Study Finds That Americans Don't Think They Have Legal Issues...and They Pay For It

In 1814, Henry Kitt (among others throughout history) wrote, "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." An American Bar Foundation study provides proof that more Americans are being just that foolish. Looking at a list of 12 common types of civil justice issues, including employment disputes, financial and housing matters, relationship breakdowns and their aftermath, and personal injury, the study found that more often, individuals failed to turn to lawyers and courts to help them find solutions.

It isn't just about the cost of retaining legal help. Mainly, the problem of education exists - individuals just don't understand these difficult situations to be valid legal matters.

Much like mental illness may be easily diagnosed by a psychologist; legal problems and the defining of them are easily done by legally trained professionals. The regular Joe-On-The-Street may not (read: probably doesn't) have any legal training and will abide by today's online media-driven mantra - "If I can do it by myself, so can you!" The Internet, and YouTube's portion of it, is full of self-help areas, ranging from how to tune a piano to how to write and file a will. In the past, an expert was someone that lived over 50 miles away. Now, the expert is the first one to post a Blog about it, create a Webpage or make a video.

Of course, this is not saying that those who make the videos, post on Blogs, or even tune pianos are not experts. Some are and probably do know more than the average Joe. The study found that the most common method for dealing with these unknown legal situations is self-help, to the tune of 46 percent of the survey participants. What does this mean? Well, of the study participants that did not use legal help, almost half of them had negative outcomes. In fact, less than 15 percent of the participants even sought professional legal help.

It should be easy to see that seeking appropriate help is a good thing. If you aren't sure what your legal rights are, it might be worth your time to have a lawyer evaluate your situation and advise you on alternative courses of action. Even if you end up having to pay a few hundred dollars in order to consult with an attorney, it could be a very wise investment that ultimately saves you time and money.

Referenced articles: "Americans don't see their issues as legal matters, study says" By James Podgers - Oct 01, 2014 and "When Do You Need a Lawyer's Help?" from Lawyers.com

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