Fortune cookie reads, "You would make a good lawyer."

We’ve all watched our fair share of Law and Order episodes on television, so some of us may feel like we’ve learned enough to represent ourselves in court. But this is almost never a good idea, especially in a personal injury claim.

Why not?

You Won’t Save Any Money,
But It Could Cost You

One of the main reasons people think about representing themselves is to avoid paying an attorney’s fee, but as Abraham Lincoln once said, “Anyone who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

If you try to represent yourself, there is a very good chance that your settlement offer will not be as high. Instead, establish a relationship with an attorney you have confidence in and let him do his job.

You Don’t Need to Pay an Accident Attorney Up Front

Most personal injury attorneys offer their services on a contingency basis, meaning they only charge a fee if they are successful and you recover monetary damages. In a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage, usually one-third of the recovery.

If you win, the lawyer’s fee comes out of your award. If you lose, neither you nor your attorney will receive any money, and you will not be required to pay your attorney for his or her work done on the case — although, win or lose, you may be responsible for costs such as filing fees, postage, deposition charges, etc.

You Don’t Know Law As Well As You Think You Do

There are many rules, regulations, and processes involved in court cases, commonly known as civil procedure. Unless you’ve been to law school, learning all of this will make the process very time-consuming for you, but if you don’t take the time to learn it (and as a result, don’t know what you’re doing), you run the risk of severely damaging your case.

So if you decide to represent yourself, be prepared to do a lot of work — it takes lawyers three years to get through law school, plus all the learning they do on the job. Do you really think you can grasp the concepts of personal injury law more quickly than that, if at all?

You’re Playing into the Hands of the Insurance Company

If you choose to represent yourself, you’re doing exactly what the insurance company wants you to do — allow them to pay you less than your claim is worth. It takes an experienced attorney to evaluate a personal injury claim, know what it’s worth, and get the insurance company to treat you fairly.

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