If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you are probably considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in order to recoup your losses. While personal injury plaintiffs (i.e. the injured individual who is suing) in South Carolina are legally able to pursue their claim without the assistance of a lawyer, having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side can make a world of difference.
Should I Consider Representing Myself?
People who decide to represent themselves in personal injury cases (referred to as pro se litigants) often face the following major disadvantages:
- Not being taken seriously in court. Sometimes the opposing counsel will not take pro se litigants seriously because they assume that they are only representing themselves because they couldn’t find an attorney to take their case.
- Single-handedly shouldering the burden of proof. Some pro se litigants lose their cases because they are ill-equipped to prove their case. Personal injury plaintiffs are required to prove multiple elements in court and will likely have to gather evidence beforehand via depositions, interrogatories, and various requests for information. Many pro se litigants underestimate how tedious and difficult it will be to successfully prove their cases.
- Not having professional investigators on your side. It is very likely that opposing counsel will have a team of people working to investigate the case and disprove your claim. On the other hand, many pro se litigants are forced to conduct their investigation without any outside help.
- Undervaluing their claim. Many pro se litigants are unfamiliar with personal injury cases and lack the experience necessary to accurately determine how much their claim is worth. This often results in pro se litigants undervaluing their claims.
If you feel that hiring a personal injury lawyer may be in your best interest, consider scheduling a free no-obligation initial consultation at the Elrod Pope Law Firm. Our experienced personal injury attorneys would be happy to discuss your case with you and explain your legal options. However, you’ll want to make sure that you get the most out of your free initial consultation so consider jotting down any questions that you may have before your consultation. Not sure what to ask? When interviewing a personal injury attorney you may want to consider asking the following five questions in order to help get a sense of whether or not the attorney you are meeting with is a good fit for you and your case.
1. How do you charge for your legal services?
Personal injury lawyers in South Carolina generally charge clients in one of three ways: via a flat fee, an hourly rate, or on contingency. Under a flat fee payment arrangement the lawyer charges a fixed amount to take on the case. If your lawyer charges a fixed fee, be sure to ask if there are any additional costs that you may be required to pay. For example, if your case goes to trial, will you have to make an additional payment? Other lawyers charge their clients an hourly fee. This means that the client’s bill is determined by how much time the lawyer, and his or her associates, spend working on the case. Lastly, some law firms, including Elrod Pope Law Firm, work on a contingency basis, which means that the client only pays their lawyer if they win their case. This payment structure enables injured clients to retain a competent lawyer even if they are unable to pay upfront because their legal fees are set as a percentage of the settlement that they receive when they win their case.
2. Do you have experience handling my type of personal injury case?
Personal injury cases arise under many different circumstances and it is important that you hire a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling your type of case. This is important because it takes a different set of skills to successfully try a medical malpractice case versus a workers’ compensation claim. When interviewing attorneys, be sure to ask if they have experience handling your type of case and what percent of their practice is dedicated to representing clients like you.
3. If my case goes to trial, will you be the lawyer representing me in court?
Be aware that in some instances the attorney you are interviewing will not be the only attorney working on your case. It is common for associate attorneys to assist more senior attorneys, but be sure to ask who will be working on your case and in what capacity in order to avoid surprises later on down the road. While many personal injury cases are settled outside of court it is still very important to ask who will represent you in court in the event that your case ends up going to trial.
4. Have you ever been disciplined for any legal or ethical violations?
Most attorneys in South Carolina have never been disciplined by the state bar, but this is still an important question to ask. If the lawyer you are interviewing has been disciplined for a legal or ethical violation in the past, don’t be afraid to ask about the nature of the violation. It is important that you hire an attorney whom you feel comfortable working with.
5. Why should I hire you?
Why not give the attorney you are interviewing an opportunity to sell himself or herself to you? How an attorney answers this question will give you a good idea of how this particular attorney will approach your case, where their priorities lie, and whether or not you are a good fit for each other.
Need Legal Advice?
At the Elrod Pope Law Firm we understand how important it is to hire a personal injury lawyer whom you feel comfortable with. That is why we offer new clients a free initial consultation during which we will evaluate your case and answer any questions that you might have. If you are considering pursuing a personal injury case and would like to discuss your legal options with an experienced South Carolina lawyer, contact our office today.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.