People frequently have reservations about hiring a lawyer when facing a personal injury case, especially if the case seems straightforward. “Why split my settlement with somebody else?” they reason.
The amount of people opting to “save money” by advocating on their own behalf is high. A National Center on State Courts report states that 65% of suits brought in California, 71% of those brought in Florida and 68% of those brought in Wisconsin did not involve an attorney.
But is this really the wisest choice?
The first thing to consider is the fact that our legal system is highly complex. Every detail of your correspondence with the other side could be used to reduce your settlement later. To maximize your chances of the highest possible settlement, you will have to know the legal system in and out.
Most personal injury cases come down to proving negligence. Negligence, a failure to take reasonable care to prevent the harm, is central to why attempting to litigate without legal counsel is so difficult.
This is in part due to the way the courts interpret “reasonable care.” How do you prove that someone failed to take the reasonable amount of care to prevent the injury? In some cases, you will be able to rely on bodies of existing law and interpretation, although it would take years to learn it all and prepare for the case. In others, you have to be able to convince the judge and jury that you were the victim of negligent behavior.
For example, let’s say you were involved in a car accident in which the other side exhibited negligence. How do you prove this without counsel? Since they will dispute your claims, you may need to:
- Demonstrate that the defendant broke the law.
- Locate and utilize expert witnesses.
- Show evidence that the person acted in a manner that is unusual for a rational person.
- Use circumstantial evidence.
This is best done with a strong background in law.
Hiring the right attorney should not be taken lightly. The impact the attorney has on the case could change the kind of healthcare you receive, the amount of money you are given, and the general quality of your life for a long time. Here are some things to consider when choosing counsel:
- Is the attorney on a “no win no fee” system? If the lawyer you are speaking to is willing to take on the case with no upfront fees, they will only get paid if they win. That means A) They think you have a strong case and B) They will work as hard as they can since if they don’t win, they don’t get paid.
- Does the attorney have references? It is always okay to ask your lawyer for references. They may be constrained by the type of information they can reveal but a good lawyer will be known in their community.
- Are they registered with the BAR association? This is a blindingly simple step that many people miss when selecting at attorney.
- Do they have online reviews? Websites, including Yelp, Findlaw, and MartineDale offer revealing reviews about attorney performance. You will definitely reduce the risk you are taking by selecting a lawyer with good online reviews.
- What kind of resources does the lawyer have? If your personal injury case is highly complex, you may need the resources of a larger firm (and the accompanying, higher price tag). Simple auto accident cases can be handled by a single attorney, but pharmaceutical injuries which require an in-depth understanding of the pharma industry, for example, may require a specialized firm.
- What is their track record? Some cases the lawyer has been involved with may be available via your County’s Superior Court website. Take a look and see if they won any favorable judgments.
- What is their personal injury track record? Make sure you are dealing with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases. Any lawyer can legally litigate a personal injury case but only people who make this their specialty should be considered.
Good luck! With the right research, we are sure you will find the attorney which is best for you. If you wish to discuss your case not charge, feel free to contact us HERE.