Jun 27

Why do I need an Attorney? Can’t I just represent myself?

From time to time, I will have potential clients ask me why they need me, an attorney, to represent them in their personal injury or car accident case. “Can’t I just handle it myself?” is a popular question. And “What can you do that I can’t do for myself?” is another one. Here is the response that I give to these individuals:

Most of these skeptical clients are in the “pre-suit” stage of litigation. This means that they have been negotiating with the insurance adjuster for the negligent driver and they haven’t had to file a complaint in court yet. More times than not, I get inquiries from new clients who have been trying to negotiate directly with the adjuster, and have grown frustrated with the amount of money (or lack of money) that the adjuster is willing to pay toward their claim. Other clients think they have received a fair offer, but feel unsure about accepting it. The question I get at this stage is “How are you going to make a difference? What can you do that I am not already doing?” For me, the answer is simple: I can try your case before a jury of your peers.

The threat of a jury trial by a competent personal injury attorney is an incredible motivator for the insurance companies to settle. I have developed my trial skills by attending three years of law school, attending hours of continuing legal education on the Illinois Supreme Court Rules, Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, Illinois Rules of Evidence and Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions. I also have nearly a decade of actual experience trying cases in Illinois and federal courts. In other words, if the insurance adjuster won’t make an offer on my client’s claim that is fair and reasonable, I can take the case to trial and try to get my client the result they deserve. So to my skeptical clients, I ask, “Can you do that?”

Most of the skeptics will admittedly answer “No.” I then proceed to ask these potential clients if they know how to resolve a lien. I ask them if they know how to deal with the subrogation claims against their personal injury lawsuit. I ask them if they know what the fair value of pain and suffering is in the jurisdiction in which they will need to file suit. Do they know how long they have to file a claim? I ask them if they know what the limits are on the opposing party’s insurance policy, etc. etc. Typically, the answers are always “No,” “No,” and of course, “No.”

I equate people who represent themselves in their personal injury claims on the same level as people who try to self-diagnose themselves using the internet. Not a good choice. Mainly because these clients lack (1) the ability to push the file successfully to a trial (if needed) and (2) they are not familiar with all of the hidden landmines that accompany an injury lawsuit.

If you have been representing yourself in your injury claim, now might be a good time to contact the Illinois personal injury attorneys of The Law Offices Of Vincent C. Argento to discuss your case. The consultation on your claim is always free. We can be reached at (847) 628-8305 or at vince@argentolaw.com.