An injured worker is entitled to represent himself in court or in a workers' comp claim in North Carolina. Is it a good idea?
I don't think so. A workers' compensation case can be quite complex, with complicated legal and medical issues that must be identified, analyzed, and addressed with the proper factual evidence. There are many ways to screw it up.
Heck, any lawyer who has practiced for 8 or 10 years will tell you that a brand-new lawyer fresh out of law school, who just passed the Bar exam and just became licensed to practice law, is typically not very competent to represent a client in court on a complicated matter due to lack of legal experience. And that person has successfully completed three years of law school and been tested on such important legal concepts such as the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Rules of Evidence. If a brand new lawyer is barely competent to represent an injured worker in court, then is it wise for the injured worker, without any legal training, to try to represent himself?
The North Carolina Court of Appeals says it is not a good idea. That Court twenty years ago stated in a case decision that:
"In contested Workers' Compensation cases today, access to competent legal counsel is a virtual necessity." Church v. Baxter Travenol Labs, Inc., and American Motorists Insurance Company, 104 N.C. App. 411, 416 (1991).
More recently, Consumer Reports looked at the issue. Here is their report about using online resources to represent yourself:
So the bottom line is, workers' compensation cases in North Carolina are quite complex, and having legal counsel on your side is a "virtual necessity." Fortunately, most workers' compensation certified specialist lawyers in North Carolina, such as Bob Bollinger, will give an injured worker a free, no-obligation consultation about their case. Getting this free information from a competent and experienced lawyer will help the worker answer a crucial question: Should I get a workers' compensation lawyer to help me, or try to represent myself? Contact us at the Bollinger Law Firm and we will help you answer that question.