The Difference Between Hiring an Attorney & Representing Yourself5 min read

speaking with an attorney

“He who represents himself is a fool for a client.” –Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was an attorney. As brilliant as he was, he understood when to accept help and that the courtroom is no place for egos.

For a person unfamiliar with the legal process, it might sound easier to just go to court without an attorney. However, few understand the practical differences between representing yourself and hiring an attorney.

For example, the average person receives a settlement three and a half times larger with legal assistance than without it (Insurance Research Council).

If you’re still undecided about the best way to pursue a negligent party for your losses, we break down the differences between hiring an attorney and representing yourself in the next few sections.

Taking Legal Action for Personal Injury

The details surrounding your case are unique and you might feel like no one will understand your needs.

Some consider representing themselves over hiring a lawyer, believing it may be an easier path. Yet most are not aware that the process isn’t as simple as it may appear. Lawsuits are complex and the process can often be overwhelming.

For the vast majority of personal injury cases, hiring an attorney is decidedly in your best interest. This proves true as the seriousness of your injury or losses increases.

  • Non-injury cases: For simple property damage cases, you may not need an attorney.
    • If you were involved in a minor accident and the other party is cooperative, you may not necessarily need representation.
  • Injury cases: Yes, you need an attorney.
    • If you have suffered a serious accident or catastrophic injury, the projected value of your damages is higher. More is at stake if you lose a legal battle.

In either case, our attorneys can provide you with a free case assessment to help you decide how to move forward.

Representing Yourself

Filing a lawsuit on your own requires a crash course in the laws of your local jurisdiction, awareness of statute of limitations, and diligent record keeping. Representing yourself or going “Pro Se” will mean you must provide all of your own evidence to support your case. This is also known as the “burden of proof.”

Before you send a demand letter to the other party’s insurance company seeking compensation for damages, the following checklist may help your claim.

overwhelming paperwork

How to prepare your claim:

  • Take pictures of the property damage, the accident scene, and injuries.
  • Obtain a copy of the police report (for car accident cases).
  • Get medical treatment as soon as possible.
  • Use personal injury protection to pay initial bills (if you have the coverage), then use health insurance. Retain and obtain copies of all records and bills.
  • Do not give a recorded statement to the other person’s insurance.
  • File your claim within the statute of limitations (varies by state and claim type).
  • Avoid sharing about your accident on social media. This could be used out of context and damage your case or minimize injuries.
  • Estimate your damages.
  • Send your demand letter.
  • Counter or accept a settlement.

*This checklist does not constitute legal advice and serves only as a sample list of items needed for settlement negotiation in common mild injury cases.

3 Ways You Benefit from Hiring an Attorney

  1. You hand over the work to the professionals.

A well-run legal firm will streamline your case for maximum efficiency. No missed deadlines. No forms to file. No need to write demand or response letters. No need to deal with the run around from the other side.

  1. You have someone on your side.

Hiring an attorney ensures sound legal advice at a time when emotions may run high. You should be able to trust your lawyer to act in your best interest.

  1. You are more likely to receive a higher settlement.

An average person receives a settlement three and a half times larger with legal assistance than without it. For example, an insurance company is willing to pay an unrepresented plaintiff $7,000. But a person represented by a lawyer who suffered the same injuries would have received nearly $25,000. This equated to an extra $18,000 to the injured person, even after attorney’s fees were paid.

doctor visit

Hiring an attorney helps ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation for your damages and injuries, often translating into an expedited healing and recovery process.

Because of this, personal injury firms have seen a significant and steady increase in the number of people enlisting the help of a lawyer to handle their claims over the last ten years (IRC).

What an Attorney Can Do For You

A personal injury or car accident attorney will do the following for you:

  • File a claim and/or lawsuit on your behalf
  • Collect evidence to build your case, including witness statements, photographs
  • Obtain the help of field experts and investigators to analyze evidence
  • Ensure you do not miss time sensitive deadlines and are within the statute of limitations
  • Negotiate a settlement with the driver at fault and field all calls from their insurance company
  • Advise medical treatment, including referring you to specialists and reputable care to help you recover from your injuries
  • Explain complex legal matters and keep you informed of the details of your case
  • Some firms front the cost of all materials and services necessary to prove your case
  • Be a source of reassurance and confidence. It’s okay to have questions; your attorney has answers.

Contact the Experienced Attorneys at The Flood Law Firm

connecticuts auto accident attorneysWhen you are ready to get the help of an experienced car accident attorney, The Flood Law Firm is ready for your call. From your first consultation to your case resolution, we make the process as simple as possible so that you may focus on your loved ones and recovery.

Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing out of pocket and we only receive compensation if you do. Your consultation is free, private and without obligation. Even if you are not sure you want to pursue legal action, we are happy to answer your questions and help you determine your next steps.

Fill out the contact form or call us today at (877) 987-9LAW and learn more about how we can help.

 

About 

Founded by brothers Brian and Christopher Flood, The Flood Law Firm is dedicated to helping those who have been injured. Learn more about our firm here.

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