Any individual has the right to represent him or herself in the courts of law in Virginia. However, in all but certain very simple cases, we advise against it. An experienced attorney provides a knowledge and understanding of the law and compliance with the legal procedure necessary to handle your case as effectively as possible.
In Litigation, Procedure Rules
A layperson may understand the legal principles at play in questions of liability, but it is unlikely that they will know how to actually proceed in legal action. It is even less likely that the layperson will understand how to comply with discovery requirements, the evidence necessary to prove a given claim at trial, and how to present the evidence in a courtroom.
Even simple accidents may involve complicated insurance questions such as:
- Which insurance company may cover a claim
- The limits of the coverage
- Which coverage should pay first
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All of these issues must be navigated. There are further problems in obtaining insurance policies, medical records, medical bills and other kinds of documents that will be necessary even to settle a case without filing a lawsuit.
The Details Matter
Without a thorough understanding of these matters and years of experience navigating them, you are at an immediate disadvantage. You may spend a great deal of valuable time dealing with things you never expected, and at the end of the day, fail to recover the full value of your case. Missed deadlines and procedural errors could lead to losing the case. An experienced civil litigation lawyer is familiar with the logistics and paperwork and will walk you through every step of the process to be sure you are informed about what is to come and the best strategy to employ when building your case.
Not All Cases Require An Attorney
With all of this said, we do sometimes advise clients that they do not need an attorney. This may be the case in, for example, a property damage claim relating to a motor vehicle accident. It may also be the case in a very simple motor vehicle accident with modest injuries and no complicated insurance questions. For these scenarios, we do occasionally advise that handling the case yourself may be the better option.
If there any complicating factors, however, you may run into significant pitfalls and you may lose out on getting the maximum value of your case. Yes, attorneys can be expensive, but the costs of representing yourself may be higher. We recommend you consider the value of an attorney as well as the price. Feel free to call us to discuss your case and we will give you our thoughts. If we cannot help you, we can usually refer you to an attorney with particular experience in the area of concern.