance that you should trust your attorney as he/she is bound to serve you professionally and ethically.

Trust forms the basis of any attorney-client relationship.

Choosing the right Attorney

Many attorneys specialize in a particular field of the law.

As such it is of utmost importance that you do your research as to secure the best possible attorney to attend to your specific needs and requirements.

In our experience attorneys who specialize have extensive and thoroughly prepared websites with references and details pertaining to references and achievements they have had with similar matters.

Recommendations from close family and friends could also be of value.

Many attorneys offer a free evaluation of your matter and you should take advantage of this opportunity to meet and or engage with a number of these attorneys as to make an informed decision on whom you would be best served with your particular needs.

A good attorney firm relies on their reputation and excellent service to draw the attention of prospective clients.

It is important that your attorney practice due diligence and take care to ensure that you understand the process of claiming and litigating.

An attorney serves as your representative through the maize of litigation and the administration of the process as it progresses to finality.

The attorney serves to protect the client’s interests, upholds the law and ensures that justice is served.

What to expect from your attorney.

The attorney you choose is going to guide you on the legalities of the problem you are having.

It is important that you choose an attorney that you feel comfortable with and have the confidence that he/she will perform and deliver as expected.

All attorneys are bound by strict rules and laws with regards to their professional conduct.

The relevant professional body should be able to confirm whether a prospective attorney are in good standing with the Society and if he or she is a registered practitioner.

Here is what you should know about the ethical rules that lawyers must follow, and how to choose an attorney best suited for your particular needs.

Key responsibilities of an attorney includes the following but are not limited to:

  • Being experienced in the area of law in which you seek representation.
  • Being professional, honest and unbiased in their advice at all times.
  • To treat you with professional courtesy, respect and fairness, regardless of your race, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
  • Being able to at least give you a basic description of your legal matter and the prospects of success.
  • Provide you with a clear understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities.
  • Be diligent in communicating to answer your questions and return phone calls.
  • To keep confidential information between the attorney and the client.
  • Give an estimate on fees and expenses and not expose the client to unnecessary costs.

Once a mandate is given to the attorney, the attorney steps in and effectively represents a shield between the client and the liable person or institution responsible to pay damages.

At Gert Nel Incorporated we pride ourselves in the knowledge and confidence that we tick all of these boxes.

Gert Nel Inc. is a firm of specialised personal injury attorneys committed to ensuring top results, not only by obtaining sterling capital settlements, but also by maintaining the dignity and integrity of their very special clients long after their matters are finalised.  They strive to treat each and every client with the respect and care that they deserve and to make the experience as effortless as possible.

They generally take on matters on a contingency fee basis (no win no fee basis) which means they finance the considerable costs of bringing these matters to trial including the costs of expert witnesses and advocates.

People wanting to lodge personal injury and road accident claims should contact an established‚ reputable law firm.  In RAF cases you need to be particularly alert to misinformation given out by the RAF and rather trust your attorney to do the best on your behalf.

What your Attorney expects from you

Just as your attorney has to follow proper procedures and abide by the rules as a client, you also have some obligations to follow which may include:

  • To provide your attorney with truthful and all relevant information.
  • To treat your attorney with respect, this includes respecting their time and schedule.
  • To inform your attorney of new developments.
  • To provide any information requested from your attorney promptly as to ensure the effective administration of the mandate.
  • To be diligent in your appointments and inform your attorney if you will be unavailable.
  • Once you have accepted your attorney’s advice, trust him/her to perform accordingly.
  • Inform your attorney of any changes or current information.
  • To accept that litigation is a prologued process and can sometimes be slow and frustrating.
  • Accept that your attorney is doing all he/she can to obtain the desired result.
  • To not make contact with the defendant, or anyone acting on behalf of the opponent (or other party) without the consent and knowledge of your attorney as this can seriously prejudice your matter.

We do encounter situations where clients contact the RAF directly to enquire about payments.

More often than not, partial information is given to the client as the RAF representatives are not privy to the administrative process of the attorney resulting in a breakdown in trust between the attorney and the client.

Payment could have been made to the attorney, however, these payments must be subjected to a process of recovery (where doctors have been paid etc.) and reconciliation which may cause delay in payments.

Attorneys are, however, obligated to ensure that monies received on trust are paid to the client as soon as reasonably possible.

The client is best served to contact the attorney to obtain first-hand information on the accounting process and procedure.

Clients can rest assured that in all instances the attorney must provide full disclosure of the reconciliation process.

What to do if your Attorney does not perform

Your attorney is obligated to conduct his/her mandate in accordance with the relevant guidelines.

If, however, you are unhappy about the manner in which your attorney is dealing with your matter, you do have the option to cancel the mandate.

However, we would urge you to have regard to the following:

If you are faced with such a situation, try and secure a consultation with the attorney and discuss your concerns;

If it is a breakdown in communication, there might be a reasonable explanation as it does happen that a client’s address or telephone number changes as the matter progresses (without informing the attorney) and that results in the breakdown of communication.

If you are still unhappy with your attorney and would feel more comfortable in securing the services of someone else, you are allowed to do so.

You should be mindful of the fact that you will be obligated to pay the reasonable and taxable fees and disbursements of the initial attorney for services rendered up to and including the date of cancellation of the mandate.

Your new attorney is obligated to discuss the formalities with you and to ensure that you realise that you might have to pay the bill prior to demanding your file from the erstwhile attorney which may have serious financial implications.

Conclusion

The relationship between the attorney and his client should always be professional and one of mutual respect.

Communication is important and clients should realize that they have the right to have as much insight into their matters as they require.

The course of an instruction may take a few years and it is for this reason that the client should be involved and the attorney diligent in ensuring that his/her client is kept happy and confident, all the while building mutual trust as the matter progresses.

The attorney-client relationship is comparable to a marriage, choose your partner/attorney wisely and cherish the relationship to ensure the desired outcome.

Sources

  • lssa.org.za
  • nolo.com

 

Staying safe over the silly season

South Africans are social animals who work hard and play hard.  As we draw to the close of the year, we gratefully accept any opportunity to celebrate and socialize.  We love this about our nation and encourage it within reasonable limits.

The chances of accidents increase as we approach the end of the year, for a number of reasons, including:

  • We’ve worked hard all year – we’re tired and distracted.
  • There’s an increase in social functions, with an increase in alcohol intake.
  • We’re stressed in different ways by trying to wrap up the year, ensuring we have met all our goals for the year and at the same time trying to plan for the holidays as well as for the next year.
  • Some of us may be feeling the weight of financial strain as we want to provide for our loved ones but are financially constrained.
  • As people travel to be with family and friends, we are travelling longer distances on roads we may not be familiar with.

While the very purpose of our firm is to help victims of accidents, we’d rather accidents were avoided where possible.  Accidents do happen, but as we approach the holiday season we’d like to highlight a few ways that you can prevent becoming another victim, or statistic on the roads or in your home.

So, with this in mind, we thought it a good idea to provide a list of ways in which you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe over the festive season.

  • Accept that people are distracted and/or possibly intoxicated

    This way you can prepare yourself mentally to be more patient and to try and be more tolerant of other people’s driving habits.  Don’t ruin your mood by other people’s poor judgements, rather focus on keeping yourself on the right track.

    By keeping an awareness of your surroundings on the road at all times, you are better positioned to be able to act appropriately if required.

    Remember that a car hijacker’s best form of attack is the element of surprise, so be alert at all times.

    If you live inland, the roads are bound to become emptier as more and more people escape to coastal areas to unwind.  This is not an excuse to be reckless on the roads.  Enjoy the break in traffic, but keep your wits about you.

    For those who live at the coast, your lives are typically turned up-side-down as holiday makers invade your space. Try to think of the benefits to your local economy rather than the temporary irritation.  Be patient and exercise tolerance.

  • Crime statistics increase over this period – take the necessary precautions

    Criminals understand how distracted people are at this time of year too and they capitalize on this.  Take some time out to ensure that your insurance is up to date and review your security. Test your alarms, beams, cameras to ensure they are all working as expected.

    Remind your children to take necessary precautions online and not to ‘chat’ to people they don’t know online.

If you’re going away

 

  • Planning goes a long way

    By now you will probably have done the costing exercise to establish the best way to travel to your destination, depending on the distance and the number of people travelling.

    Should you decide to go by car, try to have a pre-holiday check and ensure that you inflate your tyres correctly for the trip. Don’t forget to inflate and check your spare tyre.  Keep a simple first-aid kit in the car as well as an emergency triangle to warn other cars in the event of a break-down.

    Plan your stops along the way to ensure that you get adequate breaks.  Also plan where you will stop to refuel.

    Ensure that your mobile phone is charged so that you can call for help, if required.

    If someone else is going to be driving your car be sure to check that with your insurance company.

    Please read our blog on what to do in the event of a car accident.

    If you are flying, or going by bus or train be sure to arrive in adequate time.

    If you will be renting a car, remember to bring your license with you.

  • Don’t be a ‘loskop’

    You’re on holiday, but criminals are in their peak season. Don’t leave your personal belonging unattended.  Take as little as possible to the beach.  Is it really necessary to have your cellphone with you?

A few other tips

 

Children

You’re bound to be in crowded places during the festive season.  Write your phone number on your child’s arm so that if they get lost in the crowd, someone can easily contact you.

Drinking and Driving

There are no more excuses.  If you have enjoyed a few drinks, please call a friend or make use of public transport.

Remember the people who keep you safe during the year

If you live or work in a security estate, complex, boomed or patrolled area please remember the security guards who keep you safe.  If you have the means, it may be nice to set some money aside to pass on, or perhaps to provide some small token of appreciation.

A note about pets during the silly season

Our extended furry family are often overlooked at this time of year, but this could be a costly mistake.

The silly season is extremely stressful on our pets too.

As our own social schedule fills up, our daily routines change and we may spend less time with our animals, causing them to be stressed.  A stressed dog can be extremely unpredictable.  Please be sure to give your pets the amount of attention they deserve.  Make an effort to walk and socialize your pets as much as possible so that they do not lash out and bite visitors to your home.

In addition, parties and fireworks can turn the most placid family pet into a terrified, aggressive beast.  If you cannot be with your pets at night, do your best to ensure they are left in a comfortable place, if possible with a TV or radio on for ambient noise.

If you’re going away and are not putting your pets into kennels/cattery or other suitable care, please ensure to have someone responsible take care of your pets during your time away.

If you take your pets away with you you must make sure that there is adequate place for your pet to stay comfortably and that the area is suitably secured.

Holiday Emergency Contacts List

For your convenience, we’ve created a handy holiday emergency contacts list. You can print it out and complete the information. Keep it in a central place and let everyone know where it is.

Let the silly season begin

Have a blast over the holiday season. Be silly but be smart – ensure that all your doors are locked, your brakes checked, you have a designated driver and your kitty is safe and secure.  Now you can go ahead, relax, enjoy and be silly, and safe in the knowledge that you will start off the new year with all your loved ones happy and taken care of.

Personal Injury Warning Signs

Personal Injury Attorneys

A personal injury attorney is someone most of us avoid thinking of and often only start to research after tragedy has struck. This means that most people are dealing with heightened emotions and trauma while having to navigate unchartered territory, not knowing what the references would be, when looking for the best attorney.

Personal Injury Warning SignsAt a time when you should be focused on recovery and taking extra special care of yourself or your loved ones, you shouldn’t be burdened by having to wonder whether you made the right decision or whether all your concerns would be addressed when the process is placed in motion.

As such we recommend you invest a bit of time and do a thorough background check on the attorney you wish to engage in order to select one with a proven track record and good references.

What is personal injury claim?

A personal injury claim is a blanket term used for a claim for personal injuries caused by someone or something else that could have been prevented by applying due care and diligence.

Examples of personal injury are medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, and public liability claims like “slip and fall” accidents or dog bite incidents.

Personal injury law is not only related to physical or mental harm to a particular person but also includes loss of life due to the negligence of someone else.

Against whom is the claim lodged?

 As a general rule the claim is instituted against the wrongdoer but this varies from case to case.

In the event of a motor vehicle accident, the claim will be lodged against the Road Accident Fund (RAF) as they stand in the shoes of the wrongdoer.

If the injury is a result of medical malpractice, the suit will be against the relevant doctor, nursing staff or medical institution responsible.

All other public liability claims will be against the responsible party.  For example, if you slipped at a restaurant the claim would lie with the restaurant owner or if you injured yourself falling in a manhole because the cover was not secure the relevant Municipality may be at fault.

In a dog bite matter the owner would be liable but would in most instances be covered by his or her public liability insurance.

What should I hope to achieve by lodging a personal injury claim?

It is important to remember that the basis of any personal injury compensation is to ensure the victim remains in the financial position that he/she would have been in had it not been for the accident.

In other words, the financial position prior to the accident needs to be compared with the position after the accident, the difference between the two scenarios represents the claimable loss or damages suffered.

In the event of loss of life, the dependents of the deceased will be eligible to claim for loss of support provided that the necessary prove of loss is provided.

How is the compensation paid out?

In some cases settlements are paid into a trust if so required. Many claims are however paid in lump sum directly to the claimant once the necessary accounting by the attorney has been done.

It is of the utmost importance that basic principles of financial planning is applied as these settlements in many instances represents the “final paycheck” and provision would have to be made to ensure that the money is invested as to ensure the long-term financial security intended by the settlement.

Even though the client is allowed to choose how they prefer spending or investing the settlement, an experienced lawyer would be expected to explain to his/her client what route to take and to seek credible financial advice that would ensure the longevity of the financial relief achieved by the claim.

Why do we need personal injury attorneys?

Personal Injury attorneys are specialized and as such should be familiar with the latest legislation and case law applicable to any given case.

Specialized attorneys usually have access to a panel of medical experts and Counsel who are engaged for the sole purpose of evaluating and ensuring that every single need of an injured client is attended to.

If you do not have knowledge of the system, you will prolong the time taken to claim just by trying to educate yourself and will more often than not find that you overlooked principle aspects that would have greatly influenced the outcome of your claim.

A prime example is where a victim lodges a claim directly (unassisted by an attorney) with the RAF. These claims either prescribe or under settle as the victim simply doesn’t know the law nor do they have the necessary experience to determine the true value of a claim.

Engaging the best lawyer is crucial and ensures that the pressure is taken of the victim leaving them with the knowledge that their matter is attended to in a professional and proper way.

The nature of the instruction between a victim of a personal injury and an attorney is a special one and the victim should really be at ease that he/she can channel their energy and recourses toward recovery and leave the rest to the attorney.

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