When You Need A Lawyer & When You Don’t


A common Google search is “do I need a lawyer?” Whatever legal issue someone is facing, that is one of the first questions that pops into their mind. So, how do you decide whether or not to hire a lawyer?

As a law firm, we believe in the power of representation. For us, it’s not just a slogan but a theory that everyone deserves to be empowered by a legal team who has their back. We lean toward the side of caution on most legal issues in Alabama and recommend hiring a lawyer, but we do understand there are some situations where saving money may be preferred. We handle criminal law, personal injury, and family law cases and will look at this question through the lens of those practice areas.

You Need a Lawyer in Any Criminal Defense Case

Criminal charges put your entire future at risk. Even what seems like a “minor” misdemeanor can put up walls that you can’t imagine today. Job searches can be hindered, love lives can be complicated, social lives can be strained, and more.

When you are facing criminal charges, you should hire an attorney. Even criminal defense attorneys will generally hire separate legal teams to handle their own cases if they end up in trouble with the law. The prosecution is specifically trained and educated to prove your guilt, even if you are completely innocent. Thinking you don’t need a lawyer because you’re innocent could punch you a one-way ticket to a guilty verdict.

You Don’t Always Need a Lawyer to Fight a Traffic Ticket

There is an element of guilty versus innocent in traffic court, but the stakes are much lower. A speeding ticket or similar traffic infraction will generally not put your future at risk unless you are a repeat offender or there are additional circumstances that escalate your case to criminal court.

If you know you are guilty and have no way out of it, you should save the money you would have otherwise spent and accept the fine. There is a significant financial benefit to hiring an attorney in cases where you want to plead down or defeat your ticket, however. Keeping insurance costs low, saving points off your license, and other financial factors can build up if you don’t work with an experienced attorney.

You Need a Lawyer for a Contested Divorce

Your marriage may not have been easy. A contested divorce is not going to be much easier. When there are significant assets, child custody, child support, and spousal support on the line, it’s important to have an experienced lawyer on your side.

You Don’t Always Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce

If you and your spouse are able to agree on the terms of your divorce, you may not need an attorney. The courts will appreciate the work you both have done to dissolve your marriage in an amicable manner.

However, be aware that the court does not have to accept the terms the two of you have come up with, so if the court asks you to go back to the drawing board you may need to hire an attorney. We frequently handle these cases to ensure

 the process goes smoothly and our clients aren’t being deceived by their spouse.

You Need a Lawyer if Your Insurance Claim is Denied or Underpaid

When you suffer a personal injury and have insurance, your insurance company should be helping you with medical bills and other costs. Unfortunately, these companies will often do whatever it takes to deny a claim and keep their money in their pockets.

An experienced personal injury attorney w

ill be able to fight back against the insurance companies. Experienced attorneys like John M. Totten have enough experience to get quick and satisfactory settlements from insurance companies who have done wrong by their customers.

You Don’t Always Need a Lawyer for Your Initial Insurance Claim

When you first suffer a personal injury and file your claim, you may be able to do so yourself. The information about deadlines to file and how to file is all available online and through your insurance company. You need to be careful to fulfill the necessary requirements, but the initial claim should not require the help of an attorney.

However, many claims get tripped up because the initial filing was inaccurate or missed certain deadlines. Having an attorney by your side from the beginning allows you to have peace of mind over the process. If you are ever unsure about your claim, it’s best to work with an attorney.

Let Us Know When You Need a Lawyer

None of this is to say we would ever refuse a case if a client has a case worth fighting for. We believe in the power of representation in Alabama and are here when you need it.

John M. Totten