After an accident, it's hard to know what legal options are available to you. You do have the right to represent yourself if you so choose. In most cases, it is possible to represent yourself in a personal injury claim except for these specific instances:
- Representing your child
- Suing on behalf of a company
- When filing a class-action lawsuit
Even when you have access to a personal injury lawyer, the commitment required to work with a lawyer can seem overwhelming. It is not unusual to consider representing yourself instead of hiring a personal injury lawyer for your case; but there are several factors you should consider before choosing to represent yourself in a personal injury claim.
Do You Understand the Basics of a Personal Injury Claim?
Since most likely you are not a lawyer or been in multiple accidents before, you will need to be sure you know your rights before filing a personal injury claim. Another important factor to consider before choosing to represent yourself is determining liability, a personal injury case may look like a straightforward process, but that's not always the case.
If you think you have a personal injury claim due to an accident, you may want to check with an expert on the strict procedures involved in filing one. Do you know what compensation you could be eligible for? If you suffered injuries in one of the following ways, you may be able to get compensation for your pain and suffering:
- Sustained injuries after an irresponsible party caused an avoidable accident
- Sustained injuries after battery or assault, even if the liable party did not intend any harm
- An accident due to your employer's negligence or a manufacturers flaw in product design
Remember that opting to represent yourself in a personal injury claim means you have to bear the burden of collecting the required evidence to prove that the other party is at fault and responsible for your injuries. For instance, in a truck accident, the apparent liable party is the driver. But, if you cannot prove the driver's liability for the accident by intoxication, speeding, or another form of road irresponsibility, then you may not have a case.
Additionally, in any accident, you have to consider that there may be several liable parties. In an accident with multiple liable parties, you have to gather and present evidence proving each party's liability and to what extent they are at fault.
Do You Know the Filing Deadline for Your Personal Injury Claim?
If you are still thinking of representing yourself in a personal injury claim, make sure you pay attention to all the deadlines for filing your claim. Personal injury claims have different deadlines depending on the type of accident and the seriousness of the resulting injuries.
Even though most states have a timeline of one to four years to file personal injury claims, most have a two-year deadline on medical malpractice and wrongful death cases. If you miss a deadline in your case or the statute of limitations has passed, it could lead to the dismissal of your case. After a claim has been dismissed you might not have any other means to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Representing Yourself Can be Risky
As earlier mentioned, you have the right to represent yourself in a personal injury claim. Although, before you settle on self-representation, you should weigh the risks versus the rewards of doing so. You can always enlist the services of a personal injury lawyer even if you started the process alone, but waiting could change the outcome you were hoping for.
Listed below are some of the risks to assess before choosing to represent yourself in a personal injury claim.
Lack of Proper Evidence
Evidence is the backbone of every personal injury claim. Without the experience to gather all the relevant information pointing to the other party's responsibility for the accident, you will not win the lawsuit. Remember producing evidence is not all that matters. You must show how the evidence specifically implicates the liable party.
Inaccurate Calculation of Damages
To seek compensation for injuries, you must first calculate how much your damages are worth. If an accident results in permanent disability, you should factor in the cost of lost wages and loss of future earning capability.
Without expertise in this area, you might unknowingly exaggerate or underestimate the proper compensation amount. Additionally, you may not have the skills to calculate the worth of non-economic damages such as pain and suffering like a personal injury lawyer would.
Lack of Proper Negotiation Skills
Negotiating a personal injury claim is not easy, but because a personal injury lawyer has experience dealing with similar claims and knows its worth, they will be able to help you go after the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Without the same skills as a lawyer, the insurance companies and the liable parties may exploit your inexperience by offering compensation that is much less than you deserve.
Contact the Dolman Law Group
After considering all the risks of representing yourself in a personal injury claim, you may decide to work with a personal injury lawyer. Just because you can represent yourself does not mean you should. Contact the Dolman Law Group today to learn what legal options you have for your personal injury claim.