Can I Handle My Case Without A Lawyer?

Trial in a courtroom.

Table of Contents

Hiring an attorney to handle your personal injury case could be one of the most important financial decisions you ever make. However, if you settle your case without an attorney with the background and experience to handle your case correctly, you might regret that decision.

In short, the answer to whether you can handle your case is usually “yes.” You can obtain your medical records, contact the other party’s insurance company, make a demand, negotiate a settlement, and receive a check without the assistance of a personal injury attorney.

But the question isn’t whether you can handle your personal injury case but whether you can do so effectively. Does it make sense to hire an attorney? No one wants to incur the cost of an attorney and find out that they could have done just as well – or better – without the expense of an attorney.

Attorneys Cost Money

The only good reason not to retain an attorney for your injury case is the cost! In personal injury cases, attorney’s fees are usually 33% of the amount recovered when a case is settled without a lawsuit being filed. Fees are generally 40% of the amount recovered when a claim is settled. 

Other costs are involved, but those costs are generally the same whether you use an attorney or handle the case independently.

In some personal injury cases, you may be better off handling your case without an attorney. 

Generally, these are cases where liability isn’t disputed, your injuries are minor, and you have no pre-existing conditions that complicate causation. It also helps if you are organized and able to present your case clearly and articulately to the insurance company adjuster. 

In our experience, most cases do not meet all these criteria.

During your initial free consultation, if we find you’re better off handling your case without an attorney, we will tell you that. We do not take on cases in which we cannot provide a clear, direct benefit to our client.

Some Cases Can be Handled Without an Attorney

Many people think they don’t need an attorney because they want to settle their case “out of court.” If you have a small case and want to settle out of court, you may be able to handle settling or taking the case to court without an attorney.

What’s a small case? In Maryland, the small claims limit in District Court is $5,000. So if your total claim, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages, is less than $5,000, you may be able to handle your case without an attorney.

If you think your case might be small, but you’re not sure, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation so that one of our experienced personal injury attorneys can meet and discuss your case. There’s never a cost or obligation to meet with us to evaluate your personal injury claim.

Consider Economic and Noneconomic Damages When Deciding Whether You Have a Small Claim

Economic damages are money that reimburses financial losses due to the crash. These damages include medical bills and lost wages.

Noneconomic damages compensate the plaintiff for the personal injuries sustained and the effect those injuries have on a person’s physical and mental health. Both types of damages should account for both past and future damages.

Often, noneconomic damages make up the most significant part of the value of a case. 

In most cases that go to court, we build the case on noneconomic damages, only leaving out the economic damages in a case. There are strategic reasons, and we can discuss those with you at the appropriate time. The point is, even if you have $2,000 in medical bills, it doesn’t necessarily mean your case should be handled as a small claim. For example, we recently settled a lawsuit for $32,000 despite only $900 in medical bills.

Personal Injury Attorneys Should Handle Most Cases

Most of the time, you’re better off with an experienced personal injury attorney on your case. There are many aspects to handling a claim that can confuse someone unfamiliar with the process. An attorney can help you open and resolve a PIP claim, obtain your medical records, evaluate the value of your case and negotiate a settlement that reflects the actual value of your case.

Your case’s value is based on what a judge or jury may award as a verdict if your case goes to trial. Unless you’re familiar with the court system and have significant experience litigating and negotiating personal injury claims, it’s difficult to know your case’s value. Moreover, a case’s value depends on how it is presented, where it’s tried, and the jury’s makeup.

Insurance companies have one driving question when making an offer to settle your case: What will happen if we don’t get a settlement?

Without an experienced attorney, the answer to that question is usually obvious – nothing or very little harm. For most people, without an attorney, they might file a small claims action and may get a verdict of $5,000. The insurance company is okay with your $5,000 ruling.

If you represent yourself in a case that’s not a small claims action, for instance, a case for more than $5,000, the insurance company will send you discovery which must be answered timely and according to the rules. If you succeed in answering the discovery, you must represent yourself at trial. This implies getting what you need into evidence so the judge can consider it. 

If you don’t handle things correctly, you will likely lose your case and get no compensation for your injuries. You’ll even be responsible for court costs.

Get Experienced Representation On Your Side

Hiring an attorney for your injury case is entirely up to you. However, you have nothing to lose by scheduling a no-obligation consultation with the personal injury lawyers at Baldwin, Briscoe, and Steinmetz. We will let you know if you can handle your case without our team. That information alone is worth the time and phone call. 

Our experienced attorneys can assist you with your personal injury case. Call today to schedule a free consultation for your injury-related claim.