If you are involved in a personal injury case, you have undoubtedly questioned whether or not you need an attorney. You might consider the cost of hiring a lawyer, even on a contingency fee basis, or wether or not you should trust an attorney to handle your claim. These are valid common questions, and you do have the legal right to represent yourself in a court of law at which point you would be considered a “Pro Se” litigant. In fact, in 2016 alone, there were over 300 thousand cases, which includes both criminal and civil cases, involving pro se litigants in state courts in Georgia, but pro se litigants face several unique challenges in our nation’s judicial system.
These challenges can have adverse consequences that are permanent. You, as a potential plaintiff, must understand that you will be responsible for the outcome of your case, and a lack of knowledge, understanding, or legal expertise is not a valid excuse for failing to prepare pleadings correctly, execute proper procedures in court, or correctly interpret what is required of you as a plaintiff by law. Due to this, many people rely on personal injury attorneys who have gained a thorough understanding of personal injury law through years of study and real world experience to assist them with their personal injury claim.
Pro Se Litigants in Atlanta, GA
The American Bar Association conducted a survey of 986 judges in 2009 that specifically addressed the effects pro se litigants had on their own cases. To put this into perspective, pro se litigation is generally discussed at times when it is growing, which normally occurs during a time of poor economic conditions such as 2009, the year after the 2008 financial crisis. Of the surveyed judges, 53% believed that the number of cases involving a pro se litigant had increased.
The judges were also asked if they saw a change in the level of representation in their courtrooms, and 60% indicated that they saw fewer parties being represented. Moreover, the surveyed judges were asked what type of an impact the lack of representation had on the cases that came before them, and 62% stated that a lack of representation had a negative impact on the case itself. The study went on to conclude that this finding is significant, because judges are often the finders of fact and charged with the responsibility of handing down the appropriate judgement at the conclusion of a case.
Most Common Problems with Pro Se Litigants
The study is relevant for many reasons one of which is our ability to gain information from a neutral third party, a judge, with an intimate knowledge of the law. The judges were asked to give some of the biggest problems pro se litigants have in a court of law, and they indicated the following:
- 94% of the judges indicated that failure to present the necessary evidence was the most common problem.
- 89% of the judges indicated that the parties were impacted by procedural errors
- 85% of the judges indicated that pro se litigants exhibited ineffective witness examination
- 85% of the judges indicated that pro se litigants failed to properly object to evidence
- 77% of the judges indicated that pro se litigants gave ineffective arguments
This information can adversely affect a plaintiff who settles their case outside of a courtroom. Remember, insurance companies or represented individuals generally settle a case due to an aversion to the risk of losing a court battle, but self represented plaintiffs are less likely to prevail in court for a number of reasons some of which are listed above. As such, the biggest reason cases normally settle has effectively been removed from the negotiating equation, and more often than not, the result of this scenario is usually you being offered a fraction of what your claim would be worth if you were represented.
Why do I Need an Attorney for my Personal Injury Claim?
An attorney’s value is really based on their level of skill, knowledge, and experience. A lawyer usually completes an extensive amount, 6 to 7 years, of schooling, which includes 2½ to 3 years studying the fundamentals of practicing law in law school. Moreover, attorneys gain a plethora of knowledge that cannot be gained from a book or article online by being immersed in the judicial system on a day to day basis. The knowledge and skill your attorney has gained is the real reason you hire them, because this is generally a critical factor in obtaining a positive outcome in your case.
Personal Injury Lawyer in Atlanta, GA
At Cambre and Associates, our team of personal injury lawyers in Atlanta is comprised of some of the best lawyers in the state. We have dedicated our careers to the study and practice of personal injury law and stand ready to assist you with your personal injury case. Don’t make a mistake that could negatively affect your claim. Call our office today for a free confidential case evaluation.