DALLAS, Nov. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A new nationwide study released today by LegalShield shows that working Americans and their families face a broad array of legal issues daily but only infrequently seek out help due to the cost, confusion and hassle of dealing with the legal system. Even for serious legal events such as divorce, IRS audits, DWI/DUI arrests, real estate purchase, identity theft, or the death of a spouse without a will, an alarming number of Americans are forgoing the legal help they need to protect themselves and their families.
The survey shows 57 million of full-time working Americans experienced at least one significant legal event in the past 12 months, but only 60 percent of those who experienced such an event actually sought out the services of a lawyer to help them. The rest said they were "hesitant" or "dread" calling a lawyer because they are too hard to find, cost too much and are "difficult" and "intimidating" to work with.
"Our research shows what we've known intuitively for a long time – many Americans don't believe they can get the legal help they need to protect themselves and their families," said Rip Mason, CEO of LegalShield. "Too many people believe they have to go at it alone and hope for the best when it comes to dealing with all but the most serious legal issues. Fortunately, that's not the case. Americans just need to become more aware of the options – such as a LegalShield plan – that guarantees they have access to help from qualified attorneys no matter how serious or trivial the issue."
The survey findings show that when barriers to access and cost are removed or reduced, Americans are more likely seek out the counsel of an attorney. Ninety-one percent of respondents said they would seek the help of a lawyer for even the most trivial issue – such as the review of a rental agreement – if their services were easier to access and more affordable. Two-thirds of respondents said they found their lawyer randomly online or through some sort of advertising and had little information about their qualifications or experience. They also said they paid an average of $284 an hour for the services of a lawyer.
"It's not that American's don't believe that they need legal help, they're just not sure that the benefit outweighs the cost or the hassle," Mason said. "That why it's important to remove the negative cost/benefit assumption from the equation. With LegalShield, members pay as little as $17 a month to get unlimited access to dedicated accomplished law firms who are staffed with experienced lawyers specializing in the areas of law that impact American families the most."
Despite the benefits of legal plans such as LegalShield, only 10 percent of respondents said they are covered by any sort of legal service program.
"More and more employers are looking at legal plans as part of their voluntary benefits package. They see it as a way to address absenteeism associated with the legal problem employees experience in their lives," Mason said. "Our study showed that 66 percent of workers who experienced a legal issue had to take time off from work to deal with it. The survey also shows that employees who were covered by a legal protection plan are happier, have greater peace of mind and are more focused on their work.
This study of full-time employees in the U.S. was conducted over the Internet. A national probability sample of males and females aged 18 to 64 was drawn from American Consumer Opinion® Online, Decision Analyst's worldwide panel of over eight million consumers. The sample was balanced by geography and selected demographics, such as gender, age, ethnicity, and household income. Panelists were invited by email to the screening survey, and those employed full-time were invited to Decision Analyst's DAISurvey™ website to participate in the study. A total of 1,000 interviews were completed online from September 20 through September 26, 2012.
LegalShield is the only national legal safeguard to provide its members with access to quality legal services from an accomplished law firm in the U.S. and Canada for legal advice and assistance as much as they want no matter how trivial or serious the issue. For as low as $17 per month, LegalShield members get access to qualified attorneys who are experts in the areas of law that most impact families and small businesses. Founded in 1972 in Ada, Oklahoma, LegalShield has more than 1.4 million members and dedicated law firms in 49 states across the U.S. and four provinces in Canada. The company's website is www.legalshield.com.