Pre-paid legal: Are you really going to use it?
Are you enrolled in a pre-paid legal plan and worried your provider is
simply tallying up your tab for a service you’ll never get to use? Read on
as we explain the chances of using pre-paid legal services in legal
challenges you may be faced with.
In their lifetime, people are most likely to use legal services that fall
into four categories: civil defence, civil plaintiffs, criminal defence and
legal help that involves a variety of transactional or business law.
Your liability insurances already covers you for the legal pertaining to
civil defence. Your insurer hires the lawyer who will defend you and have
every incentive to defend your well since they are the ones who bear your
legal costs irrespective of the final outcome. In that respect, you already
have “pre-paid legal coverage” in place and a legal plan wouldn’t add much
to the coverage.
Civil plaintiff attorneys in the Unites States work on a “no win no fee”
basis. This means that they will not charge you unless they win you damages
in an insurance claim or lawsuit against someone who caused you physical
injury. Their contingency fees are calculated as a “commission” on any
money won, so there is every incentive for your plaintiff lawyer to defend
you and defend you well: the more you win, the more he wins. There is no
need to pre-pay for a service where you stand to lose nothing, and where
advice is readily available to you from plaintiff lawyers eager to work on
On the rare occasion you need to bring criminal charges if you’re involved
in a serious accident or defend yourself against criminal charges brought
against you, lining up a lawyer to represent you in advance is not the best
of decisions. In these situations, client-lawyer rapport is crucial: you
need someone whom you trust, build a rapport with and competent enough to
defend you in a court of law. You rarely get the chance to talk to your
attorney face-to-face in a pre-paid legal plan, and most of the attorneys
in the network do not do criminal defence work.
Transactional and business law is the area where you will most probably
find pre-paid legal services most effective. If you frequently need to
someone to draft your wills, review simple contracts and set up advance
health-directives or simply want competent legal advice at your disposal,
then going pre-paid will save you the trouble of searching for an attorney
and paying “a la carte”.
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