What Ethical Obligations Does Your Minnesota Injury Attorney Have?
Hiring an attorney to represent you is an essential step when pursuing compensation after an injury. However, choosing the right attorney can seem daunting. Most people aren’t used to working closely with legal professionals. What can you expect?
First off, there’s one thing you should always be able to count on—ethical behavior. In fact, the Minnesota Supreme Court has established official standards for how attorneys should conduct themselves: the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.
To help clarify what you should expect during a personal injury case, let’s take a brief look at what ethical obligations your Minnesota attorney owes you. 1. Competence
The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct state that:
“A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”
In short, Minnesota attorneys are ethically obligated to only take on cases they can handle. This doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed to win the case—only that they are reasonably equipped to try.
Before agreeing to represent you, your attorney should always be certain that they are well suited to the job. If not, they may refer you to a colleague, but they should never try to tackle a case outside of their expertise.
Most law firms provide a free consultation to help them decide if they’re up to the task. 2. Diligence
Your attorney isn’t just required to be competent to take on your case. They must also put that competence to good use. In the words of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct:
“A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”
Your attorney isn’t allowed to slack off or phone in it. Once they’ve agreed to represent you, they’re obligated to give you the best help and advice they can. It’s their duty to use all reasonable means to pursue the maximum compensation available to you. 3. Honesty
Your attorney is also obligated to be honest when communicating with you. They should never knowingly mislead you about:
The details of your case
Your chances of winning
Their own abilities and experience
…or anything else relating to your claim. You need to know that you can rely on honesty and transparency from your attorney at all times.
One of the most important ethical obligations for Minnesota attorneys is confidentiality. Your attorney is not allowed to share information about you or your case with anyone except in rare circumstances.
This means that your attorney can’t discuss the details of your case with their buddies or spread any secrets around town. Anything you tell them stays confidential unless you give them permission to use it in your case. That way, you can open up and share what you have to without fear of it getting out.
There are certain exceptions to this rule, such as if an attorney reasonably believes that disclosing the information will prevent a serious crime or protect someone from injury. However, in most cases, that won’t be a concern.
You also have a right to expect total confidentiality from an attorney even if you never hire them. According to the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct:
“Even when no client-lawyer relationship ensues, a lawyer who has consulted with a prospective client shall not use or reveal information obtained in the consultation…” 5. Communication
You should expect your attorney to maintain open communication with you
throughout your case. This includes:
Keeping you updated about the status of your claim
Discussing the strategy they’re using to help you win the compensation you need
Answering any questions you may have
Responding to any concerns you may have
The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct provides further clarity, stating that:
“…A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.” 6. Reasonable Fees
Minnesota attorneys are also barred from charging excessive fees for their services. Specifically:
“A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.”
Of course, the definitions of “reasonable” and “unreasonable” may seem subjective. The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct lists various factors that should be taken into account, including:
The nature of the professional relationship between the attorney and you
The experience, reputation, and ability of the attorney
The time and labor the case requires
The skills required to represent you properly
Any time limits on the case that require the attorney to act in greater haste
The fees usually charged for similar legal services
Whether the fee is fixed or
Using this information, you should be able to determine whether an attorney’s proposed fee is reasonable.
Do You Need a Minnesota Personal Injury Attorney?
If you’ve been injured, you may be entitled to
compensation—and we can help you get it.
At SiebenCarey, we’ve spent decades helping injury victims get the financial support they need after an accident. Just contact us, and we can:
Explain your rights to you
Investigate the details of your injury
Build a strong case on your behalf
Help you win every dollar of compensation you’re owed
Click here for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.