In every state the conduct of attorneys with respect to their clients are governed by strict ethical rules. Attorney-client relationship is regulated by these rules which also impose extensive obligations on the attorney, and provide for substantial protection of the client’s rights. Under these rules, attorneys have an obligation to decline to represent a client in issues where they lack sufficient expertise. In a worker’s compensation case entailing a traumatic brain injury claim, for example, the attorney must primarily be conversant in rules pertaining to workers compensation and representations before the workers compensation board. But more significantly, the attorney must also be versed in issues relating to traumatic brain injury.
Before a client gives consent to a settlement, the terms of the settlement have to be conveyed to a client and fully explained with all its implications. The client has every right to ask questions on any of the terms, and the attorney is obliged to explain these until all the ramifications are clearly understood. Frequently out of court settlements are reached or settlements before the worker’s compensation board. The litigant has to make a personal appearance before the judge to formally agree to the terms of settlement. This appearance also provides the client the opportunity to inform the judge about any misgivings with respect to his/her legal representation. The client can also advise the judge if the terms of settlement are not clearly understood, or if he/she is being coerced into the settlement and not agreeable to it.
Brain injury attorneys should be chosen with care in which a family can assist; but the family members have no right to intervene on behalf of the victim, if they feel proper legal representation is not being provided. However, if it can be demonstrated to the court that the individual is incapable of making an informed decision and is in no position to protect his/her rights, the court might appoint a legal guardian. An alternative is obtaining a ‘power of attorney’ from the victim provided the victim understands the implications and can make a reasoned decision.