Why You Should Never Represent Yourself in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
You may have heard the term, “pro se.” This term just means “for self.” In the legal world, a pro se litigant is someone who represents himself in a litigated case. This means drafting and filing documents and appearing in court without the benefit of an attorney. There are times when this is perfectly acceptable and times when it is not advisable.
When can I consider representing myself?
Individuals often represent themselves in small claims actions, especially those where the amount in question is $5,000 or less. In fact, some states actually do not permit small claims litigants to hire an attorney. Likewise, while not advisable, many people find online companies that offer very simple wills and powers of attorney for a fee. These templates are generally based on a statutory short form – or standardized form – that has been predetermined by the legislature. These may be relatively straightforward times when representing yourself may not be terribly dangerous. However, for larger or more complex cases, you should absolutely retain experienced counsel.
What are some reasons to hire a personal injury lawyer?
When you are seriously injured by someone else’s negligence, you have several options. First, you can do nothing. This is a mistake, but it is exactly what the insurance company wants. Second, you can try to work it out directly with the insurance company or the other party. However, insurance companies know that the average citizen does not have the resources or knowledge of the legal system to protect their interests. Furthermore, lawsuits are expensive, time consuming and emotionally exhausting. Ultimately, being compensated depends on leverage. But where do you, an everyday citizen, get the leverage to force an insurance company to pay? Here are a few of the obstacles that stand in your way.
Lawsuits are very expensive. When people think of court costs, they mostly think of filing fees. Filing fees for a civil action can exceed $500. But this is not the end. When a lawsuit is filed, it must be served on the opposing party. This is generally accomplished by paying either the Sheriff’s Department or a process server to personally hand the documents to the defendants. Then there is the cost of paying for medical records, paying experts for consulting and testimony, and court reporters to attend depositions. The list goes on. When you hire a personal injury attorney, your attorney should advance those costs. Therefore, there is no cost to you for pursuing your case. Insurance companies know that many people do not have the funds to fight for years and expend thousands upfront.
Lawsuits take time. Many automobile accident cases take upwards of two to three years to resolve. While most cases settle, insurance companies are less likely to settle if they know that you are not represented by a lawyer. Their strategy is simple: wait you out until you desperately take whatever they offer.
- Insider Knowledge
When it comes to the legal system, there are numerous technical and largely hidden rules. Make a critical mistake in just one simple way, and your case is over. For instance, if you do not fully understand an exception to a statute of limitations, you lose your right to even bring your case. Make a critical error in your initial complaint and you could face an early dismissal.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to consider hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer and not represent yourself. If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact a Tampa injury lawyer at the Romero Law Firm who knows the rules and knows how to fight back against shameful insurance company tactics.