Top Three Most Common Mistakes Made When Not Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer.
We’ve all seen internet-based or software-based platforms like TurboTax or Web MD, or any other of a myriad of self-help computer generated products.
The arena of legal services has seen similar profusion of products on the market for years as well. The essential problem in all of these products is the same.The individual who relies on internet advice to make a diagnosis of his or her symptoms is taking a serious risk with their health. There is little doubt that Google has made us all smarter. No one seriously questions that the internet is a vast repository of information- some good, some bad. It is beyond dispute that that information is much more readily accessible than at any time in history. Just like finding information about a particular medical condition might be helpful, finding information about the law, or a particular case, might be enlightening.
However, the individual who relies on some computer-generated or downloaded-for-free-from-the-internet program, or gleans some information from a few chat rooms, or who peruses a self-help articles or reads a few online statutes is taking a serious risk with their legal matter.
Having a basic understanding of how the law works doesn’t necessarily allow one to put that understanding into practice.
Perhaps one of the more common mistakes that I Attorney Eric T. Kirk have run across is something that is, when distilled to its basic essence, counter-intuitive. One may be inclined to think that a common mistake made when not hiring a personal injury attorney to handle a claim is that the unrepresented person doesn’t attach full value to their injury claim. That certainly happens. When it does, the person has failed to fully appreciate the legal ramifications of their claim and obtain full value, and has obviously gotten less compensation than the law allows.
What I’ve seen, although perhaps not as commonly, is the unrepresented person who attaches too great a significance or value to their claim.
At first glance, this might not seem to be a dangerous position. Someone who believes their case is worth a great deal would seem to be protected by putting that case before a jury or judge and seeking the full measure of compensation to which they believe they are entitled. What happens, though, in many of these instances, is that a reasonable settlement offer is made, and declined. When that case then proceeds to trial in a conservative jurisdiction, or in front of the judge not inclined to hand out handsome awards to personal injury Plaintiffs, that unrepresented Plaintiff stands the risk of being disappointed. Perhaps grievously so.Where the amount ultimately obtained in court is less than the last settlement offer made, that unrepresented Plaintiff is going be very disappointed indeed.
That is not to say that undervaluing a personal injury case is not a problem. It is. Many states have adopted offers of judgment or a similar methodology. These mechanisms provide that where a reasonable settlement offer is rejected, and the ultimate result in court is less than the offer by a statutory percentage, then the Plaintiff who rejected the offer must pay attorneys fees and costs to the defense. These are powerful tort reform measures that essentially preclude the trial of many personal injury cases. Now, Maryland has not yet adopted an offer of judgment provision. The danger inherent in overvaluing a case remain, though. I’ve stated in other articles that I believe attaching appropriate value to a personal injury case is perhaps the second most important role of an attorney.
The most important is actually achieving designated level of compensation for the client.
The danger present in undervaluing the case is leaving money on the table at settlement. While the mechanism is different, the danger inherent in overvaluing the case is effectively the same- leaving money on the settlement table, if a lesser amount is ultimately achieved after trial.