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Client Mindsets: Understand, Manage, Win


“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
– Epictectus (~100 AD, Greece)

This truth appears self-evident, right up until the point that something happens to you. Some people are able to be even-keeled about pretty much anything that life throws their way. The rest of us are human. We find it difficult to manage the random surges of ever-changing emotions that may affect us after a traumatic event.

As personal injury lawyers, dealing with clients who have gone through trauma is your reason for existence, so what follows is a quick refresher to remind us all that ultimately we’re all human. And that if we understand what these human beings — who happen to be relying on you to help them through a tough time — are going through, we can better manage the relationship with them. And by doing so, we can engage them more fully, which in turn enables us to secure the best outcome for them.


Auto Accident Victims

Auto accident victims are often traumatized and in pain, both physically and emotionally. They may be anxious about their health, financial stability, and the future. Here is what you can expect from such clients.
• Expectations: They expect swift action, clear communication, and empathy. They often hope for a quick and fair settlement to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
• Interactions: These clients may be impatient and frequently check in for updates. Their communication can be urgent and emotional.
• Responses to Verdicts/Settlements: Relief and satisfaction if the outcome is favorable; frustration or disappointment if it is not.


Workers’ Compensation Claimants

Claimants of workers’ compensation are often worried about job security and financial stability. They may be anxious about their health, family, financial stability, and the future.
• Expectations: They expect thorough investigation, strong advocacy, and reassurance that their rights will be protected.
• Interactions: These clients might be more cautious and reserved, frequently seeking reassurance about the process.
• Responses to Verdicts/Settlements: Gratitude and relief if successful; feelings of injustice if unsuccessful. Emotional state is heavily influenced by the perceived fairness of the process.


Premises Liability Plaintiffs

These clients often feel wronged and seek validation of their injury and its impact. They might be skeptical about the defendant’s responsibility.
• Expectations: Plaintiffs expect diligent investigation, clear proof of negligence, and compensation for their suffering.
• Interactions: They can be detailed-oriented, frequently sharing additional evidence or insights they believe are crucial to the case.
• Responses to Verdicts/Settlements: Satisfaction if validated; disillusionment if they feel the outcome downplays their suffering. Their emotional state can change based on the perceived thoroughness of the investigation and advocacy.


Product Liability Plaintiffs

Clients often feel anger and betrayal towards the manufacturer, especially if the defective product caused significant injury or harm.
• Expectations: They expect a thorough investigation, expert testimony, and a strong advocate to hold the responsible parties accountable.
• Interactions: These clients can be detail-oriented and invested in the technical aspects of their case. They may frequently provide additional information or research they have done.
• Responses to Verdicts/Settlements: Satisfaction and validation if the outcome is favorable; frustration and a sense of injustice if it is not. Emotional states are influenced by the thoroughness of the investigation and the perceived accountability of the responsible parties.


Managing and Winning with Clients

While the specifics of each client and each matter are certainly different, you can see a pattern emerging in terms of mindset, expectations, interactions, and verdicts. The benefit of this as a personal injury attorney is that following a clear set of guidelines can help you better manage these clients as you work with them through their journey, and as you help them win. Here are some universal strategies that should work across all of these client types:

1. Build Trust:
• Establish trust early by being transparent, honest, and demonstrating competence.
• Follow through on promises and commitments.
2. Communicate Clearly & Consistently:
• Use clear, jargon-free language to explain legal processes and options.
• Be consistent in communication frequency, ensuring clients never feel abandoned.
3. Be Empathetic and Supportive:
• Show genuine empathy and understanding of their emotional and physical pain.
• Provide resources for additional support, such as counseling services if appropriate.
4. Manage Expectations Every Step of the Way:
• Set realistic expectations about timelines, potential challenges, and outcomes.
• Discuss possible scenarios and prepare them for both positive and negative outcomes.
5. Involve the Client:
• Involve clients in the decision-making process, ensuring they feel a sense of control and ownership over their case.
• Encourage clients to share their thoughts and concerns openly.
6. Follow Up After the Case:
• Follow up with clients after the case concludes to address any lingering questions or concerns.
• Seek feedback to improve services and show clients that their opinions matter.

By adopting these strategies, personal injury attorneys can enhance client satisfaction, foster trust, and increase the likelihood of receiving positive reviews, ultimately leading to a stronger reputation and more successful practice.