Updated February 1, 2024

Determining If a Lawyer Is Necessary for Your Case


We’re often asked the question, “Do I really need to hire an attorney?” The rule that we have is: It really depends on the seriousness of the injury and what kind of economic and other problems the person is having because of the accident that caused the injury.

If you have a case in which you’ve had a bad injury, you’ve been to the doctor quite a bit, you’ve lost a lot of money, you might have a permanent kind of a situation on your hands, then that definitely is the kind of a case where you want to hire an attorney and get some advice. On the other hand, if you have a situation where you have not been to the doctor, or maybe if you have been you’ve only been one or two times, you’re not having really any ongoing problems and your medical bills aren’t very high, in that kind of situation you might be able to settle the case on your own and not have to pay an attorney to get any advice.

It really depends on your own comfort level in terms of how worried you are about your future and recovering from the injuries that you have suffered. Most attorneys who do personal injury work will talk to a client without any kind of a charge because the fee usually is on a contingency fee type of arrangement, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to at least talk to an attorney and find out whether you really think you need to hire somebody or not as you go forward in recovering from your injuries.

After you’ve been in an accident, it’s common to wonder if you need to hire a lawyer. Is the added expense of hiring an attorney really necessary? It depends on your case. Simple cases may not require the knowledge and expertise of a lawyer; these might not be worth the cost. On the other hand, some cases–for example, cases involving catastrophic injury or death–are more complicated or have higher stakes. If you choose to forgo a lawyer for a case like this, you may accept a too-low settlement or not receive any settlement at all.

If you’re having trouble making this decision, some signs can indicate which path to choose. We’re going to break down when it might be better to hire a lawyer, when you may be able to skip an attorney, and how to feel confident in your decision.

Do I Need a Lawyer or Attorney?

Depending on the type of legal assistance you need, you may not need a lawyer. This need may largely depend upon the area of law related to your case. You may be less likely to need a lawyer for certain areas of law. These legal areas can include the following:

Business Law

Many business owners can successfully start their business without the help of a lawyer. Many can register their business and set up their accounts without a lawyer.

Small Claims Court

You may not need to hire a lawyer in a civil dispute that goes to small claims court. Instead, you can represent yourself.

Divorce Law

Although many couples have messy, drawn-out divorces, some choose to file divorce paperwork themselves, without a lawyer. Filing divorce paperwork without a lawyer can work if the couple has no children and simple assets, as long as both parties agree on how to divide their assets.

If I Don’t Hire a Lawyer, Who Else Can Help?

Depending on your situation, there may be other people or organizations that can advise you. This can include:

  • Consumer protection agency
  • Ombudsman
  • Chambers of Commerce and small business development centers

Many different groups exist to advocate for you, depending on your specific legal needs and location.

How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

In some areas of law, such as small claims court and minor traffic violations, hiring a lawyer may not make sense. However, when personal injury is involved, the stakes are much higher. A personal injury case almost always requires a lawyer.

What Are My Options If I’ve Been in an Accident?

For certain types of accidents, specific people or entities other than lawyers may advocate for you. Below are two of the most common examples.

Workers’ Compensation

A work-related injury entitles you to receive workers’ compensation. If you were injured at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. In this case, your employer will cover the cost of medical treatment, wage replacement, and more. You may not need to hire an attorney in a standard workers’ compensation case. Your supervisor or someone else at your company will help you coordinate these benefits.

However, you may want to consult with an attorney even after an on-the-job injury. Although many workplace accidents are unavoidable, some accidents could have been prevented. If another party, such as your supervisor, did not follow appropriate regulations, they may be found negligent. Similarly, the manufacturer may be liable if malfunctioning equipment caused the injury.  If you believe that your workplace accident was the result of someone’s negligence, an attorney may be able to help you understand your workers’ compensation rights. They can help you recover more than a standard workers’ compensation package.

Car Insurance

After a car accident, an insurance agent representing the at-fault driver may offer you a settlement. You can accept this settlement without the help of an attorney. However, as in the case of workplace accidents, you may benefit from consulting with an attorney before you accept their offer. An attorney can help you determine whether the settlement is fair and assess your chances of recovering more damages.

Most other types of personal injury cases will not have these built-in advocates. For example, if you have experienced medical malpractice, your health insurance company will not seek damages on your behalf. For these cases, you will likely need to hire an attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions After Suffering an Injury

Can I Represent Myself in a Personal Injury Case?

You might wonder whether you can or should represent yourself in a personal injury case. Although you have the legal right to represent yourself, most lawyers do not recommend it. A personal injury attorney will nearly always have a better working knowledge of the law and more experience with personal injury disputes such as malpractice, vehicle accidents, and workplace injuries. Suppose you decide to try your case without a lawyer. In that case, you risk accepting a too-low settlement or not receiving a settlement at all.

Additionally, as the victim or victim’s family member, you may be dealing with ongoing pain, numerous medical appointments, loss of income, or loss of a loved one. You deserve to have a knowledgeable and capable third party handling your case while your focus is on restoring your life.

How Soon Should I Get a Lawyer?

After you’ve been in an accident, you should hire a lawyer as soon as possible. It is normal to feel overwhelmed, especially if you have a traumatic injury and a long road to recovery. However, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases, so starting the process as soon as soon as possible is important. Knowing that an attorney is handling your case can ease your worries, especially as the medical bills start arriving.

What Is the Process of Hiring a Lawyer?

If you’re considering hiring a personal injury lawyer, your first step is to research how to choose a personal injury attorney for your case. Then, you can set up a consultation with the lawyer before you hire them. In many cases, this consultation will be free, and you are not obligated to hire them. During your meeting, you can discuss your case and ask your attorney any questions you have. If you and the attorney are a good match, you will sign a contract and agree to their fees.

Schedule a Free Consultation Now

If you are ready to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys, contact us today for a free consultation. We can review your case without obligation and help you determine the best course of action.

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