It’s normal to have what may seem like an endless number of questions after you have found yourself the victim in a personal injury accident. One of the first, and most important, questions that most people ask is whether or not they need to hire an attorney to represent them in the accident. Despite what many people think, there is never an absolute requirement to hire an attorney. In fact, in some cases an attorney may not be necessary. Each personal injury accident is different and each victim unique. Therefore it is impossible to make a hard and fast rule about when you should hire an attorney. According to California personal injury attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates, there are a number of questions you can ask yourself to help you make the decision.
1. Is negligence clear? Negligence is the legal term used to refer to fault or blame. You should ask yourself whether it is clear – to BOTH sides – who was at fault in the accident. Establishing negligence is the first step in a personal injury accident case. If you cannot establish that the defendant was negligent then you have no case. You may think the defendant was negligent but the important question is does HE agree and even more importantly does his INSURANCE COMPANY agree. If there is any doubt at all regarding negligence then retaining the help of an attorney may be in your best interest.
2. Are your total damages less than the monetary limit for small claims court? In California, the limit for small claims court is $7500. If you are seeking compensation for injuries that total more than $7500 you will have to file in a regular Superior Court. Small Claims courts are much less formal than Superior Court. They often provide forms for the plaintiff as well as instructions for how to file your case and how to proceed through the legal system. In some cases, attorneys are not even allowed to represent clients in small claims court. On the other hand, Superior Courts are more formal and the plaintiff is expected to understand and follow the rules of procedure. There may not be any instructions or forms to use. Therefore, if your damages exceed the amount allowed in small claims court, you may wish to consider hiring an attorney in the event your case ends up going to trial.
3. How valuable is your time? That old saying “time is money” has been around forever for a reason. Resolving even a minor personal injury case can take a substantial amount of time. The more complicated the case – the more time it will take to resolve. Even if you are perfectly capable of resolving the case without the help of any attorney, you may decide that your time is better spent making money then arguing with an insurance adjuster. While it’s true that you will share a percentage of the compensation with the attorney , studies show that personal injury settlement are generally significantly higher when an attorney represents the plaintiff.
If you have been the victim of a California personal injury accident and you are considering retaining an attorney to represent you, please contact Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates at1-800-300-0001 or visit his website at www.ledgerlaw.com.