During the course of my practice, I have noticed that people delay in calling an attorney for help because:
- They think they can resolve the matter on their own (Do It Yourself);
- They feel that “They are not the type of person to sue;”
- They are afraid of the cost, including a possible consultation fee; and
- They simply want to ignore the issue and hope it goes away on its own.
I would like to address each issue briefly below to explain why these positions or mindsets should not inhibit you from obtaining legal advice at the beginning of your case.
Do it Yourself
There is no doubt that the internet is full of legal sites that offer free “legal advice” on matters ranging from divorce, estate planning, foreclosures, personal injury claims and even wrongful death accidents. Unfortunately, much of this free advice is not tailored to your particular situation, your state laws and/or may be outdated or even provided by someone who is not an attorney. The internet should be used as starting point to familiarize yourself with the issues involved so that you can ask educated questions when you speak with an attorney. The internet should not be used to form the basis of your decision and/or to create a strategy plan, it should only be used as a research tool and a starting point. Similarly, seeking advice from friends, family members and co-workers is a great way to become familiar with similar issues but their advice should not be used in place of a licensed professional who specializes in those types of matters.
If you wake up in the morning and your toe has turned black and blue, you have lost feeling in it and it has swollen to three times its regular size and it is extremely painful, are you going to “Do it yourself?” Sure, you may go to WebMD to get an idea of what may be wrong, but you are doing to schedule an appointment with a doctor, immediately. You are not going to wait three months and to see what happens. Legal cases should be treated in a similar fashion, seek general background information on-line, but rely on a true licensed professional to handle the matter.
Not the Type to Sue
In my practice, I come across clients from all socioeconomic backgrounds that feel the same way, they do not want to sue someone. In fact, that is generally the first thing they tell me: “I am not the type to sue.” I understand and appreciate that mindset. In fact, I don’t like to sue people or companies either. I prefer to force them to be reasonable and reasonably compensate my clients BEFORE any lawsuit has to be filed in court. Unfortunately, many people delay in getting legal advice until it is too late and then they are forced to file a lawsuit. Many causes of action (types of cases) have specific statutes of limitations (time periods) in which the case has to be settled and/or filed in court.
If a potential client waits too long to get the legal advice they need because “they are not the type to sue,” ironically, that is exactly what they may be forced to do because there may not be enough time to build up the case properly for settlement.
I have learned that if I can get involved with a case at the very early stages and implement a case plan at that early stage, over 90% of those cases get resolved without going to trial. Similarly, of the few cases that do end up in court, over 90% of those cases get resolved prior to trial, so long as I have had sufficient time to execute the case plan. Just because you hire an attorney, it does not mean you have to sue anyone. Hiring an attorney early on can help ensure that you never have to go to court.
You should also keep in mind that all consultations with an attorney are confidential. There is no need to feel embarrassed or reluctant. Your attorney is there to give you straight forward answers and to provide you guidance.
I cannot afford an Attorney.
That may be true. If an attorney is quoting you a sizeable retainer on top of a healthy hourly rate, you may not be able to afford him or her. However, many attorneys (such as myself) frequently offer free initial consultations on a variety of cases so there is literally no reason not to seek the advice of counsel immediately.
It will go away.
It may, but I doubt it. If you are receiving letters from attorneys, court orders, collection notices, foreclosure notices, eviction documents, you need to seek legal help. Ignoring the problem only makes it much worse down the road. It is generally best to address these types of an issue immediately and you may be surprised to find out an attorney may have an agreeable solution for you.