You’ve recently been involved in an accident with a semi-truck in which you sustained serious injuries. As a result, you’ve had to call out from work, visit several doctors and specialists, cover your out of pocket expenses for treatments, medical devices, and prescriptions, and somehow, still manage to pay the monthly bills. You’re stressed to the max, your bank account is about drained, and to top it all off, this wasn’t even your fault.
After incurring all these additional costs and having to make a bunch of lifestyle changes, you’re physically, emotionally, and financially tapped out. It’s been brought to your attention that you could file a personal injury lawsuit against the guilty party. You want to hire an attorney but one more expense would cripple your way of life. So, you decide to represent yourself. After all, you’re the victim here. Right?
Complexities of Self-Representation
There are some cases that you may be able to get away with representing yourself, however, when it comes to a truck accident with a major corporation backing the other party, going up against them on your own could prove disastrous. Here’s a more detailed look at why representing yourself in a personal injury case isn’t an ideal solution:
Understanding of the Law
Unless you happen to be a lawyer yourself, chances are you don’t have much knowledge about the legal system and processes involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit. Lack of knowledge can cause you to miss important steps, get less than you deserve, and even cost you your case.
Valuation of Your Case
You may have an idea of how much money you’d like to receive for the changes to your life as a result of the accident, but do you know how much you’re entitled to? Going it alone could cause you to under or over value your case causing you to accept way less than you deserve or having your claim rejected for an outrageous ask.
Tons of Paperwork
One of the first reasons you shouldn’t represent yourself in a personal injury lawsuit is because there’s a lot of paperwork involved. Understanding and completing all of this information, along with finding the money for filing fees can be a lot to deal with when you’re trying to recover.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
During the negotiation process for a possible settlement offer, you’ll be required to speak with the insurance company (and possibly their lawyers). While you may very well be the innocent party, it is the job of the insurance companies to settle for as little as they can. If you’re not even sure of how much your case is worth, this could leave you vulnerable to accepting a low-ball offer. Not to mention, insurance adjusters and attorneys are well-versed in the law and will use legal jargon, laws, and other supporting evidence to prove why your claim should be rejected and/or why your offer should be a certain amount.
Personal injury attorneys have resources like private investigators to help them gather evidence and other pertinent information as it relates to your truck accident case. If you decide to represent yourself, you’ll have to do all the leg work yourself. Meaning you’ll need to track down witnesses, revisit the scene of the accident, talk with local authorities, take photos, and secure any information to prove your innocence. This will require a great deal of time, money, and physical energy which you likely don’t have.
Proving Your Case
To you, it’s pretty clear who the guilty party was. Proving this to a judge, however, is another story. In civil cases, the burden of proof falls on you. Meaning you are required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the truck driver that was at-fault. You will also have to prove this with the whole force of the insurance company fighting your argument at every turn.
When you’ve been involved in a serious truck accident, you may believe that your only option is to represent yourself to avoid going bankrupt. As you can see from above, to do so effectively you need extensive knowledge, resources, time, money, and energy. That’s why it is best to allow a personal injury attorney to take the load off your plate. The best part is, since most of them work on a contingency fee, you won’t owe a cent unless you win.