Before choosing to represent yourself in a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts, ask yourself three simple questions:
- From whom would you rather receive a hip replacement surgery?
- the average person, or an
- experienced surgeon
- Who would you rather build your house?
- an average person, or
- a skilled contractor
- Who would you choose to fly you from Boston to Orlando?
- The average person, or
- a licensed commercial pilot
Your answer to each of the above questions should be “b.” If those were your answers, give yourself an “A”!
The lesson to be learned from taking this quiz is: professionals are hired to do a job because they have received the training and experience to get the job done properly. It would be unwise, for example, to have a friend, untrained in the medical field, attempt to perform your hip replacement surgery. The same is true for having your house built or taking a 2000 mile flight. Trusting someone without the required skill set, education and experience would be ill-advised, to say the least.
So, what then, makes the legal profession any different? The simple answer is that, aside from the skill set required to be an effective lawyer, it isn’t. Like a doctor, a builder or a pilot, a lawyer has received nuanced training in his/her field, and knows how to skillfully navigate the many problems that may arise. Your lawyer should be a highly intelligent person who is specially equipped to deal with your legal needs, varied and complex as they may be.
The skill set for a lawyer is also unique. He/she must be able to think creatively, speak eloquently and write persuasively. Very few professions require the same degree of dedication and work ethic that arises in the legal field. In order to become a practicing attorney, a person must endure years of rigorous education and testing before becoming practice-ready. An expert lawyer must also have tried many cases and settled many cases out of court.
In spite of the years of preparation and experience that lawyers accrue, many people who are in need of their services choose other ways to satisfy their own legal needs. In personal injury claims, some people choose to represent themselves, rather than take advantage of the valuable resources at their disposal, namely an expert Massachusetts personal injury attorney. The decision to pursue a legal action pro se, namely without an attorney, is a person’s right. This is an individual’s choice, but it is a reckless one. It is like choosing to fly a commercial jet yourself, instead of hiring a licensed pilot—the results can be disastrous.
Many people, in choosing to represent themselves, do not realize the serious consequences that could come as a result of their decision. Not only do attorneys know the law better than the average person, but they are acutely aware of the subtleties of pursuing a personal injury claim. To begin with, people mistakenly believe that the time it takes to settle a claim or reach a verdict at trial is very short. In truth, it could take years to reach the end of a personal injury lawsuit. Such a prolonged legal “battle” requires endurance, experience and resources. Needless to say, pro se litigants rarely have any of these talents at their disposal. Personal injury lawyer specialists, on the other hand, are specifically equipped to handle such obstacles.
In many personal injury lawsuits, insurance companies become a key part of the settlement negotiation on behalf of the defendant. These are particularly difficult scenarios to successfully handle if you are unaided by a knowledgeable and confident attorney. Insurance companies, in most cases, are large corporations that are driven primarily by the profit motive. As a result, some insurance companies will try to pay the absolute bare minimum in settlements and other payments to injured persons, especially to pro se litigants who are likely unaware of what their cases are actually worth. Those who choose not to retain a competent lawyer thereby run the risk of settling their cases for only a fraction of their actual worth.
Sadly, in the worst personal injury cases, such as the wrongful death of a family member, fair value of the case will usually far outweigh the meager settlement award made by an insurance company to an unrepresented claimant.
With an expert personal injury attorney, however, the intimidation factor is eliminated from the settlement equation. Lawyers know how damages are calculated, and will fight tooth and nail to see that his/her client receives every penny that they are entitled to.
In the end, the apprehension regarding hiring a lawyer may be a fear that paying him/her will be extremely costly. But that is not the case. The truth is that the best attorneys generally work on a contingent fee basis. In other words, a lawyer is not paid for the work performed until the case reaches a positive result for his/her client. Until a settlement is reached, or a damage award is issued by a civil court, the attorney receives nothing. This system is transparent, and allows for the greatest possible profit for personal injury plaintiffs. Lawyers typically receive a 1/3 share of the settlement or damage award, which means that retaining a legal professional is actually cheaper than representing yourself.
If you believe you have a legitimate personal injury claim, and you are seeking justice, please do not hesitate to contact our highly experienced team of Massachusetts attorneys at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates. We have been representing the people of the Commonwealth for over two decades and will work strenuously to see that all your legal needs are provided for. Please call us, 24/7, at 617-787-3700, or email us at email@example.com. Your needs are our top priority!