There is no law in Arizona that requires you to hire an attorney, or that prevents you from representing yourself during a personal injury claim. That being said, self-representation during the claims process is rarely recommended, even if you have legal training. The following lists just a few of the many benefits of hiring an attorney:
- You do not have to pay anything up front. One benefit to filing a personal injury claim is that, when you hire an attorney who works on a contingency fee basis, you do not have to pay anything up front. In fact, even your first consultation is completely free. Throughout the entirety of the process, you will not owe your attorney a penny; payment is not due to your attorney until–and unless–your case is own.
- Your attorney can collect and organize evidence on your behalf. As mentioned above, one of the most important parts of a personal injury claim is the collection of evidence in order to prove the negligence of the at fault party, that the negligence of the at fault party was the cause of your injuries, and that you have actually incurred damages. Unfortunately, collecting evidence on your own is not always easy, especially if your injuries are incapacitating. The collection of evidence in a timely manner is also important. In some cases, collecting evidence the same day, or the same week, that an accident occurs may be vital. If you are in the hospital, doing this on your own may be impossible. Once evidence has been collected, sorting through the evidence to determine which pieces are relevant to your case, and how the evidence can be used to further your cause, also may require the experience of a professional.
- Your attorney has access to resources and experts. Even if you believe that you are capable of representing yourself in a personal injury suit, the truth is, unless you have the experience, the right connections, and the resources (financial and otherwise) to file a successful claim, your chances of winning are slim. When you are pursuing compensation, and when your future is dependent upon your claim being successful, taking large risks is not worth it. Instead, you want someone on your side who knows exactly what it is that he or she is doing. An experienced attorney will not only have plenty of history working with other accident victims and recovering settlements, but will also have access to other people that your claim needs. For example, a team of legal professionals, reconstructive experts, forensic experts, medical experts, automotive experts, and more may all be essential to your claim. Often times, hiring these people involves more than just a connection, but plenty of money as well. If you do not have legal representation, you will have to pay these costs out of pocket.
- Your attorney knows the law. The vast majority of those who are victims of injuries that warrant a personal injury claim have no legal training. Without a thorough understanding of the law and many of the terms discussed above, such as negligence, comparative fault, liability, burden of proof, statute of limitations, etc., filing a claim on your own can not only be confusing, but disastrous. It is extremely important that if you do not have training in the law yourself, you have someone on your side who can guide you through everything you need to know.
- Knowledge of common personal injury mistakes. An attorney who has experience in personal injury law will not only be able to help you with all of the items above, but will also be able to help you avoid the most common personal injury pitfalls. Some common mistakes include failing to notify the policy when an accident happens, failing to seek medical care in a timely manner, failing to follow your doctor’s instructions after an injury, signing forms that you do not understand or that hurt your case, not keeping thorough documentation of your injuries, not collecting the right evidence, posting to social media about your case, and waiting too long to file a claim.
- Your attorney will negotiate for you and provide you with fair representation in court. Finally, having someone that will negotiate for you and provide you with fair representation if your case goes to court is invaluable. You may not know what a fair settlement amount is, what in-court representation looks like, or how to prove that you deserve more money. Your attorney will be able to do all of these things for you, and will be responsible for and committed to advocating for your best interests every step of the way.
Again, you do not have to hire an attorney. However, hiring an attorney is highly recommended. If you are unsure whether or not filing a lawsuit is within your best interest, you should at least schedule a free case consultation to learn more.