Interviewer: In Civil Law matters, at what point does an attorney come into play? What are the advantages of hiring an attorney?
Robert Cummings: It depends on the subject matter. So, if you are in a car wreck, I would strongly encourage people to speak with an attorney within the first 72 hours, if not sooner. Some believe that attorneys are not necessary because they cost too much money and only frustrate the process. My experience, however, is that many attorneys are great people who only want to help their clients. Yes, attorneys cost money. But a good attorney knows the process and will do everything in his or her power to assist the client in achieving the best outcome possible.
An Attorney can Successfully Navigate the Process and Fulfill the Requirements of a Civil Law Case
One advantage in personal injury cases is that a seasoned attorney can assist in properly valuing your claim. For example, if you have a broken wrist, there are attorneys that know what the value of that wrist is and what you stand to make at trial. The insurance company might come to you and say the money owed for a broken wrist is “x.” The lawyer, however, may know, based upon experience or independent investigation, that the amount that should be paid by a defendant for a broken wrist is more than “x.” Thus, the advantage of having an attorney is the advantage of having experience, knowledge, and expertise that ultimately adds value to the attorney’s client’s case.
At the same time, hiring an attorney can make the overall process much more efficient and easy for the client. Navigating the process, working with adjustors, filing complaints, processing paperwork all takes time. And a person can spend a lot of time merely learning the process, when an attorney that already knows the process could do it quicker and more efficiently. So, hiring an attorney on a personal injury accident early on can definitely be advantageous in several regards.
Regular Consultation with an Attorney Can Save Business Clients from Potential Future Liability
On business disputes, it can be touchy. If you are involved in a business or business transactions, having an attorney that you can talk to and consult with on regular basis can save money down the road. That is where the penny-wise pound-foolish comes in. A lot of times, people will call when a plaintiff reaches out and says, “We are going to sue you.” The defendant says, “Oh, I did not do anything wrong.” The attorney can look at the situation and say, “No. There is potentially some liability here, and there are things that could have been done to avoid this liability from the outset.” But, sometimes you get the case as it comes to you, and you have to deal with those facts regardless. Thus, I think with business clients, it is better to consult an attorney sooner and more often to try to cut off or nip in the bud potential liability down the road. In other words, an attorney can save money in the long-run.
The Overall Benefit of Retaining an Attorney is Utilizing His / Her Vast Array of Knowledge and Experience
So, I would say, overall, the benefit that hiring an attorney brings is bringing experience and knowledge. A lot of times, attorneys have seen similar types of situations over and over again, and the attorney can therefore give you the proper kind of game theory analysis of what your options are, or what the potential outcomes are, and what the high side is and what the low side is on liability or both recovery. That is what attorneys are trained to do in law school.