Every individual or business facing a legal issue confronts the question of whether or not to hire an attorney. Whether in civil or criminal cases, the hiring of an attorney is a choice. You can pay to hire an attorney or appear as a pro se litigant. Pro se is a latin phrase meaning “for oneself” or “on one’s on behalf.” We strongly believe that, if you are appealing a disability determination to the U.S. Court for Veterans Claims, you should be represented by an attorney. Here are three reasons why:
This is Your Last Chance
If you are looking to appeal your VA disability benefit denial to the CAVC, that means your initial application was already denied, as was your Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) appeal of that decision. Typically, this is an indication of one of two problems: either your application and proof are lacking, or your case is questionable. An experienced attorney can help you identify which of these is the underlying difficulty and help craft an effective appeal to the CAVC by minimizing these issues. The CAVC is typically your last chance to win your appeal.
You’re In Court
The other stages of the veterans’ disability application and appeals process occur within the Veterans Administration, where looser agency rules and laws apply. The CAVC judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the same way Article III judges are. It is more formal, and the law is applied strictly. There are substantive and evidentiary rules that one must be aware of in order to present a persuasive case.
This recent decision by the CAVC involving a pro se litigant highlights the strict application of the rule of law. The first sentence of the judge’s decision reads “Veteran James W. Beall appeals pro se that part of a June 13, 2013, decision of the Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) that denied entitlement to an effective date for benefits for intervertebral disc syndrome prior to August 12, 2005, because, inter alia, there was no clear and unmistakable error (CUE) in a 1948 VA regional office (RO) denial of his claim.” If you clearly understand that, then you may be ready to ready to represent yourself; if not, it may be time to consider hiring a disability attorney.
Pro Se is More Expensive in the Long Run
Representing yourself at the CAVC rather than hiring an attorney may seem like the more inexpensive option. It’s free after all, right? Wrong.
The cost of representing yourself could mean losing your case, which would mean you would not receive the veterans’ disability benefits to which you are entitled. This is a cost of thousands of dollars per month for many. Is it worth the risk?
Caveat: Yes, We Are Attorneys
Yes, we are attorneys, so there is some bias. However, even within the profession, the risks of representing oneself in a legal action are well known. In fact a common proverbial warning to attorneys is “the attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
Contact us today for representation in your case.