Asked 3 months ago - West Palm Beach, FLFlag
Can a claimant self represent in a lawsuit? If and when this claimant decides to self represent, what pros and cons are there? Multiple car accidents so multiple UM policies are involved.
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Can you represent yourself? Yes. Should you? No, I don't recommend it. As you can probably guess, the insurance companies involved in your claim will be represented by attorneys, who will have education, training and experience that I am assuming you do not have. Thus, you will be at a distinct disadvantage in pursuing your claim. I strongly recommend that you retain an attorney.
Yes, you can. BUT, as the old addage says, "one who represents himself in a court of law, has a fool as a client." And what further should motivate you in hiring an attorney is the fact that there are multiple insurance adjusters for the various policies, who I am sure LOVE to deal with unrepresented claimants. In essence, there are no pros, ony cons. Just hire an attorney.
Best of luck.
You can represent yourself but it isn't a good idea. A defense lawyer will likely take advantage of any mistakes you make and there are many technical requirements and deadlines that could be devastating to your case if you do not follow all of the rules precisely. Furthermore, based on your comment, it sounds like you will be joining more than one accident in the same lawsuit, and there are special allegations you need to make in your complaint. If I were in an accident, I would not represent myself, even though the only thing I have ever done as a lawyer is litigate injury claims. Aside from the pitfalls I mentioned above that would apply to you, there are emotions involved that may cloud your judgment. You should retain counsel as soon as possible.
Yes, you can. Does the claimant know the law? Not just Florida Traffic Laws, but insurance law which governs auto insurance policies, practices, UM coverage, etc. Does the claimant understand that if money is offered to settle the claim, then a "release" will be a requirement to get the money, and what is being waived in that release (i.e. will releasing party A also unintentionally waive claims against parties B, C, etc.). Is the claimant receiving full value for the claim, and how does the claimant go about determining that?
Lots of issues. Claimants can represent themselves, and in small cases involving bumps and bruises, they often probably should. When the injuries are serious, ad there are multiple coverages involved, then it's probably a safer bet to have an experienced lawyer involved.
You can negotiate a lawyer's fee arrangement. For example, if money has already been offered without a lawyer, then the lawyer should write up the fee agreement to reflect that the lawyer cannot take any fee from the amount offered without the lawyer, i.e. lawyer only takes a fee on amounts above that.
Talk to a lawyer and discuss your options. Perhaps then you'll have a better idea where you stand. Don't feel pressured into signing any agreement you don't like or with a lawyer you don't want.
I can understand the desire to represent yourself in this matter as the apparent pro's are many: More money for you, you will only make decisions that are in your personal best interest, you know your situation better than anyone else, and you don't have to deal with some lawyer from a billboard or TV with a flashy suit and shiny cuff links...
The con's of representing yourself are just to many to type and given the fact that there are multiple UM policies, you will most likely recover a larger amount of money with a lawyer even after the lawyer takes their fee (not to mention not having to come out of pocket to fund the case)..
Recently my mother was the victim of medical malpractice and my dad (who is thought of as an expert in this field) chose to hire another lawyer to handle the case... Often, when wrongdoing happens to you or hits close to home you can no longer be an effective advocate as emotions take over..
Feel free to give me a ring or shoot me an email I would be glad to chat with you further about your case.
Hope this helps,
You are allowed to do so. It would be foolish, however. Since you ask the question, I assume you are unfamiar with the law. How will you comply with the rules if you do not know them? How will you recognize critical issues, if you have no training in the substantive law or in legal analysis. How will you drafrt jury instructions? How will you know how the various accidents, tort-feasors, and UM interplay?
An experienced lawyer should be able to deal with all these issues. Find one!
I am a California attorney not licensed to practice in Florida - Therefore you need to seek the advice of a Florida lawyer. Generally speaking an competent person can represent themselves - as to the pros there are very little, except an attempt to save paying an attorney fee, which generally in personal injury cases is on a contingency basis. The cons are too numerous to mention, especially in a complicated accident situation. Another thing to consider are possible statute of limitations mandatory requirements that if not timely complied with could forever bar any recovery. You need to see a Florida attorney Immediately!!
Short answer, yes you can. Longer answer, it would be insane to. Cons, tons of them: insurance companies have very good lawyers whereas I'm assuming you are not a trained attorney, advantage ins. co. Since there are multiple vehicles involved, benefits may exhaust and you may get nothing even if you have a great claim; proving all damages is tricky even for some new attorneys, for non-attorneys it's mission impossible. The list goes on!!! Pros? only one: you won't have to share your money with an attorney, but really, zero minus x% is still zero. Get an attorney as quickly as possible!!!
I hire lawyers and I am a lawyer. Ever hear the saying anyone who represents himself has a fool for a client? It is very hard to be impartial and objective when you are representing yourself. I did it once for myself in a breach of patent action in Federal court because I didn't want to pay a patent attorney to enforce my patent. I quickly realized that it was impossible because I would have to be a witness. Hire a lawyer, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee so there are not up front costs. If you think the contingency fee is too much then negotiate with them you will be surprised to learn how flexible some of them are.
I agree with the consensus that you should if not hire a lawyer, at the very least consult with one. The best way to illustrate the importance is this: Years ago someone came in and consulted with me after a very serious accident, and more than $70,000 in medical expenses. The at-fault party had $100,000 in coverage, so the last thing this person wanted was to pay an attorney 1/3, and get nothing after paying outstanding medical bills. When he had some problems dealing with the insurance company, he came back in, and it's a good thing he did. I was able to determine that the at-fault driver was in the course and scope of employment, and the employer had a large policy to cover the client's losses. Had he not hired an attorney, he would have never discovered that the other driver was running an errand for his employer, and lost out on a great deal of compensation. Technically, however, the answer to your question is "Yes."
You should definitely not represent yourself in this situation. There are many important issues here. If there are multiple car accidents with multiple UM policies involved, you will definitely want to hire a Florida Bar approved attorney who has experience handling personal injury auto accident cases.
You can represent yourself so long as you are an individual and not a corporation. If you are not a lawyer, you cannot represent your spouse or child if they have claims. You really should have an attorney to level the playing field with the insurance company. They will have a lawyer and you will be at a serious disadvantage. If you are concerned about fees, the lawyer can represent you on a contingent fee and take a portion of the recovery as a fee so you will not have to come up with the money up front.
Generally speaking you can represent yourself for almost anything in any court. However, also in almost all circumstances this is a bad idea. The law is too complex. The rules of procedure too difficult. If you try it, you may seriously compromise your claim or it could be dismissed all together. If you tore you ACL you would not operate on your knee yourself, correct? Same principle, hire a professional, you will be glad you did.
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