The Risks Involved In Representing Yourself

by Personal Injury Claims Blawg on March 28, 2013

Post highlighting some of the downsides or risks involved in representing yourself, particularly in personal injury actions.

Contrary to the image portrayed in some parts of the media, launching a claim for compensation following a personal injury is not course of action which the vast majority of people embark upon casually or with a great deal of enthusiasm. On the contrary, people often shy away from embarking upon legal action of this kind until it becomes clear that it’s something which simply has to be done. Rather than, as is often implied, being a get rich quick scheme or a chance to cash in on an accident, claiming compensation is, quite simply, the best and most effective way of getting your life back on track, and people often hesitate until it becomes clear that, to choose one example, their future earning power has been greatly diminished.

One of the factors which discourages people from making a claim for compensation is, quite simply, a fear of the law. The average person tends to find the idea of a courtroom and the legalese spoken in such places more than a little daunting. Even when realising that a large percentage of compensation claims are actually settled before going to court, most people still harbour a fearful distrust of the legal trade. Years of Hollywood movies and tabloid scare stories have created the impression that lawyers are little more than sharks, looking for the next victim to fleece and really only concerned with the bottom line as far as they personally are concerned.

The truth, of course, is that the vast majority of personal injury lawyers are dedicated professionals determined to get the best possible deal for their clients. A few bad apples give the whole profession a bad name, of course, and if the lawyers you approach claim to be able to guarantee success or make outlandish predictions of the amount of money you’re ‘definitely’ going to receive, then they’re really not the right kind of people to work with.

All of this adds up to a feeling, in the minds of some people who’ve suffered personal injury, that they would be better off representing themselves. Whilst this may, at first glance, seem to be the simple way of approaching things, the truth can be more complicated. The average person has little if any experience of the law and may not realise that making a claim can take many months and require research into specialist areas. The claimant has to ask themselves if they can do all of this at the same time as running the rest of their life including, in all probability, earning a living. If they can’t dedicate the time needed, then the chances are that the case won’t be as strong as possible, and it must be remembered that the other side is going to be represented by seasoned professionals. This brings us to the second aspect of self-management, which is knowing when you’ve been offered a good deal. Many insurers try to minimise costs by offering a payment prior to a court case – make no mistake, it’s in their interests to offer the least they think they can get away with. A claimant lacking the knowledge and experience built up from years of fighting cases such as this may make the mistake of accepting a payment which is far below that which they deserve. Not only that, but the expenses incurred in mounting a claim can be huge and can greatly eat away at any money awarded. Things such as medical records and expert witnesses will have to be paid for, as will the costs of the other side if you end up losing your case. There are many horror stories of people who’ve launched legal proceedings only to find costs spiralling out of control to a disastrous degree.

Bearing all of this in mind it can be seen that representing yourself, even if you feel your case is cut and dry, is not the simple approach it may at first appear to be. An expert personal injuries lawyer will have seen, done and asked it all before, and will be able to answer any questions and build the strongest possible case. In many cases, including road accidents, medical negligence and accidents at work, Claims 4 Negligence can help victims with their claim and get them any compensation they are owed.

Personal Injury Claims Blawg

Personal Injury Claims Blawg

PI claims blogger at PIClaimsBlawg
Personal Injury Claims Blawg is a personal injury law blog, inviting contributions from practitioners, PI law firms and legal academics across the UK, US and beyond. The post above has been published because of the high value associated with the author's work. Contact us if you'd like to get published today.

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