Posted in Personal Injury on April 16, 2019
Although difficult, it is possible to file a personal injury claim without the assistance of an injury attorney. However, this is only advisable for very straightforward claims or for plaintiffs who have the time, energy, and resources to manage self-representation effectively. The first step in handling your own personal injury claim is determining whether self-representation is the right choice for your situation.
When to Represent Yourself in Arizona
Generally, handling a personal injury claim yourself is a wise choice when the claim is relatively small and when a fault is absolutely clear. An attorney may be able to help you navigate a complex claim, a claim with a very high monetary value, or a claim against a large corporation. The cost of legal fees reflects the amount of time and energy an attorney must put into a case to succeed, but many attorneys do not adjust their rates relative to the apparent ease of a case.
It is not uncommon for plaintiffs to agree to representation in simple cases only for their lawyers to take sizeable chunks of their case awards or settlements after putting minimal effort into handling the case. Every potential plaintiff should ask a few important questions about their cases when deciding whether to hire lawyers.
- If fault for your personal injury is totally clear or you have easy access to evidence that proves fault for your claim, you may be able to self-represent.
- If the total claim value of your case is only a few hundred or few thousand dollars, it is likely you could handle it on your own and spare yourself giving a large fraction of your award to an attorney.
- If you do not have a firm grasp of the total claim value of your case, an attorney can help you determine available avenues of communication.
The main benefit of self-representation is sparing yourself the expense of attorneys’ fees. Anyone who does not feel confident about self-representation may want to hire an attorney simply for peace of mind knowing the case is in capable hands. Not every personal injury claimant will have the option of self-representation, especially those who sustain severe and/or debilitating injuries. Plaintiffs in cases such as these generally benefit more by hiring attorneys, and the higher monetary values of their claims mean legal fees are less of a hurdle.
Tips for Self-Representation
The court system is undeniably complex, even for seemingly minor matters. If you plan to represent your own interests in a personal injury claim the first step is to determine your filing deadlines and other court-level requirements.
For example, you must assess the statute of limitations for your claim and ensure your lawsuit meets the applicable statute. You must also determine the proper filing procedure for the courthouse in which you plan to pursue your case. Missing a filing deadline or submitting incomplete or inaccurate documents with the court can not only jeopardize your case but also potentially lead to legal penalties.
Some personal injury claims may end with insurance settlements. Although most people dread having to deal with insurance claims adjusters, the process is more straightforward than many realize as long as they take the time to carefully review their policies and draft strong demand letters for coverage.
Although insurance companies are less likely to push back against a claim backed by an attorney, many people manage to secure insurance claims with minimal legal assistance. However, if a claims adjuster denies or unreasonably delays your claim, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney.
Ultimately, most personal injury claims settle outside of court. If the fault is clear, it is very possible for the defendant in a personal injury claim simply wants the issue to go away as quickly as possible and will be willing to negotiate a fair settlement. Handling your own personal injury case is not easy, even under seemingly ideal circumstances, and a small mistake could potentially jeopardize your recovery. However, successfully handling your own personal injury claim will mean saving a significant sum in legal fees, increasing your overall recovery.