You absolutely have the right to represent yourself in district court without a personal injury lawyer. If you are not sure if you need or want a personal injury lawyer, we suggest that you get a brief consult with one before making your final decision. Many personal injury lawyers now offer “limited scope” services, so you can pay for just the consult and not hire the personal injury lawyer for full representation. Here at the Heslin Law Firm, we will give you a free consultation to see whether or not you have a case.
A person who goes to court without being represented by a Philadelphia-based personal injury lawyer is called “self-represented” or “pro se.” Pro se is a Latin term that means “for oneself.”
You may need a personal injury lawyer if:
- You want legal advice.
- You do not fully understand papers you received from the other party or from the court. (Court administration may be able to answer some questions for you.)
- You cannot afford to lose your case.
- You have a complicated case.
- You want to appeal a case.
- You are charged with a crime.
- You want to sue someone, but you don’t know the legal theory or basis for your claim.
You may not need a personal injury lawyer if:
- You understand your case well enough to explain it to a judge.
- You don’t get nervous speaking in a courtroom.
- You are organized and keep accurate records.
- You can write neatly or type well.
- You will be able to dedicate time to prepare papers, make copies, learn the required steps, file papers with the court, do legal research and attend court hearings.
- You have the time to respond to papers you receive from the other party.
- You are able to read, understand, and respond promptly to all papers you get from the Court.
- Your case is somewhat simple and no one will come forward to argue against what you want.
- You are comfortable negotiating with the other side or their lawyer, if represented.
- You understand your state laws and court rules.
You also have the option of going to conciliation court without representation, which handles small cases such as:
- Claims by creditors for unpaid debts
- Claims by employees for unpaid wages
- Claims by tenants for return of security deposits
- Claims by landlords for damage to property
- Claims about the possession or ownership of personal property valued at $10,000 or less
This is a great option if you have a smaller case with some extra time to spare and don’t have the money to afford a lawyer.