Attorney Ben Schwartz answers a viewer’s question that would like to hire a lawyer for his case, but he is concerned because in the past hiring an attorney has made things worse, not better.
Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,
Today we are going to take a question from a viewer, Tom in Middletown, Delaware. He wrote in and said, “I would like to hire an attorney for my case, but I’m concerned because in the past hiring an attorney has made things worse, not better.” I thought this is a very interesting question. Does hiring a lawyer make your case worse, not better? This issue, this topic has come up in many cases over many years, in many types of cases as well.
I will give you some examples just to give you some context. In criminal cases, let’s say that you receive a phone call from the police, and they say, “Tom we would like you to come down to the station for questioning about something that may have happened. Now, the police want you to come in, they want you to respond to questioning. They want you to waive your Miranda Rights, your right to remain silent, your right to have an attorney present. They want you to waive your rights and they want you to talk. The reason they want to do that is, why? They want to do that because they already have evidence to suggest that you’re implicated in some sort of crime and they want to make it easy on themselves to prove the case by getting a confession.
So, when the police call you in for questioning you can assume, they want to get a confession out of you. It makes life easy for them and for the prosecutors in a criminal case. I’ve had numerous people who contact me about a criminal case, and they tell me I’ve been asked to come in for questioning. After they hire me, I contact the police and I say, “my client is not coming in for questioning” and so the police say, “go ahead and have your client turn themselves in, we’ve got an arrest warrant.”
Now from the client’s perspective, it looks like by hiring a lawyer they got themselves arrested. Because as soon as they hired the lawyer and the lawyer shut down the questioning, what happened? They got arrested but, in reality, they were going to get arrested anyway. The police were just asking them to come in for questioning to see if they could sew up the case with a confession. It’s not that hiring the lawyer gets you arrested, that doesn’t go into the equation, that doesn’t go into the consideration. If you’re going to get arrested, you’re going to get arrested because they have some other evidence other than your own confession that they are going to base the criminal charges off of. That has come up for me time and time over the years.
Another example is that in let’s say workers’ comp, on-the-job injury cases, workers’ comp cases people are concerned that something bad is going to happen to them if they hire a lawyer for their workers’ compensation case. I’ll give you an example, we recently had a case where the client was really severely injured after a work-related, on-the-job accident and they were unable to return to work in their job. They’re never going to go back to work in that job because it requires heavy physical activities. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t go to work in any job, just means they can’t go to work in that job.
They were out of work and their workers’ compensation insurance company was paying their lost wages and they came to us seeking legal advice, wanting to know their rights. The lady said, “I’m concerned about hiring a lawyer because I don’t want the workers’ comp to cut off my lost wage payments. If they cut off my lost wage payments, I’m going to have to find a job doing something else, doing something that I can do with my injuries.”
So, my point to her was, they’re not going to cut off your lost wages because you hired a lawyer. They are going to cut off your lost wages because there are jobs in the marketplace that you acknowledge you could do. In workers’ comp, they don’t pay you lost wages forever just because you couldn’t do your job. You would have to be out of work, at least in the state where I handle workers’ comp, Delaware. You have to be out of work and unable to work in any job in order to collect what’s called total disability lost wages.
So, that’s another good example that comes up very frequently in that context of a situation where it looks like by hiring a lawyer, you may be compelling the insurance company to take action to cut off your lost wages. When in reality, you are getting your lost wages cut off, it’s coming down the pike anyways, and you can either hire a lawyer sooner or you can wait for the lost wages to get cut off and then hire a lawyer. Either way, hiring a lawyer isn’t related, it isn’t the cause of that bad thing that’s going to happen.
Those are just two examples but I see these types of examples coming up in all different types of scenarios and I guess my point is for Tom, who sent us the email, no, hiring a lawyer does not cause something bad to happen in the case. You have to stand back and you have to look at the entire case and figure out is something bad going to happen in this case. Is it just coincidental that it’s going to happen if I have an attorney that helped represent me? I think if you want my two cents if you want my real advice if you are dealing with a legal issue whether it’s a criminal issue or a personal injury or workers’ compensation issue if you’re dealing with a legal and you’re not an attorney in practice in that area, substantive area of practice in that geographic area, you really ought to go to an attorney and get yourself a consultation. Find out what your legal rights are and ask the attorney, in your particular case, what are the pros and what are the cons of hiring an attorney to represent me? What does it cost? What is the potential risk that I face by doing this? That way you can make an intelligent, informed decision, a decision that’s tailored to the facts and the law in your case.
Tom, I hope that answers your question. I thought it was a very insightful question. If you’re watching this video and you have questions that pertain in some way to legal practice or the law or your rights under the law, please send me an email, I’d love to do a video about your question or topic. Thanks for watching!