Working to Avoid Collateral Emotional Harm to Clients: Cases and Recommendations for the Personal Injury Attorney

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Abstract

Attorneys working in the area of personal injury face complex cases in addition to many potential ethical and practice hazards. They are trained, educated, and have experience in handling and discharging their responsibilities in such cases to the best advantage of their clients, whether plaintiff or defense, while maintaining a professional integrity and appropriate ethical stance. Ideally, personal injury attorneys will practice from a position of virtue, serving their clients in their efforts to recover and regain their quality of life. Nevertheless, factors such as financial and work pressures can intervene, leading to inappropriate conduct that may harm their clients and risk professional alienation and malpractice. In the present article, seven case examples are provided that illustrate how personal injury attorneys working for plaintiffs can act in unethical and harmful ways, ultimately endangering their practice. The article is oriented to attorneys at all phases of their careers and includes recommendations for avoiding the types of harm and unethical practice that have been described. Also, the article presents strategies that psychologists treating these patients can take to remedy further emotional damage to patients.

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