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Ours is a self-sufficient culture. We generally do not like asking others for help even though we may need it. This general predisposition toward self-reliance does not change simply because we find ourselves injured in a bus crash. Perhaps we are too proud to admit that we cannot handle the situation on our own. Or maybe we do need help but do not know where to turn for help. Or maybe still we believe our case is “clear cut” and do not believe anyone could believe the defendant acted reasonably under the circumstances. Or you may not want to spend what you believe to be an excessive amount of money on attorney’s fees.
Regardless of the reasons underlying such a decision, choosing to represent yourself in a bus accident lawsuit is a serious decision that can negatively impact your ability to recover compensation for your injuries. Before you decide to “go it alone” and represent yourself, consider the following:
- If you represent yourself, you become responsible for your own success. If you are represented, your attorney must provide you with reasonably competent assistance. If he or she does not, you may be entitled to bring a claim against your attorney. But if you lose your compensation case, you are not able to analyze whether your attorney provided you poor assistance or made a serious mistake in representing you.
- If you represent yourself, you cannot later choose to have an attorney. You are able to change your mind about having an attorney represent you up until the time of trial. Once your case has been tried, however, you cannot later ask to retry the case with the assistance of an attorney.
- If you represent yourself, you are responsible for collecting and preserving important evidence. Choosing to represent yourself means that you are assuming the responsibility for making sure that important witnesses are properly subpoenaed and that vital evidence is properly preserved. You can lose important evidence like the bus driver’s logbook and computer data from the bus if you do not file the appropriate documents necessary to have that information retained. Once this evidence is lost, it is gone forever.
- By representing yourself, you will be held to the same standards as an attorney. You might assume that the judge or other attorneys will cut you a break if you represent yourself. After all, you did not go to law school nor have you spent years representing yourself. But litigants who represent themselves (called pro se litigants) are held to the same standards as an attorney would be. This means that you must comply with all procedural rules and deadlines for filing motions. You must follow the rules of evidence at trial and properly introduce testimony and evidence. If you wish to appeal the trial court’s decision, you must comply with those procedures. Neither the judge nor the opposing party is under any obligation to correct your mistakes or excuse noncompliance with the law, and neither the judge nor the other attorneys can provide you with legal advice or tell you what you should do.
Here at Zinda Law Group, we believe that we provide a value to our clients. When they choose to hire us, we bring with us our years of experience in representing bus accident victims and other personal injury victims. This enables us to act swiftly and decisively in filing motions to preserve evidence, locating and deposing important witnesses, and advising clients on the steps they need to take to best protect their legal rights. Learn how our knowledge and experience can help you in your injury case by contacting us at (800) 863-5312 today.