While TV lawyers and small claims court shows make arguing a case look easy, the reality is far more challenging. Personal injury law is complicated, and plaintiffs seeking compensation need the help of a qualified personal injury attorney to get the compensation they deserve after an accident. In some states, 80-90% of those who go to court are unrepresented, while the opposing party has a lawyer.1
While there are some civil cases where you can represent yourself with a reasonable expectation of success, being unprepared for or unaware of court procedures can have a devastating effect on what should have been a winning case. While criminal cases may allow for a court-appointed counsel for criminal defense, if you have a personal injury you will need to hire a lawyer or go it alone in the courtroom.
Legal aid corporations report that 86% of low income Americans go without professional legal advice for civil cases. Before you make this critical decision, consider these 5 reasons it may be bad to represent yourself in court:
Limited Courtroom Experience
No matter how self-confident you are, standing before a judge and arguing a case against experienced attorneys seeking to pick apart your every argument is tough. Many well-prepared and intelligent plaintiffs become tongue-tied when the time comes for them to plead their case. Experienced personal injury lawyers are at home in the courtroom and can argue your case with confidence and authority.
2. Missing Deadlines or Responsibilities
Legal proceedings must be completed within strict deadlines and time limits. Delays in filing responses or motions with the court can put your entire case in jeopardy. An attorney is aware of and familiar with the process and won’t let your case die on the vine due to missed deadlines.
3. Lack of Legal Knowledge
It’s not impossible for an individual to learn the ins and outs of the law concerning their personal injury case, but it is very difficult. Even if you are an intelligent and well-prepared person, you can be tripped up by obscure points of law when you represent yourself in court. Understanding your rights is a complex process that is made easier with sound legal advice.
4. Limited Access to Expert Witnesses
Expert testimony from doctors, safety experts, engineers, and other experts can often make or break a personal injury suit. The other party will likely have a standard list of expert witnesses that will support their view of the events. Having your own attorney will give you the same access to experts.
5. Negotiating Settlements
Many personal injury cases are settled out of court. Insurance company attorneys will do their best to lowball plaintiffs on settlement claims. You might agree to a settlement that’s much lower than you should receive because you cannot accurately judge the value of your case.
Consider the Bottom Line
Having a personal injury lawyer to represent you will streamline your case and help you to recover from your losses. Your attorney will help you receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and other costs you’ve been stuck with by no fault of your own.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you don’t have to fight the insurance companies and their attorneys alone because of your financial situation. Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers, can provide you with the legal representation you need on a “no fee unless you win” agreement. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you get the money you need for medical treatment, lost wages, and other needs.