Should You Represent Yourself in a Personal Injury Case?
Surviving the aftermath of personal injuries is challenging.
Besides seeking medical attention for treatment of injuries, you should start building a personal injury claim for compensation. For most people, the easiest way to get compensation from the party at fault is by hiring the services of a personal injury law firm.
However, some prefer representing themselves in personal injury cases. While it’s within your rights to represent yourself and save on attorney fees, filing and presenting the claim takes a lot of time and requires extensive legal knowledge. To file the case, you should gather evidence and provide a deposition.
When Should You Represent Yourself in Court?
Not all personal injury cases require attorney representation. You should consider representing yourself in the following situations:
- If your injuries aren’t serious: The party at fault might consider settling quickly without a fight if your injuries are minor and medical costs aren’t much. This also means you won’t have enough to pay your lawyer for representing you. However, you should be cautious because some injuries worsen over time. For instance, neck, head, and spine injuries have a ripple effect. They can cause other health problems down the road.
- If you intend to file the claim in a small claims court: Small claims courts are more informal than regular courts. You can represent yourself in these courts with chances of success.
- If there is no debate on the party at fault: If it is clear the defendant is responsible for the accident, you can prove fault and get fair compensation without much hassle. Unfortunately, the fault isn’t always clear. Besides, the other party may claim you contributed to the accident.
You should evaluate the case deeply before deciding to represent yourself. Making mistakes in court or gathering insufficient evidence can hurt your case.
The Risks of Representing Yourself in Personal Injury Case
The odds of winning your claim and getting fair compensation are lower if you represent yourself than when working with a personal injury lawyer. The challenges of representing yourself include:
● Administrative Issues
A lot goes into the legalities of a personal injury claim. Representing yourself means you should understand the legal process correctly. You should file the case at the right time, with the appropriate clerk, and pay the necessary fees. You should also collect, organize, and present evidence. The complexity and tedious nature of these processes are enough to discourage you from attempting, especially since you should focus on recovering.
● Negotiating a Settlement
Most personal injury cases end with an out-of-court settlement. However, unlike lawyers, you don’t know how to negotiate with the defendant’s lawyer. While the defendant may offer an amount that may seem significant to you, your case might be worth more. Calculating the cost of current and future medical bills, lost income, and emotional pain and suffering may prove difficult without professional help.
The time and effort required to represent yourself makes shelling out an attorney’s fee worth it. Your personal injury lawyer will handle the legal paperwork, negotiate, gather evidence, and maximize payouts.