Should You Represent Yourself in Court?

September 24, 2017 by admin Personal Injury 

Should You Represent Yourself in Court?

Persona Injury Attorney Niles
Injury attorney in Niles

If you are searching for an injury attorney in Niles, call our office at 847-305-4105. We are a local Northbrook based personal injury law firm. We offer free consultations and can even come to your home to meet with you.

Thinking about representing yourself?

There has been a significant rise in the number of “pro-se” plaintiffs – people who represent themselves in court or against insurance companies. So much so that the Illinois State Bar Association just released an article about it in the October 2017, edition of the Illinois Bar Journal.

And on the Illinois Courts website, there is a section called “Access to Justice” dedicated to the pro-se plaintiff. On it you can find access to standardized forms for use in court and many of the forms are translated into Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Korean.

That does not mean the courts view pro se claimants favorably. Judge Richard Posner recently retired from the bench. One of his reasons for retiring was that his efforts to help pro-se plaintiffs put him at odds with his colleagues. Posner was quoted as saying “The basic thing is that most judges regard these people as kind of trash not worth the time of a federal judge.” That’s a very odd comment and hopefully not an accurate portrayal of federal judges’ opinions of people who represent themselves.

Why is it happening?

What has fueled the rise of people representing themselves in legal matters? According to the Bar, it is primarily financially-related. People cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent them. I agree that this is one factor. Our office has received countless calls from people who are defendants in actions and cannot afford to spend the $300 or more per hour to hire an attorney to defend themselves.

The other side of the financial coin however, is that lawyers are turning away cases more now than before. We receive calls from all over the place from people who were injured. Many of the calls are medical malpractice cases from Wisconsin. Wisconsin has caps on how much an injured person can recover. As such, most lawyers we deal with won’t even talk to a Wisconsin medical malpractice victim unless the malpractice resulted in a catastrophic injury or death.

The situation is similar regarding auto accidents. It is harder and harder to get money out of an insurance company for “soft-tissue” injuries such as sprains and strains. They simply are not paying anymore. Most lawyers are not going to file a lawsuit for these types of injuries as the cost of doing so is too high. As such, many lawyers I talk to are turning away these types of cases, which results in victims having to fight the insurance company on their own.

The result of people representing themselves is that they get taken advantage of. Insurance companies are playing a different game than the victims filing claims against them. They have the know how and the resources to defend their insureds to the end if need be. Most claimants (and many attorneys) simply cannot afford to fight an insurance company for long. Consequently, people make mistakes such as giving a recorded statement to the insurance company immediately after the collision.

Our Office Accepts Soft Tissue Cases

Our office still takes many soft tissue cases. As such, if you want to speak with an injury attorney in Niles, call me at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.  In a personal injury case, you do not pay your attorney an hourly rate. Rather personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.

If you can find an attorney to work on your case, we strongly recommend that you do so. When you first get injured, the insurance adjuster will work with you. He or she will be nice and let you know that you will be compensated for your injuries. However, when it’s time to settle, I assure you, they will “low-ball” you. It is their goal to pay as little as they can for your claim.

In almost all situations, you will recover more if you have an attorney represent you against an insurance company than if you represent yourself.

The Internet

I think that another reason people are representing themselves is because of the abundance of information you can find on the internet. There are thousands of websites dedicated to providing legal information including www.findlaw.com, www.lawyers.com, www.avvo.com, and www.youtube.com. These sources are fairly reliable. However, there are thousands of other sources that should not be trusted. You could be following the instructions of a novice who just decided to post legal information.

Another source of information is Illinois Legal Aid.  There you can find countless forms and legal information to guide you through many different legal areas including: divorce, bankruptcy, immigration, criminal law and more.

Unlike many law firms, we are happy to provide you a free consultation to discuss your legal issue. If you need an injury attorney in Niles, feel free to call us at 847-305-4105 and we will try to provide you the best guidance we can.


Disclaimer

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