Are you pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against someone? Hopefully, you’re working with an attorney. If you’re considering self-representation, there are a multitude of factors that can make you lose your case.
Having legal representation throughout any lawsuit is ideal, but it’s especially critical during personal injury lawsuits for the following six reasons.
1. You’ll get more compensation
Regardless of the circumstances of your accident, you need an attorney to get the maximum compensation you deserve. A judge won’t automatically grant you a certain amount of compensation based on your injuries – you’ll have to fight and negotiate for every dollar you want.
The problem with representing yourself during negotiations is that you’ll have no way of knowing what your case is actually worth. Looking up settlement amounts online doesn’t count. Every case has different contributing factors and only an experienced attorney will truly know what your case is worth.
Not knowing how much to ask for can make you ask for less than you’re owed, which can make you go into debt with your medical bills. You also won’t have the experience required to know how to negotiate, which means you’re going to leave money on the table.
2. Procedural mistakes can make the judge mad
Some judges are understanding of pro se litigants and won’t get upset when they make mistakes, even though it prolongs the legal process. However, some judges can get testy over mistakes that lawyers would never make. Their time is valuable, they have other cases to handle, and people who represent themselves can slow everything down.
Sometimes judges will help pro se litigants by explaining how to file motions, but not always. Even though it happens sometimes, you can’t count on getting help.
Properly handling motions is important. At the end of the day, those who represent themselves in court usually end up losing their case because they don’t file or don’t respond to motions properly.
To an experienced attorney, filing and responding to motions is old hat. They don’t need to think about it, they’ll just handle them as they arise.
3. You won’t know how to object
Objecting and responding to objections in the courtroom can tank your case if you don’t get it right. Just like motions, objections are also procedural in nature, and you can’t just randomly object to things the other party says.
Hopefully, your case will settle before you go to trial and you won’t need to deal with objections. However, you can’t know for sure how your case will proceed. If you don’t have a lawyer to negotiate a settlement out of court, there’s a chance your case could go to trial. Most of the time, settling is ideal because trials are long, exhausting, and expensive.
4. You won’t know how to present your evidence
The way you present evidence in your case matters. This is yet another procedural issue that pro se litigants often miss. You can’t just present anything you want to present. There are many rules regarding what you can present and how it needs to be presented.
If you don’t follow the rules for evidence, you could accidentally get your key pieces of evidence thrown out during a trial.
5. You need experience to negotiate a settlement
Negotiating a settlement for your injuries takes experience in the courtroom. You not only need to know what your case is worth, but you also need to know how to negotiate.
Haggling for discounts in your personal life won’t help you negotiate in the courtroom. You need more than negotiating skills. Without experience, you risk pushing the other party past their limits and forcing your case to go to trial. A personal injury attorney will know when to stop and accept the current settlement offer.
6. Self-representation is exhausting
Whether your case settles out of court or goes to trial, you’ll be exhausted representing yourself. It’s not as easy as it looks on television. It won’t take long for you to feel overwhelmed by your lack of experience. If your case goes to trial, you’ll be even more overwhelmed.
Don’t go to court without an attorney
Don’t file a personal injury lawsuit without an attorney to fight for you. If you’re trying to save money, consider that a lawyer can help you recover additional funds that will not only cover their fees, but also put extra money in your pocket.