Do-it-Yourself Disasters: Don’t Let This Be You
Sometimes doing it yourself is a good thing. If the “thing” involves low risk and is within your means then shoot for the moon. But if the “thing” is an endeavor or project with which you have little familiarity and there is a significant risk perhaps it is best to exercise some discretion and get some help. Lawsuits can be one of those do-it-yourself projects that go wrong. Too often they go quite wrong.
On a weekly basis I am contacted by people who tried to handle situations on their own but somehow things got beyond what they could control or even truly understand. These calls put me in the place of having to salvage a situation and try to prevent further damage from occurring. Whether this damage control is effective is something that has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes I can help turn things around but far too often the damage is already done.
One notable and recurring example of do-it-yourself lawyering gone wrong is failing to timely file the appropriate pleadings or documents when one has a meritorious claim or defense in a lawsuit. The applicable rules of procedure can be unkind when one fails to comply and this can mean the difference between winning and losing one’s case. Another common example of do-it-yourself damage is when a consumer fails to keep the proper documentation and evidence needed to prove her case. This failure usually stems from not knowing what items may be significant and for what reasons. The common thread in my two examples are a lack of knowledge. This is not to demean the intelligence of the individual who may have made the misstep. Instead it is just a matter of emphasizing the importance of proper preparation and handling of one’s affairs and sometimes that involves consulting someone with more knowledge and experience than yourself.
An attorney-client consultation can possibly salvage your do-it-yourself lawsuit missteps. In fact, if you consult with a lawyer early enough you may even be able to avoid the time and expense of a lawsuit. The key is to consult a lawyer as soon as you even think an issue may arise. Depending on the legal issues involved, a consultation may be free and may represent some of the best money you never spent yet the best time you have spent. If you seek a free consultation on a civil matter or traffic citation (in Guilford, Forsyth, Randolph, and Chatham counties) feel free to contact the O’Neal Law Office.