When you’re presented with a legal issue, you may be wondering whether or not you need to hire a lawyer.
While hiring an attorney for legal services rarely hurts your case, the truth is that not every circumstance requires the expertise of a lawyer. You’re probably not going to hire one to help you fight a speeding or parking ticket, for example.
There are many different circumstances, however, in which an attorney’s knowledge and experience can be invaluable. Typically, attorneys are needed on cases where there is plenty at stake.
Here are eight times when you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer.
1. You’re filing a personal injury claim
If you’re looking to file a personal injury claim—whether it’s because you have sustained injuries from a car accident, a botched surgery, or another incident—your well-being might depend on getting the compensation you deserve.
Initially, insurance companies may play fair. When they realize that you are bringing the personal injury claim on your own, however, they may deny liability or offer a low settlement amount. After all, these companies have their own claims departments and are able to exhaust all types of resources to investigate your case.
With legal representation, on the other hand, you’re more likely to receive fair compensation. What’s more, working through a personal injury claim requires much of your attention. Hiring an attorney allows you to leave your claim in more capable hands so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
2. You’re going through a difficult divorce
There are times when couples are in complete agreement on the details of a divorce but they are few and far between.
The truth is that divorces have the potential to get very ugly, very quickly. To make matters worse, the terms of a divorce are binding and can’t be changed without returning to court.
If you and an ex-partner are struggling to see eye-to-eye on issues such as assets, property, investments, debt, and child custody, it may be in your best interest to seek legal counsel. An experienced attorney will help you navigate the complexities of this process and make sure you are treated fairly.
3. You’re starting a new business
If you’re planning to launch a new startup or small business, it’s important that you do so lawfully. Failing to set up your business properly can easily come back and bite you down the road.
Particularly if this is your first time launching a new venture, seek out an attorney who specializes in business law.
They will be able to help you work through all of the different line items that may require legal expertise—from choosing a business structure and registering your business to getting all of the required permits and licenses.
4. You’re filing for bankruptcy
522,808 people filed for bankruptcy in 2020. While you are within your legal rights to file for bankruptcy pro se, which is to file without an attorney, it’s highly recommended that you hire one.
If you attempt to file for bankruptcy without an attorney, you will need to know the United States Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure inside and out. Filing incorrectly or making a mistake can have serious financial and legal ramifications in the future.
By hiring a lawyer, on the other hand, you can receive professional advice on how to file lawfully and in a way that is most advantageous for your specific situation. Keep in mind that most attorneys who deal with bankruptcy cases will require payment upfront.
5. You’re being sued
It’s estimated that 40 million lawsuits are filed in the U.S. each year. If someone is filing a lawsuit against you, it’s important that you hire a lawyer to help with your defense—especially if the opposition is going after a significant amount of money or assets.
Keep in mind that, if the amount exceeds that which your state’s small claims court manages, the opposition will almost always have their own lawyer.
By hiring an experienced attorney, you have a better chance of reaching the best possible outcome—whether it’s winning the case in court or negotiating a settlement outside of court.
6. You’re facing a DUI or drug charge
Driving under the influence (DUI) and drug charges should never be taken lightly. While you might be tempted to represent yourself in court, keep in mind that even a first DUI offense can potentially land you time in prison.
While you may have the option of using a public defender, remember that these attorneys often juggle a large number of cases at a time and are unlikely to give your case the attention needed to achieve the best possible outcome.
Instead, hire an attorney who has experience with these types of cases. Many times, private attorneys can help clients get reduced penalties and even avoid jail time altogether.
7. You’re facing criminal charges
Due to the seriousness of a criminal charge, the potential outcomes might include heavy fines, jail time, and other consequences that follow you for the rest of your life.
For this reason, facing a criminal charge can be highly intimidating, and proving your innocence isn’t a job for you to tackle alone. Seek out a top-notch attorney to represent you during your case. They will leave no stone unturned when building your defense and compiling evidence that supports your side of the story.
Even if you are charged as being guilty of a crime, an attorney can often help lessen the blow by getting your sentence reduced. This alone can be worth the cost of their services!
8. You’re creating or revising a will
According to a recent Gallup poll, only 46% of U.S. adults have a will. In the absence of an official will, the state will be responsible for determining who receives your assets—a process that can quickly lead to disharmony among family members.
To prevent confusion or quarreling, hire a reputable attorney who can help you put your will together. Beyond ensuring that the will is legally binding, they will make sure that all components of your estate are addressed and help reduce the recipients’ tax obligations.