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Can I sue without a lawyer after I was struck by a truck ?

Staten Island, NY |

A few days ago I was struck by a truck and suffered a concession fractured knee and many other injuries. This will be my 2nd lawsuit and the first lawsuit my lawyer took a heavily amount of money from me. I wanted to know if I can sue myself without the need of a lawyer and possibly just take the first settlement offer so my lawyer doesn't have to take half or 33%. Also, I would like to know what are the first steps I have to take and would it be better if I filed myself. I just want to take the settlement they offer me, I don't want to go to court.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.
- Angel

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Attorney answers 14


You can, but I would NEVER advise doing so. Given that this is a motor vehicle accident, you'd want the expertise an attorney brings to the table to navigate not only the no fault laws, but the discovery and motions that will follow. That contingent fee might seem like a lot at first, but it is well worth the investment in a good personal injurt attorney.

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Hi Angel,
It sounds like you were hurt quite seriously. The best advice to maximize any recovery would be to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The insurance companies will unfortunately find a way to pay you less than what your case may be worth. Also note that you have only 30 days in New York to file for no Fault Medical benefits. I will be glad to answer any further questions that you may have.


You absolutely should not try to handle this matter yourself. A lawyer knowledgeable in trucking accidents can more than make up for the amount you would lose if you try toI handle the case yourself. It sounds like you have a serious injury and need someone experienced to represent your interests. If you are asking questions here, you already know that you don't know enough to handle it yourself. I had a case a few years ago where a client wanted to settle within weeks of an accident because he was being offered money by a defendant and he thought the amount they offered quickly seemed like a lot of money and what if, etc. The case later settled for approximately $2million. Do yourself a favor and don't worry about paying a fee, call a lawyer. You will be better off in te long run.

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Gregory Scott Gennarelli

Gregory Scott Gennarelli


I should also point out, and I don't think it was mentioned in any of the other posts, that lawyers for this type of case front all expenses on a case and we, at least my office and most others, only get repaid expenses if we are successful. If you proceed on your own, you will be paying all of your own expenses up front, with know guarantee of recovery, especially if you make a mistake on the law, or in questioning a witness. Just food for thought.


Sure you can but the 1st question you have to ask yourself is do you know how? Assuming you don't what are you going to do? teach yourself? It's not very easy. You'll probably end up stressing yourself out and will end up with less money or even no money than had you hired an attorney. Plus you'll be responsible for all the costs, such as medical opinions, filing fees, etc. Most attorneys offer no fee unless you win your case and than they take the 33%. It would make little to no sense to go forward with such a case without an attorney and if you accept the first offer you'll probably be selling yourself very short. I would recommend hiring an attorney, if you need a referral contact me as I know some great ethical attorneys who can help you.
Nicklaus Misiti
Law Offices of Nicklaus Misiti
212 537 4407

Legal disclaimer: The statement above is general in nature, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.


I agree with what my colleagues have written. If you represent yourself, you will be making a tremendous mistake. Consider that if the truck is owned or operated by a municipality or by a public authority, you will be dealing with different rules than you would with a privately owned vehicle. If you are on Medicare, you will need a lawyer to advise you how your medical bills will be paid and what if anything needs to be repaid to Medicare once the case concludes.

Please do yourself a favor and consult with an attorney.

Trying to navigate these sholes

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Not a great idea....but, remember, this is America. You can always walk into Court, file a summons and complaint without proper preparation and hope for the best. Imagine for a moment you actually receive that "first settlement offer" of $15,000. Would that be worth it when contrasting it with a settlement obtained by an attorney which was even as small as $45,000. Give it some thought.!!

Alfred Laub

The underlying facts for each situation are unique. Any responses given are for informational purposes only and are not designed or intended as professional legal advice, since any suggestions may not apply to your specific circumstance. This information exchange does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Should you determine that you need immediate legal assistance or action , you should contact your local Bar Association for a referral to an attorney in your area.


You can,of course, sue the truck that hit you without at lawyer, and sure, you can negotiate with experienced insurance professionals, but that would be a huge mistake. Insurance companies love unrepresented individuals that distrust lawyers. If liability is good, and the injury is as you indicate a fractured knee, many firms, mine included, will charge you less than a third. It sounds like you don't have a good working relationship with your current attorney that you feel like you can't discuss his fee structure with him. I am never offended if a client asks if I can do better than a standard one-third on a case. Sometimes I can, when believe liability is relatively certain and the damages will be at a certain level,and sometimes I can't. It never hurts to talk about it.

Please see my disclaimer.

If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email -


I would strongly advise not to do so. Would you fix your own roof or onduct a heart surgery on your self? Probably not. Get a lawyer and do it fast.


You can but you should not. If you think the fee was too high you may be able to negotiate a lower fee with a new lawyer.

Please be advised that there is no attorney-client relationship between us. No attorney-client relationship exists between us until an engagement agreement has been fully executed by both of us. There may be statute of limitations issues and other factors that may impact your legal rights and remedies. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is otherwise not to be relied upon for any purpose.


I commend Mr. Gold and others for mentioning that contingency fees are negotiable. Private practice lawyers are in business and make business decisions all the time about cases. I practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, so obviously am not asking for your business. But at my firm of Reed & Mansfield we have made a business decision to offer a 25% contingency fee to all traffic accident clients in case in which the client was not cited by the police for a traffic violation but the other driver was. We think this is a low, discount contingency fee.

Be careful, though. Some contingency fees remain at a given percentage no matter how far the case has to be pursued to get compensation. Other contingency fees increase if suit has to be filed; if you get close to trial, if there is a trial etc.

Look at our page on 25% fee and on "About Legal Fees" for a discussion of discounts and contingency fees.


As explained here, ad nauseum, you would be better served hiring an attorney than handling the matter yourself. There are so many pitfalls to negligence actions in New York. Even a well-trained attorney who deals with these cases exclusively will learn something new on a daily basis.

So many factors could affect your ultimate recovery as there are decisions to be made at every step in these cases. For example, a seemingly simple question would be that of venue. While you may be inclined to start your case in Staten Island, as that is where you live, this would be a mistake where there is the possibility to bring the case in a more favorable jurisdiction for plaintiff's - such as Brooklyn or the Bronx or even Manhattan. Without the training and experience handling NY cases, you would not know that and would probably decide on what made it easier for your handling of the matter. This would be very detrimental as a case with Staten Island venue, no matter how significant, would have a significantly lower value than the same case with Bronx venue.

This is just one example. There are many more. I am not trying to convince you for the sake of one of my colleagues earning a fee, or to tout my profession in general, but instead am truly trying to explain why this decision is in your best interest. The bottom lines is that insurance companies do not take pro-se litigants seriously. You would be lucky if you got 20% of what your case was worth.

Good luck and think long and hard before you make this decision. You have a significant injury with significant potential. Act quickly, hire a lawyer you feel comfortable with and don't worry about the 1/3 fee. It will be worth it in the end.

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I agree with all of the above. You would likely get far less money out of your case if you tried to take on the insurance company yourself than if you paid an attorney to deal with them for you. The insurance company is trained in dealing with people who have no experience in handling these issues.


Of course you can file suit on your own. However, would you do brain surgery on yourself at home with a mirror and a butter knife? I doubt it. People hire professionals because they know what they are doing.You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on

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The short answer is yes, you can sue yourself. But the real question is wether you should even consider proceeding without a lawyer. Having a lawyer represent you usually adds tremendous value to your case. It is possible that you will recovering more with your attorney, even after paying his or her fees, then you will recover if you represent yourself - especially if you're considering taking the first settlement offer.

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