Sometimes, people think their case is simple enough to handle on their own. In many cases, that’s a mistake, whether you have a personal injury case or a criminal defense case.
Representing yourself in either situation could cause life-long consequences, whether you do not receive the compensation you deserve in a personal injury matter or you end up with fines and/or prison time that you did not deserve.
If an accident injured you, you may file a claim with the at-fault person’s insurance company to recover damages. In some cases, you might have to file against your own insurance company or directly against the defendant if the defendant did not have enough, or any, insurance.
Damages include more than medical expenses. However, insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Thus, they’ll do anything to deny a claim or at least offer you a pittance one that might not even cover the medical expenses you’ve already incurred.
You can recover economic damages and non-economic damages, including:
- Past and future medical expenses. You might need future medical expenses if your injuries are severe or catastrophic, and doctors expect them to result in a long-term or permanent disability.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses, in addition to some other expenses related to the death of a loved one, including probate court fees.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged property.
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity.
Economic damages, as listed above, have a firm, documentable monetary value. Non-economic damages, as follows, do not have a specific monetary value attached.
Both types are compensatory damages.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of companionship and/or consortium.
- Loss of quality of life and/or loss of use of a body part or bodily function.
- Amputated digits or limbs, excessive scarring, and/or disfigurement.
It takes experience and communication with doctors and other professionals to determine how much your healthcare could cost if you have injuries that turn into long-term or permanent disabilities.
In some cases, you might recover punitive damages. However, obtaining punitive damages is usually quite difficult. You have to prove that the defendant’s actions and inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. If you are successful, the jury could award additional compensation.
Additionally, more than one person might share in the responsibility for your injuries. For example, if a truck driver caused an accident, others may share fault for the wreck.
The trucking company, a maintenance tech, inspector, cargo loader, manufacturer, and others could also share the liability for your injuries. Negotiating with or suing multiple defendants becomes complicated, as the court must often determine the fault (or percentage of fault) of each person or entity.
For example, if a truck driver wrecked while drinking and driving, the trucker’s company could share liability.
You should always pay a criminal defense attorney to represent your rights in court even if the charges against you are minor. If the charges stick, they will affect your life and some could follow you for the rest of your life.
Many employers will not hire felons but will hire someone with a misdemeanor. Others won’t even hire someone with a misdemeanor, but you have a better chance of getting a job with a misdemeanor.
#1. Reduction of Charges
Often, a criminal defense attorney makes a deal with the prosecutors after he or she enters a plea on your behalf. A criminal defense attorney could negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce or drop charges, depending on the circumstances.
#2. Your Rights
More importantly, you want to ensure that the police and/or prosecutor do not violate your rights.
The prosecution must provide all of the evidence it has to your attorney, who will then review the evidence and investigate your case to:
- Determine whether the police properly charged you.
- Determine whether the police followed proper procedure, including reading you your rights.
- Determine whether the police made a legal arrest.
- Ensure the witnesses against you testify truthfully your attorney can cross-examine witnesses to find out if they are lying.
- Ensure you get a speedy trial.
- Ensure that you have a fair trial.
- Your rights play a large part in getting the charges against you dropped. If the police erred in arresting you, it might be enough to have the charges dropped.
Part of the arraignment is finding out what your bail is. If your attorney believes your bail is set too high, they can ask the court to reduce bail based on certain circumstances. Your attorney could even ask to release you on your own recognizance.
If the court sets the bail too high, you might not be able to bail out of jail. If you are not a flight risk and depending on the crime you stand accused of, you can wait for trial without staying in jail. This allows you to work and continue providing for yourself and your family.
#4. Witness Testimony
Often, during a hearing, the prosecution might call witnesses to testify against you. Your attorney will pick holes in the witnesses’ testimony if their stories differ from yours. This could help you obtain a lesser sentence or even dismiss the charges if your attorney can prove the witness lied.
Additionally, witnesses might think they have seen something. Cross-examination can help get to the bottom of a witness’s faulty memory.