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Times in Life When You Need Legal Representation

– Contributed content –

Signing document

(Pixabay, Pexels)

27 Aug. 2019. If you’re going through tough or complex time in your life, you may wonder if you should hire a lawyer. Even if you suspect that you would benefit from professional assistance, the extra cost of hiring a lawyer—and the work involved in finding the right one—can feel like one thing too many.

But there are some situations in which you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not hiring a lawyer. How do you know when you really should have a professional on your side? If you’re on the fence, here are some circumstances that experts agree should prompt you to seriously consider getting legal representation.

Don’t assume you need a lawyer

First off, it’s worth mentioning that you will not always need legal assistance. Sometimes it is a waste of money, especially if the situation is cut-and-dry. If you’re able to get your head around the circumstances and look out for your own interests, you may be more than able to stand up for yourself against an individual or institution that has done you wrong. Small-claims court hearings such as landlord-tenant disputes are a good example. Sometimes it’s enough to simply know your basic rights. With Google search on your side, you might be able to tackle the problem on your own. If you need a little extra advice, consider seeking the advice of a friend who has been in your situation previously, or a wiser, more experienced acquaintance who has experience in law.

When divorce gets complicated

Divorce is becoming more and more normal these days. According to research, there is a divorce every fifteen seconds or less in the USA alone. Even more disturbing is the finding that around eight in ten couples will before their fifth anniversary. If your marriage is on the rocks, that is a sad situation, but you will ideally be able to come to an amicable settlement with your partner with the assistance of a conflict mediator. However, if that is simply not possible at this stage, and the two of you are struggling to agree to the terms of your divorce—especially as regards dividing your property and the custody arrangement for your children—legal assistance will be indispensable.

The terms that you finally sign up for during your divorce will be binding—more so than your marriage—and can be altered only by returning to court. To avoid extra legal fees down the line, call a well-regarded lawyer as soon as things start to seem unmanageable, and conversations between you and your spouse are no longer feeling productive. Your lawyer will also help to arrange a restraining order, should you need one.

Somebody is suing you

If the word ‘lawsuit’ makes you think of TV and movies, and not much else, you might be a little unsure what to do if you find yourself being sued for something. Unfortunately, if you get sued and the case is not handled intelligently, the word ‘lawsuit’ could take on a whole new meaning, and your whole world could come crashing down. Lawsuits can be over silly or insignificant issues, like blatant instances of opportunism or patent trolls, but they can also be deadly serious. If you are being threatened with a lawsuit, it’s best not to leave anything to chance. A lawyer is not negotiable in this situation, and don’t settle for the first one you find, either. Call around, get recommendations, and find the legal team that is most qualified for your individual case. While you might worry that taking your time finding the right lawyer means you’ll be racking up the fees before you even start, many leading law firms make it a policy to provide a free initial consultation, so you won’t have to pay until you’ve made your hire.

You’ve served in the Army

Serving your country is hard, dangerous work. Unlike a regular job, you put your body and your mental health on the line for the sake of the common good. While this type of commitment to your country and values should come with a great deal of respect and due reward, the unfortunate truth is that many veterans end up having put much more into the common pot than they get out. You may have been exposed to harsh climatic conditions, served in conflict zones, or suffered deprivations that put immense strain on your body and increase your risk of serious injury. Veterans are often unaware of their rights, and unable to fight the legal battles required in order to defend them. If your country’s compensation and support have fallen short of what you deserve, it’s wise to call a lawyer and tell your story. You may have a strong case, but you are unlikely to be able to defend it alone.

Following a vehicle accident

If you have been unfortunate enough to be involved in a vehicle incident, and one of the passengers was injured, you should phone a lawyer immediately. This applies for any injury or any passenger, and is even more important in the tragic instance of a fatality. Medical bills to deal with a crash-related injury can be eye-wateringly high, as many injuries can have life-long implications. For example, a head injury which causes impediments in someone’s ability to verbalize could mean that the person needs speech therapy for the rest of their life. The two (or more) insurance companies dealing with the accident will make the liability decision when it comes to who is responsible for footing the bill for accident-related costs. Even so, you should get your own representation in this situation, as insurance companies usually have their own interests at heart at the end of the day.

Loss of life following an accident

While death is really unpleasant to think about, it’s important to acknowledge the necessity of having a lawyer on your side if you’ve been involved in an accident and someone has tragically lost their life. Hiring a lawyer in this situation is more than sensible: it is your responsibility and moral duty to ensure that you play your correct part in the aftermath of this unfortunate situation. Whether the deceased was an employee at your factory or a passenger in your vehicle, it’s essential to ensure that those who are entitled to compensation receive the appropriate amount.

Bear in mind that the compensation that is deemed appropriate following a death may be a lot more than you would expect. For example, if the deceased was providing for a large family, those family members will require financial support for the number of years that would equal the full course of the deceased’s person’s career, had they not passed away. Death represents the highest stakes imaginable for human beings. With that in mind, it is understandably hard even to contemplate financial compensation in the aftermath. However, it is vital that all parties involved face up to their roles in the situation in an honest, reasonable and fair manner.

You have been accused of criminal activity

Back to the movies now. Remember that much-used line when the cop says, “you have a right to remain silent… anything you say may and will be used against you in a court of law?” If watching movies and courtroom dramas teach you anything, let it be this: do not—under any circumstances—try to defend yourself in court when you have been charged with criminal activity. Even if you are not guilty and the crime is a tiny misdemeanor, simply the fact of being charge could severely damage your future. You may struggle to get a job. Banks will be unwilling to lend you money for a mortgage. You may not be able to travel or immigrate. Your life may be impacted in many serious ways you have not even thought of.

This is one of those times in life when you get what you pay for. Ideally, you will hire the most skilled lawyer that you can afford. Do your homework beforehand, as you need someone who gets your situation, and has—successfully!—defended people in the same circumstances. Check out the websites of lawyers who come highly recommended. Remember, online reviews are only worth so much. If you have the opportunity to obtain word-of-mouth accounts of how lawyers have performed in similar situations, you may be able to get valuable insights on how they handled their clients—insights that don’t appear on court records.

Don’t let budgetary concerns make the decision for you

Unfortunately, hiring an expensive legal team is not possible on everyone’s budget. But don’t let this factor stop you from getting the assistance you require. If you’re in serious need of legal representation and you don’t have loads of cash to hand, you could still be entitled to the assistance of a public defender, or you may be able to get a lawyer to handle your case pro-bono. While you may think that a free legal team can’t be very good, some of the best lawyers in the world opt to work as public defenders or take pro-bono cases as a way of giving back to their communities.

Hiring a lawyer isn’t always the best course of action, but sometimes it is absolutely essential. It’s not always easy to know the difference. These tips will help you understand when you need a legal team on your side.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this post are the contributor’s and not those of Science & Enterprise. Readers are encouraged to get legal advice from a licensed professional who represents your interests.

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