A pro se litigant is someone who is representing themselves in court, whether it’s a criminal or civil trial. Most of the time, trying to handle the court system as a pro se litigant is not a good idea. With personal injury cases, it can end up badly for the one who tries to handle everything on their own. Some of the reasons why it’s not a good idea to handle a case pro se include the following.
A Case’s Outcome is Never Guaranteed
No matter how much evidence there is that the pro se litigant is owed compensation, it’s possible a judge will not see it that way. Surprises could appear during court, evidence may not be as conclusive as it appears, or there may be other issues that make it more difficult for the person to obtain the compensation they need. One of the biggest reasons why you need a lawyer is because the case’s outcome is never guaranteed and there is a lot that can go wrong, especially when the person is trying to handle a case that could take years to complete on their own.
Courtroom Procedures Can be Complex
Legal speak and courtroom procedures can both be an issue for a pro se litigant. At home, they can simply look up words they don’t understand online or get help filling out paperwork by finding information that can help. In the courtroom, there’s no time for this. They’ll need to know what all of the legal terms mean, they’ll need to understand how to do everything in the court, and will need to make sure they understand all of the relevant procedures so they don’t make a mistake that means they lose the case.
Not Easy to Thoroughly Investigate the Case
For personal injury and related cases, every single tiny detail matters. A lawyer will have a team on their side to go through every detail for the case and make sure they have a thorough understanding of the case. They’ll be able to collect and interpret evidence, ensure they understand the points that could make a huge difference in the case, and sort through everything to find the information that will help their client. A pro se litigant doesn’t have this help available to them. They have to handle the investigation for the case on their own and ensure they don’t miss anything, which can be difficult to do.
It’s Difficult to Negotiate a Settlement
A pro se litigant may be able to determine how much compensation they should receive, but from there they need to know how much they’re willing to accept and how to negotiate a higher amount. The opposing party will have lawyers on their side, so it is very difficult for a pro se litigant to go up against them alone and negotiate a higher settlement. Instead, they will likely feel pressured to accept a much smaller amount, which means they’re losing out on a lot of potential compensation. Even if they aren’t willing to back down, they may at some point feel like they need to accept the settlement so they end up getting something instead of nothing.
Hard to Know When to Settle or When to Go to the Trial
Most personal injury cases end in a settlement instead of going to trial simply because both sides want to avoid the expense of a trial. However, there are many cases that do go to trial because this is the only way for the injured person to get the compensation they are owed. It’s difficult to know whether settling is a good idea or if it might be better to go to court. There’s always the chance of receiving a higher amount of compensation through a trial, but it may not be enough to make a trial worthwhile. Prose litigants need to determine on their own if a trial is worth the added compensation they might get.
No One to Deal With Opposition
Who is going to handle all of the phone calls to or from the opposition? Who handles getting the paperwork to and from the opposing party, who will handle getting evidence from the opposing party, or anything else that has to do with dealing with the opposition? A pro se litigant is going to have to do all of this on their own, which can be complicated by the fact they don’t know the rules of civil procedure or the legal tactics the opposing party might use. This makes it highly likely they will end up doing something that is not good for their case and could cause them to lose the potential for compensation.
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Deadlines Aren’t Negotiable
Another issue that could be detrimental to the case is the difficulty keeping track of and following deadlines. A pro se litigant must be familiar with the statute of limitations pertaining to their case, the deadlines for evidence submission, deadlines for motions, and more. If they miss a deadline relating to evidence, it could mean they can’t use certain pieces of evidence, which means it is much harder to prove they are owed compensation. If they miss the deadline to file the case with the courts, it could mean they no longer have the opportunity to sue for compensation and will need to handle all expenses from the accident on their own.
Having a lawyer is crucial for personal injury cases, along with other types of cases. Prose litigants have a distinct disadvantage trying to handle cases on their own, especially if the case ends up going to trial, as they do not have the experience needed to go up against the opposing party’s legal team. Instead, anyone who has been injured and believes they are owed compensation for their injuries should speak with a lawyer to get the right help from the beginning. The lawyer is already familiar with the rules of procedure, legal tactics used in personal injury cases, the deadlines for the case, and anything else that is mandatory to know before starting a personal injury claim.