By Pauline Nassif, Civil Litigation Paralegal
Often times the idea of representing yourself in a personal injury case, also know legally as proceeding pro se, seems to be a good idea. One might think well, how difficult can it be? The short answer to that question is VERY.
Although in any legal proceeding you have the right to act as your own attorney, it is not always the smart choice. Hiring a personal injury attorney ensures that you are enlisting the help of a professional who is a qualified expert with more experience and a solid foundation in personal injury law.
Here are a few important factors to consider when making the decision to hire a personal injury lawyer who can do what you probably can't:
Attorneys Know What You Need to Prove in Court
You may feel that you have all the necessary information you need to win your case since you are the person who was injured and have a first hand accounting of the injury. However there is much more to a personal injury case than just proving you were hurt. For example, a personal injury attorney will be able to locate and call an expert witness to testify to prove that the Defendant who hurt you was acting unreasonably. There are also particular rules about hearsay and what types of evidence a court can even consider.
Attorneys Can Negotiate a Fair Settlement
A personal injury attorney, and especially an experienced one, can minimize the amount of time and expense of a trial by negotiating an out-of-court settlement. A good attorney will take into consideration several factors before entering settlement negotiations such as your chances of winning at trial, trends in verdicts and settlements of cases similar to yours and possible weaknesses in evidence of both parties. An experienced personal injury attorney can quickly gather and disseminate this information and deal with the other party accordingly. This will save you from having to deal with paperwork, leg work and continued communications with attorneys and insurers.
Attorneys are Able to Meet Important Deadlines
Attorneys are adept in the code of civil procedure that governs civil litigation such as personal injury cases. Civil procedure includes deadlines for EVERYTHING including statute of limitations, service process of complaints and the filing and answering of legal pleadings. Failure to file a complaint within the statute of limitations in your jurisdiction may result in the case being dismissed.
If your biggest concern in hiring a lawyer is cost, bear in mind that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and offer free initial consultations. This means that the attorney will only get paid if you do. Make the smart choice and hire an experienced personal injury attorney; you will be glad you did!