Do I need a lawyer?
Hi. A common question I get is, do I need a lawyer?
When it’s a small case, when there's not a whole lot of property damage to a vehicle and you've been in an accident, maybe you don't need a lawyer.
If you have medium injuries, let's say, you have four to five thousand worth of medical care, and you've been hurting for about six months, but you're over it and you think you're going to be just fine. You've seen a doctor and you know that there's nothing really to be expected, you just, you know are a little unsure. In that kind of case, you probably don't need a lawyer to negotiate on your own with an insurance company.
Now, you've heard of people representing themselves in court, and you've probably heard the expression that the person that represents themselves has a “fool for a client.” And that is sometimes true.
Again, in a smaller case, you could probably do a good job representing yourself. But the bigger the case, the less I would recommend you representing yourself. Especially if the other side, usually the insurance company in a personal injury matter, if they have a lawyer, I would highly recommend you get a lawyer, because you could get, for lack of a better term, eaten alive.
I'll give you just one simple example. Let's say that you wanted to testify on your own behalf. You took the stand, and you were starting to testify. The insurance defense lawyer has to do his job. So, if you try to say something that is inadmissible in court, because of the rules of evidence, the insurance company lawyer is going to stand up and say “Objection Your Honor. This is hearsay.” Just as an example.
And the lawyer that's making the objection knows the rules, and the judge that's presiding is going to know the rules, and they're under no obligation to tell you what the rules are. In fact, they really can't. I mean, the insurance company is not there to represent you. He's only representing his own side. He could easily make objections, stop you from testifying on things that you want to testify about. About the only thing the judge could do is say, “I'm sorry, but that's not admissible. Do you have a response?”
And it could be frustrating for a judge as well because no one wants to sit there as a judge and watch an unrepresented person get “eaten alive” by a defense lawyer. But, on the other hand, it's not the courts job to be your lawyer. It's the courts job, the judge’s job, to be fair and to rule fairly for both sides. So, it wouldn't really be right for the judge to do both her job and your lawyer’s job.
So, the bigger the case, the more I recommend you have a lawyer.