If you were injured by another party but only suffered a few thousand dollars in losses and damages, you may be better served by taking your case to small claims court where it will typically be resolved much faster. You may be wondering, though, whether you can still have an attorney represent you in the case. With the exception of a handful of states, you can enlist the help of a lawyer, but here are two things you should consider before you do so.
The Award vs. The Attorney's Fees
The average attorney charges between $150 to $500 per hour for their services, depending on where you live and the complexity of the case. Thus, the first thing you want to determine is whether it's cost effective to hire a lawyer to represent you in small claims court where awards tend to be small.
For instance, you may not want to get an attorney if the most you'll get from the case is $1,000 and the lawyer charges $200 per hour to represent you and it takes two to three hours to manage your case. On the other hand, it may be worth the fee if you stand to receive $10,000 from the defendant if you win.
This is also true even the attorney charges on a contingency basis where he or she takes a percentage of your court award (usually around 35 percent). Although the attorney may only take $350 of a $1,000 award for his or her fee, you may still have to pay administrative and court costs that further eat up your windfall.
When discussing your case with an attorney, be certain you understand how much the final bill will be so you can determine if you actually win enough to cover the costs and your damages.
Is the Defendant a Person or Corporation?
Another thing to consider is whether the defendant is an individual or a corporation. These two entities approach court cases in different ways. An individual is less likely to hire an attorney for a small claims case, especially if the amount is small. So, you won't be at any disadvantage if you decide to represent yourself.
On the other hand, corporations almost always have lawyers represent them, even with small cases. Additionally, some states require companies to be represented by an attorney. In either situation, you will be at a distinct disadvantage if you decide to go it alone because an attorney will be more familiar with the law and may get your case dismissed before you have a chance to open your mouth.
If you suspect your opponent will have representation in the court, then you may want to get a lawyer on your side too. At the very least, you should consult with an attorney for advice on the best strategy to use to win your case.
For help with your personal injury lawsuit, contact a local law firm like Philpot Law Firm Pa.