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3 Reasons Not to Source Legal Advice From the Internet

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The internet is filled with advice; some good, some bad. The internet can be a good resource if you’re looking for advice on clothes, hair, or how to be a good neighbor. These subjects are simple enough that most people will quickly identify bad advice and brush it aside. For instance, if an article instructs you to egg your neighbor’s house to welcome them into the neighborhood, most people will recognize that as bad advice. Likewise, if an article tells you suspenders are in fashion and you disagree, you can ignore that advice and no harm is done.

Legal advice, on the other hand, isn’t black-and-white, and trusting advice found online can do much harm. When you don’t understand the law from a lawyer’s perspective, you have no way of filtering out bad advice. Unlike advice on how to be a good neighbor, legal matters aren’t straight forward.

1. Similar cases may not apply to your circumstances

Many advice givers share their personal experiences in the legal system but fail to understand their experiences may not apply to anyone else’s case. Every case has unique circumstances that determine the final outcome. There is no uniform outcome for each crime and there isn’t a formula that can predict an outcome.

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2. Legal cases are complex

Even cases with matching circumstances don’t turn out the same. The complexity of the legal system extends into the realm of human interpretation and decisions made by judges and juries. For instance, if you share fault in a fatal car accident and a judge doesn’t feel like you’re remorseful, they might give you a harsher sentence than the other at-fault parties. 

Another example of the complexity of legal cases is seen with comparative negligence. Texas, for example, adheres to a modified comparative negligence statute. To learn more about this statute, visit Crain Lewis Brogdon’s website. If you’re partially responsible for your own injuries, you can pursue a claim, but compensation will be reduced in proportion to your liability. However, if you’re found to be more than 50% at fault, you can’t seek compensation for your injuries. That means you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit. You may have read about people with your exact injuries recovering hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they didn’t share more than 50% liability for their injuries.

Looking for cases similar to yours can give you hope for a favorable outcome, but it won’t tell you what will happen in reality.

3. You’ll be tempted to represent yourself

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If your internet research leads you to believe your case is an easy win, you might be tempted to pursue your lawsuit pro se (self-representation). This is a bad idea; you’ll be in over your head. Some people do successfully represent themselves in court but not usually in criminal matters. 

4. People on the internet love to be right

You know how it goes on the internet. Everyone is always right. People love giving advice online. Some people give sincere advice, but others just like to tell people what to do. Maybe they had a cousin or an uncle who went through a similar situation and they want to share all the wisdom they’ve gained from watching it all godown.

You never know who you’re talking to online. People can give you advice that sounds perfectly sound but isn’t. One well-known example is the man who called 30 divorce lawyers in his town just to prevent his wife from being able to hire any of them. A stranger on Reddit told him a lawyer can’t represent his ex if he’s discussed their marriage with them. He was forced to cover a portion of her attorney fees for an abuse of process and an attempt to interfere with justice. 

Do you really want the outcome of your case to be determined by advice taken from a stranger?

You need an attorney for a personal injury lawsuit

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Without a lawyer, you won’t know how to defend yourself in unexpected circumstances. For example, if the court finds you to be the sole cause of a fatal accident, instead of compensation, you might receive a harsh punishment including a criminal conviction. 

You need an attorney if you’re going to file a personal injury claim. While you might believe you’re not at fault in any way, you could be found partially responsible. Without a lawyer to fight for you, your chances at winning a decent amount of compensation are slim.