This article's purpose is to provide information regarding when and why you should hire a lawyer.
At McMullin Injury Law, we handle personal injury law. Personal Injury law is only one small sliver of the legal problems that people might have that would require an attorney.
This article will educate the reader as to the different types of law that lawyers practice and give examples of situations that would require those types of lawyers.
When Do You Need a Lawyer?
1. Business Issues
One of the most common reasons that people hire attorneys is for business issues.
Whether that is a business formation, writing contracts for business to business relationships, or business to consumer relationships.
A business owner may also need to hire litigators to dispute contracts between businesses or between businesses and consumers.
Credit collections and those types of things also fall under the umbrella of things a business attorney might do.
Forming a Business Entity
It's very important when you are forming a business entity to have it done by an attorney who is familiar with those processes that can not only form the entity correctly but give you the counsel that you need as you do so.
This is necessary to have you set up properly for taxation issues, growth issues, and ownership issues, as well as whatever other legal issues, might arise.
An attorney will help you determine if your business should be an LLC (limited liability company) or a corporation. Your attorney will also be able to help you understand your business and provide you with standard contracts for clients and help you understand contracts that you are entering into as well.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Other circumstances that a business might hire attorneys would be when they are considering a merger or an acquisition of another company.
They might need help understanding zoning compliance or they might need one that understands how to register federal trademarks and copyright protections on products and services that a company may produce.
An attorney's expertise in understanding the legal terms and ins and outs of leases would be valuable when negotiating for a new office space or expansion.
In addition, a knowledgeable attorney in this field would be able to anticipate potential problems in a new lease and should be able to provide a standard "tenant's addendum" that can be added as an addendum to any printed lease.
2. Estate Planning
Estate planning is the second most common reason that people get an attorney.
Mostly what this means is protecting one's assets for the future. As people are advancing in years or accumulating assets they want to have a plan in place for what happens with all that they have accumulated in the event that they pass.
They want to be sure that their wealth and assets are protected when they are gone. Everyone will eventually pass away so this planning is very wise.
If you don't have some type of plan in place that meets all the legal requirements in the state that you live in, your belongings will pass through intestacy, which is just a default state process. If this happens you may have things going to people that you do not intend them to go to.
Effective estate planning will prevent this from happening. In the event of a death, the transfer of wealth to other family members will be efficient and private without the need for courts and lawyers and the assets will be free of estate taxation as well.
Estate planning could also include providing for elderly parents or a disabled family member or children of a previous marriage. In addition, trusts, wills, and family limited partnerships can be used to eliminate estate taxes and still meet the needs of the client and his posterity.
3. Family Issues
The third most common reason people hire attorneys is for family law issues. The most common need for this type of lawyer would be divorce.
Sometimes after a divorce, the need arises for modification of the original divorce decree. These types of changes might include visitation rights, child custody, collection of child support, spousal support, or division of property.
Family law attorneys also handle cases involving paternity and guardianship.
The area of guardianship would apply in several situations. One example would be if you were caring for someone else's child other than an agency-placed foster child.
If you are providing care for a child whose parents are unable or unwilling to provide that care, establishing legal guardianship would help you make decisions concerning the child when the parents cannot or should not.
This guardianship does not guarantee that the parent cannot come and take the child but it certainly helps establish that the welfare of the child is your responsibility.
Another example of the need for guardianship would be a case of a person being incapacitated by injury or disability. This could be the result of an accident, disease, mental or physical disabilities, or aging.
The purpose of guardianship is to appoint a responsible adult to make decisions about care, finances, and other life decisions for a person who is incapable of making those decisions on their own. The role of a guardian is to facilitate the independence and self-reliance of the person they are acting on behalf of.
An example of this would be a person that suffers a coma after a serious accident. The coma victim will need someone to act on their behalf regarding medical treatment and other financial and non-financial decisions.
Adoption is also a matter that falls under the category of family law. Adopting a child is a wonderful life event that is accompanied by legal matters that will require professional help to successfully navigate.
People hire attorneys for that all the time. A family law attorney can help you negotiate fair terms with the birth parents as well as representing you in court hearings and communicating with adoption agencies on your behalf.
Whether you are planning a local adoption with an agency or foreign adoption, an experienced family law attorney will be able to make sure that your documents are in order and you and the child are protected by the law.
Still, other cases for the family law arena where you might hire attorneys would be cases involving juvenile delinquency, child rights, and emancipation.
Emancipation would be a minor (under the age of 18) who wishes to be legally responsible for him/herself. A situation that might lead to this desire would be if the minor were married or the parents are abusive, or if they have any objection to the parent's living situation or they have been kicked out of their parent's home.
The laws regarding emancipation differ from state to state and so it would be wise to counsel with an attorney to review the laws that pertain to your particular situation.
4. Being Charged with a Crime
Criminal law is the fourth most common reason that people hire attorneys. If a person is being charged with a crime then they would need an attorney that handles criminal law.
Public Defense Attorneys
For people who cannot afford an attorney in the United States, they can actually have one appointed for them.
Those attorneys are called public defenders and their services are free to the defendant.
They are paid by the government to come and represent people that cannot afford their own criminal defense attorney. Most of these lawyers have extensive prior experience with the judges and the prosecuting attorneys that will try your case.
They have likely negotiated with them on many prior cases. Usually, they are backed by offices that have investigators and researchers on staff that can work on your behalf. They also have other resources available to them to assist indigent defendants.
Private Criminal Defense Attorney
Those who can afford their own attorney will probably be hiring a private criminal defense attorney.
One advantage to hiring one's own attorney to represent them is that their caseload may not be quite as full as a public defender and so the defendant may receive more individualized and focused representation.
Also because they are being paid by you, they may prioritize more time to devote to your defense. In either case, the law provides for a defendant to receive fair representation in a court of law in matters regarding criminal charges.
5. One Person Hurts Another
The fifth most common reason that people hire attorneys is when one person hurts another. These types of cases are civil matters.
A crime has not been committed but rather an accident or negligence has occurred. These are the type of cases that we handle at McMullin Injury Law.
In the event of most accidents, people don't hurt each other on purpose and so it's not a crime. Jail time is not a punishment for an accident.
The at-fault person is not charged with any felonies or misdemeanors. Instead, a civil wrong is referred to as a tort.
What is a Tort?
A tort is a wrongful act or an infringement of a right leading to civil legal liability. In other words, the injured party has the right to be made whole by the person responsible for the accident.
A personal injury attorney's job would be to see that his client received a sufficient settlement to meet their needs resulting from an accident. These needs may include payment of medical bills, repairs or replacement of a vehicle or other property damage, and compensation for lost wages or compensation for lost capacity to function in normal, everyday activities.
In the case of an automobile accident, an attorney would advise his client about the best way to proceed if the involved insurance company is not offering a fair and reasonable settlement or denying the claim.
Personal injury attorneys are only one branch of civil law. Medical malpractice attorneys would be another.
These attorneys represent cases where clients have been injured through mistakes or negligence by physicians.
In a case of this type, there will be a need to prove a causal link between the injury and the measurable harm to the patient. A lawyer experienced with malpractice cases could help a client navigate through the many laws that apply to this situation and determine if they really do have a case.
Other Areas of Practice
There are several areas within civil law wherein the attorneys litigate cases but it all typically comes down to money or equity.
Personal injury attorneys are really representing cases about damages and rights and where the money should go rather than whether or not one person should go to jail or who is guilty of a crime.
Personal injury law seeks resolution for individuals who have been hurt through no fault of their own.
Finding an Attorney You Can Count on
In review, this article has attempted to provide a brief overview of the different reasons people hire attorneys and the specialized types of services those attorneys can provide.
Quite often, when the need arises to hire an attorney, it is under duress. For this reason, it is good to have a relationship with an attorney that can either help you with your present needs or refer you to someone that can.
In St. George, many people hire attorneys in every one of these categories that are very qualified to help you with all your legal needs.
McMullin Injury Law Can Help
If you are in need of an attorney here in St. George, even it's something that we don't practice here at McMullin Injury Law, we are happy to chat with you about your problem, and give you some general guidance upfront and then refer you to several strong options for attorneys that practice law in the arena that you really need.
Attorneys tend to have working relationships with other attorneys in town and this benefits those in need of legal services.
At McMullin Injury Law, our attorneys strive to maintain strong relationships with several attorneys in every one of these fields of law. We can help you find your way to professional legal representation that can handle your legal matter appropriately.