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Unsure If You Need a Lawyer?
There are many situations where hiring an attorney is in your best interests and more often than not, if you’re asking yourself whether you need one, it’s probably best to at least contact one to see if they can help.
There are some situations in which the answer is a resounding “yes”, but it’s often a matter of evaluating several factors, and then there are some situations where hiring a lawyer is imperative:
► You Are in over Your Head
This is more of an emotional decision, based on your level of comfort when it comes to representing yourself. This varies from person to person, depending on how much you know about the specific area of the law, the effort you are willing to put into educating yourself, your understanding of legal terms and concepts, and your confidence in your ability to express yourself, both written and verbally. If you feel you can’t afford to lose the case, you should find a lawyer.
► You Could Go to Jail
If you’re facing charges for a crime, including domestic violence, tax fraud, or even some motor vehicle offenses like DUI or vehicular homicide, hire an attorney!
► Your Opponent Already Has an Attorney
If you try to go up against an attorney representing your opponent, you will be at a great disadvantage.
► You Stand to Lose Money
If you are in danger of losing a large sum of money, find an attorney.
► Denial of Workers’ Compensation or Disability Claim
Some institutions often have a policy to deny a claim the first time around. This happens because they know a certain percentage of people will simply give up. It is important to get a lawyer up-front, especially since they will take their fee out of the settlement and you won’t have to pay anything up-front.
► Your Case Involves Bodily Injury
This most commonly involves an automobile accident, but it could also involve a lot of other situations, like someone getting bit by your dog or getting injured on your property. Even if you have automobile or homeowner’s insurance, it would still be best to consult a lawyer. If you or a family member have been injured and you seem to have a good claim, most personal injury lawyers will not charge you a fee, but instead take payment from the judgement they obtain.
► You’re Administering the Estate of Someone Who Died
In many states, the procedures for “small estates” have been simplified and the law or will is clear about who inherits, but in some cases, the procedures cand be more complex, there may be tax issues, and a probate lawyer can be of great help.
► Wrongful Termination
There are both state and federal laws at play here, and it’s best to hire an attorney who specializes in this type of law. You can be certain that the other side will have solid legal representation, and you should too.
► You’re Doing Comprehensive Estate Planning
You can prepare a simple will, power of attorney, living will, or even a basic living trust without a lawyer, but you need to be sure you know what you are doing. If there’s a sizeable estate involved, tax issues, or a complicated distribution plan, it is important to hire a lawyer and make sure everything is done right.
► A DUI
Driving under the influence is a serious charge. The consequences can include fines, jail time, losing your license, or any combination of these. A lawyer can meet with the prosecutor and get the charges reduced, especially if it’s your first offense.
► You’re Being Sued
If you’re being sued and stand to lose money, you should get a lawyer. Again, if the other side has a lawyer, so should you. Even if most of these situations are settled out of court, you’ll want a good negotiator by your side.
► You’re Going Through a Complicated Divorce
You will need legal assistance if there are disagreements over assets or children, if there are allegations of domestic violence, or if you have a complex financial situation and the division of retirement benefits or serious tax considerations come into play. In some states, even if you are both in agreement or close to an agreement, you can both hire a lawyer that will assist you through the legal process.
► Drug Charges
Defendants who have hired an attorney always fare better than those who represent themselves or those who take on a public defender. Public defenders will usually recommend a plea bargain that will be worse than what a private attorney can get you.
► A Contract Is Needed
Unless you perfectly understand the terms of the contract you are about to sign, you should consult a lawyer.
► Adopting a Child
Adoption is an important matter and you’ll want someone who will ensure things are done right.
This is one situation where you’ll definitely want a lawyer, and they will want payment up-front.
► Complex Business Matters
If you have a complex business organization, tax matters, need to file for a patent, or if you become involved in litigation, there is no doubt that you should hire a lawyer.
Provided you feel comfortable with handling matters yourself, there are some situations where you can represent yourself, like in the case of parking tickets and minor traffic violations, a simple divorce, small claims court, and basic business matters.
Legal services aren’t cheap and the more complicated your case is, the more it will cost to get legal help, but there are cases where it will be costlier to represent yourself. The question you need to ask yourself is how much is peace of mind worth, knowing you handed the problem over to a professional?
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