There’s the old Lincoln adage , “he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” I find this quote to be very meaningful. It took me four years of college and three years of law school to get my law degree, and that was just the beginning. It is not until you start practicing law that you fully understand. As they say, it takes 10,000 hours to be good at anything. So, handling your own case most of the time is a bad idea. However, there are certain times where I actually advise people that they can handle their accident case on their own. Here are a few examples:
No One was Injured
Driving down Interstate 95, you will see a plethora of attorney billboards pleading with you to let them handle your accident case, and therefore many people’s first reaction when an accident happened is – I must call a lawyer! But, what those billboards don’t tell you is that they have no interest in your case unless you are injured. The truth is that a strictly property damage case is pretty straightforward. If someone rear ends you and there is no issue of liability, you can simply make a call to the other party’s insurance and more than likely you can handle the repairs yourself. You can even bypass this headache if you call your own insurance, if you have collision coverage, and have your insurance take care of your car repairs and seek your deductible from the other person’s insurance company.
On the contrary, you might want to consult an attorney for a “pure” property damage case if you have a new car. When you have a new car or shortly thereafter, and you get into an accident, your car’s value diminishes significantly. Most insurance companies do not want to pay your diminished value claim. Hiring an experienced attorney could help you with that.
Your bills exceed the other persons policy limits
Another time where it is conceivable to handle your own case without an attorney is when your medical bills exceed the other persons policy limits. To fully understand what I’m talking about, you should download my book, “What the Heck is my personal injury case worth?” In short, if the person who hit you is driving a “beat up” vehicle with the lowest limits of coverage, $10,000.00, and your hospital bills exceed that amount, you could make a demand for the policy limits directly from the insurance company. If there are no liability issues, they should pay your demand immediately. You wouldn’t want to get an attorney involved to take potentially a third of the policy limits because your bills are still going to exceed what is left over.
However, there are times when it may be beneficial to hire an attorney in the above circumstance. An attorney could look for other avenues to get you additional coverage. They can negotiate your bills down at the hospital. They can also take the stress and headache of you having to deal with the insurance company.
While I have provided two examples of when you may not need an attorney, you can see even with these scenarios that having an experienced attorney on your side may still be most advantageous.