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When to Seek Legal Advice

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When a legal question arises, one major issue is when to seek legal advice. Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule, as every individual situation is different. Generally, it is best to seek legal advice when you are in a situation in which the professional judgment of an attorney and/or an interpretation of legal rules and provisions is required.

This means that if you have a question about your legal rights or about how a particular law applies to your situation, you should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional. The law can be complex and even seemingly clear-cut laws are open to interpretation. An attorney can research precedent - past cases - to determine how a law has been applied. This expertise is invaluable when a question of law arises, as it can provide you with insight as to how that law might apply to you.

Timeline for Getting Legal Advice

Generally, you should seek legal advice as soon as it becomes clear that a disputed legal right is involved. Most legal causes of action, or potential lawsuits, have statutes of limitation. This means that if you do not understand when to seek legal advice and you delay too long in taking action, you may lose your right to recover. Furthermore, if you are involved in a criminal case, you may unknowingly relinquish your rights or potential defenses to a crime if you do not speak with a legal professional who can help you understand your situation.

Other Factors

There are several other factors in addition to time constraints that make it essential for you to seek legal advice when your rights are at stake. First, if you sign a contract or other legal document, you will be bound to that contract in the vast majority of cases. The law imposes a duty to read and assumes that, when signing a contract, you have fulfilled that duty. Ignorance of the legal terms within the contract is not an excuse to breach a contract, and if you sign something without understanding what it means, you could find yourself bound to unfavorable terms or responsible for damages if you do not follow the contract to the letter. Ignorance of the law is also not a defense in criminal cases, and if you do something illegal simply because you were unaware of the illegality, you can still be found guilty.

The same principle applies when signing any type of settlement agreement. If you are injured or involved in any type of litigation, you should typically seek legal advice before signing any documents. When you sign an agreement accepting partial payment for your claim, the agreement generally contains provisions barring future litigation or additional recovery arising from the same cause of action. If you do not understand when to seek legal advice and you sign an unfavorable settlement agreement, you may end up costing yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars in potential damages. This rule does not apply only when suing adverse parties. If you are negotiating a severance package with your employer or a settlement with an insurance company after a car accident, you should not assume that the other party’s interests are aligned with your own. The best way to protect yourself is to consult with a qualified legal professional for advice before relinquishing the opportunity to pursue your claim.

Getting Legal Help

Generally, if you are in a situation in which you are wondering when to seek legal advice, chances are you should consult with a lawyer. If you do not understand the full legal process you are involved in, any mistakes you make can be costly. Speaking with legal council may be the best way to avoid potential problems and to ensure your rights are adequately protected to the fullest extent of the law. If you need help finding a lawyer in your area, is the place to find one.

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