Let’s face it: no one wants to need a lawyer. But chances are that most people will need a lawyer at least one point in their lives.
Oftentimes, you might need a lawyer and not even know it. Determining when you need a lawyer can be difficult to discern, but we’ve put together the top 10 situations when you should consider one:
1. You are being sued
No matter what you’re being sued for, if someone has hired an attorney to sue you, you will be at a great disadvantage if you try to go up against an attorney representing your adversary. Even experienced attorneys typically do not represent themselves in court.
If you’re being sued, it is difficult to remove emotions and bias from your argument in front of a judge and jury, which is why even a solid case can quickly unravel without the help of a trained and emotionally detached attorney.
2. You suffered an injury
If you were injured by an insured party, whether whether the injury was from a vehicular accident, workplace accident, or you have some other type of personal injury claim, the other party’s insurance company will act fast to try and settle your claim as quickly as possible. When you’re in a situation like this, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer before you speak to a single insurance company representative.
There are lawyers who do nothing more than specialize in these types of claims. There are reasons for this and you may be entitled to a significant amount of compensation for your injuries.
3. You’ve been denied a disability claim at work
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue their employer for the tort of negligence.
If you’ve been injured at work, it is common that your disability claim will be denied the first time around. This is because employers know a certain percentage of people will simply accept what they’re told and give up on the claims process. On the other hand, if an employer is quick to offer worker’s compensation benefits to you, it may be because they know that they may be held substantially more liable for your injury if you’re given the opportunity to sue them.
This is why you need to seek a lawyer immediately after a workplace injury. These attorneys get paid on a contingency fee basis so there are no up-front costs for you.
4. You have a lot to lose
If you stand to lose a great deal of money, your property, or your freedom, find a lawyer.
5. You are being accused of a crime
Whether you are guilty or innocent, you will need a lawyer who is knowledgeable in protecting your rights so that you are defended as well as possible.
6. You’re getting a divorce
If there are disagreements over assets or children, if there are allegations of domestic violence, or if you have a sufficiently complex financial situation so that the division of retirement benefits or serious tax considerations come into play, you will need legal assistance. In some states, even if you are in agreement, or close to agreement, you can both hire one lawyer to assist you in getting through the legal process.
Also read: Choosing Divorce Lawyers
7. You’re adopting a child
Adopting a child is an important matter with many potential complications, and an attorney who specializes in adoption will assure things are done right.
Adoption law is a specialty and not all family law attorneys have the expertise to oversee and finalize an adoption. You can find licensed adoption attorneys at www.adoptionattorneys.org which lists attorneys who have been vetted by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and have a minimum amount of related adoption experience.
8. You need a legal contract
If you need to set up a complex business organization (multiple entities), have complex tax matters, need to file for a patent, have an intellectual property dispute, or become involved in litigation over a breach of contract, hire a lawyer who specializes in business law.
It is also essential that you understand the terms of any contract you are asked to sign. If you don’t understand the terms, or how to prepare a contract, consult a lawyer.
9. You need to declare bankruptcy
In the United States, it is not possible to declare bankruptcy without a lawyer. In general, the difficulty of your bankruptcy will depend upon the facts of your case and whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
One way to find out if you have a good bankruptcy attorney is to to ask whether the lawyer has represented clients in similar situations to yours in the past.
10. You’ve been wrongfully fired
Unless you have an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement that mandates a certain amount of notice, it’s legal for your employer to fire you without notice.
However, it IS illegal for employers to discriminate in hiring, firing or promotion on the basis of:
- Sex or Gender
- Race or Color
- National Origin
- Age (over 40, per federal law, although some states offer protections for workers younger than age 40)
- Genetic Information
- Workers can also sue or file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if they are sexually harassed at work, fired for being a whistleblower, are forced to resign, or made to endure a hostile work environment.
Getting help from a skilled lawyer isn’t generally cheap and most legal proceedings will take a considerable amount of time. However, don’t be scared of hiring a lawyer when the situation warrants it. It may end up being much more costly if you ignore the problem or try to represent yourself.
Also read: What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need?