If you're involved in a court case in Georgia -- or want to file one -- you have the right to represent yourself. Only criminal defendants without adequate funds are entitled to a free, court-appointed lawyer in the United States. Legal aid agencies offer assistance in a limited number of civil (non-criminal) cases to persons who have very little or no income. Other Atlanta lawyers must be paid fees, either from your own funds, or, if you are a plaintiff in an injury case, from the amount recovered for you by your Atlanta injury attorney. But before you decide to be your own lawyer -- which the courts call a pro se or pro per litigant -- it's important to understand what the job requires. Acting as your own lawyer requires you to be good at attending to details, understanding complicated or bureaucratic rules and public speaking.
If you know you're not good at those things, or your case is complicated or emotional, you should seriously consider finding an attorney. When Should I Represent Myself? Regardless of the case, not everyone has the right skills, circumstances or personality to be their own lawyer. In order to represent yourself, you need to be able to: ? Understand and follow directions exactly. ? Meet deadlines, be on time and stay very organized.
? Understand the laws behind your case. ? Do legal research on issues related to your case. ? Speak in public. ? Keep your cool in stressful situations. ? Take enough time out of your schedule to do thorough research and appear in court several times.
Good types of cases for representing yourself include: ? When you are part of a small claims case -- a lawsuit in magistrate court that asks for $15,000 or less. Georgia's magistrate court system is designed for pro se litigants. ? Very simple matters that don't require much research or courtroom time, such as a name change or an uncontested divorce with no children, no alimony, and no significant property. Situations where you usually should not represent yourself include: ? Any criminal case. ? Cases involving a substantial amount of legal research.
? Cases with complicated or controversial facts, like a serious injury case. ? Cases where a detailed investigation is needed ? Cases where, by law, expert testimony will be necessary. ? Any case where the balance of power is heavily tilted toward the other side, such as suits involving an insurance company or corporation, or a divorce in which one spouse is abusive.
? A case where an experienced attorney can recover more for you than you can recover for yourself, even after attorney's fees are paid. In a typical accident case, the insurance company of the person at fault will generally settle with a victim represented by an attorney for much more than the insurance company would ever offer the victim who is representing himself or herself. This is because the insurance company knows the victim is not a trained, experienced accident attorney, and therefore the victim won't stand a chance in court against skilled insurance defense attorneys. Need Help with a Georgia Personal Injury Case? If you're considering representing yourself in a Georgia lawsuit over a serious injury, call Atlanta Injury Lawyers Stokes & Kopitsky for a free, no-obligation consultation. Stokes & Koptisky are an Atlanta-based law firm specializing in representing people who were seriously hurt because of the fault of another. Representing individuals in auto, truck, and motorcycle accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, and work injury Atlanta, including cases involving serious brain injuries and wrongful deaths, and working for a contingency fee, means your legal fees are paid only from the amounts recovered for you.
For an evaluation of your case from an experienced legal professional, call Stokes & Kopitsky today at 1-800-552-9200, or (404) 892-0011 in Atlanta. Or, you can fill out a confidential online consultation form, just visit www.stokesinjurylawyers.com.
Atlanta accident lawyers Stokes and Kopitsky have successfully helped hundreds of injured clients recover payment for insurance claims, medical bills, lost pay, pain and suffering, and more. Please call us for a free consultation.