DO I NEED A LAWYER?

by Brett Cole Peterson on Mar. 27, 2021

Accident & Injury Accident & Injury  Car Accident 

Summary: Helping to decide if a lawyer is needed

My name is Brett, and I’ve been a lawyer practicing in San Diego since 1998.

I’m a solo practitioner (no staff, but a shared receptionist) which means I wear a lot of hats:  lawyer, secretary, accountant and marketer.  And that last one, marketing, isn’t something I’m very good at.  My marketing successes tend to be the result of speaking with people daily, answering their questions the best I can, and following the Golden Rule of treating others how I’d like to be treated.

This blog is an attempt to improve my marketing but do so through my normal activities — ask me a questions and I’ll respond.  Assuming there are no questions (which is a safe bet currently as this is my first post), I’ll just provide some insight that commonly comes up when I’m speaking with potential clients.

I think the most common question I get is “Do I need a lawyer?”  And the answer is “No”.  You never are required to have a lawyer.  Some people represent themselves all the way through trial though they typically make serious mistakes on the way.  The better question is “Should I get a lawyer,” and the answer to that is Maybe.  With the cases I typically handle (mostly personal injury but also some medical malpractice and employment law), the lawyer is paid a contingency fee, meaning a percentage of the recovery.  If you represent yourself as well as I could do and you’ll be much better off without a lawyer as you save the attorneys fees.  If you’re overwhelmed by the process or don’t know if an insurance adjuster is taking advantage of your lack of knowledge, you might be much better off with a lawyer as we can get a substantially better result.  When there are liability disputes, having a lawyer might be a better idea.  When there is scarring or permanent residual injuries, it’s often valuable to retain a lawyer as we have more experience with the proper valuations of those claims.  If your car was rear-ended with minimal damage and you didn’t see a doctor because you didn’t feel injured, the insurance company is going to offer you ~$750 and it’s unlikely a lawyer is going to improve upon that.

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