Do You Really Need A Lawyer?

BAY AREA LITIGATION BOUTIQUE also San Jose, Oakland, Fremont, Daly City, Hayward, Millbrae, Richmond, Santa Clara, Redwood City, South San Francisco PASQUALI LAW OFFICE



1220 Howard Avenue
Burlingame, CA 94010






Mission Statement





San Mateo Peninsula: (650)579-0100

San Francisco: (415)841-1000



Insurance Claims: Auto accidents; insurance claims; bad faith denial of claims; personal injury; wrongful death.

Employment Law: Discrimination; harassment; TItle VII; wage & hour claims.

Probate Litigation: Elder abuse

Business LitigationBreach of contract

Should You Handle Your Own Case?

    I'll answer this like a typical lawyer...It depends. First, not all disputes end up "going to court." My best and heartfelt advice is, if the dispute is simple and can be worked out (two neighbors arguing over a fence, for example) stay away from attorneys and stay out of court. Once litigation begins, you're in for the ride of your life and you won't enjoy any part of it. This adage holds true regardless of how much money you end up with in the end. Remember, the more seriously you're injured, the bigger the potential damage award that the defendant will have to pay. Accordingly, the harder the other side is going to fight before pulling out their checkbook.

          Usually, people think about hiring an attorney when they feel wronged. This includes everything from automobile accident victims thru complex business or real estate disputes. Business disputes worth litigating always require an attorney. Personal injury matters, on the other hand, are governed by the extent of your injuries. Let’s talk dollars and cents.

          If you were hurt but your injuries resolved within a relatively short period of time, the amount of your economic damages (medical bills plus lost wages) necessarily dictates the value of your case. As a rough guide in calculating economic damages use the total bill, regardless of how much was paid for by insurance, or, in the case of lost wages, the value of the time lost regardless of sick-pay or disability pay received by the worker. If you have Kaiser, or a similar HMO, do not use your co-pay amount; instead, use the value that you would have been charged in the marketplace by a non-member private doctor or hospital. My personal rule of thumb is that if the plaintiff doesn’t have at least $5,000 in economic damages, they are better off trying to settle the case on their own directly with the insurance company. The reason for this is simple, in a personal-injury case which didn’t happen at work, you’re typically going to pay a lawyer 1/3 of the settlement as a fee. If you only went to the doctor a couple of times, and your combined damages total, say, $1,000, you might get an insurance adjuster to pay you $2,000 for your claim. A lawyer is going to have to get $3,000 for you to just break even!

          Once economic damages are over $10,000 and in all cases involving broken bones, surgery, or permanent injuries of any kind, you’re probably going to get more in the long run if a skilled and experienced attorney is representing you; the reason being that insurance companies make money by collecting premiums and keeping claims down. They’re not going to write big checks without being certain that the claim is worth it. That usually means the filing of a lawsuit and active litigation.

          Both insurance companies and large corporations have a combination of so-called “house counsel” and “outside law firms” to help them. Remember, they don't pay large legal bills because they want to, they pay them because good lawerys save them money in the end. In fact, it was working for one of those “outside” law firms that yours truly got his training. In a serious case, you are better off with an experienced lawyer on your side rather than trying to "go it alone." With common sense dictating that pitfalls be magnified in direct proportion to the stakes, an even older adage is appropriate: "Every person who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client."

Pasquali Law, a boutique law office where clients matter.


In Burlingame, California and serving the S.F. Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Fairfield, Santa Rosa, Sunnyvale, Vallejo, Alameda, Alamo, Albany, American Canyon, Ashland, Bay Point, Belmont, Benicia, Blackhawk-Camino Tassajara, Brentwood, Campbell, Capitola, Castro Valley, Cherryland, Clayton, Cupertino, Danville, Dixon, Dublin, East Palo Alto, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Foster City, Gilroy, Half Moon Bay, Healdsburg, Hercules, Hillsborough, Hollister, Lafayette, Larkspur, Live Oak, Livermore, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Martinez, Menlo Park, Mill Valley, Milpitas, Moraga, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Napa, Newark, North Bay, Novato, Oakley, Orinda, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Peninsula, Petaluma, Piedmont, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Rohnert Park, San Anselmo, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, San Mateo, San Pablo, San Rafael, San Ramon, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, Scotts Valley, South Bay,, Stanford, Suisun City, Tamalpais-Homestead Valley, Union City, Vacaville, Walnut Creek, Watsonville, Windsor, and Marin County, San Francisco County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Monterey County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Solano County, and Napa County.