This week Legal Hero celebrates 3 years of offering our members a solution (quality legal cost insurance) to unaffordable legal fees. We thank each and every one of our loyal members and business partners, for allowing us the opportunity to add value to your financial and legal wellbeing. What a blessing it is to try hard, each and every single day, to be a hero at YOUR service.

As part of our celebration, we would like to share a few success stories with you.

Legal Hero
Part One. From Drinking and Driving to Sweeping School Yards

Disclosure: the below is based on a true story that has been dramatized. Names have been changed to protect the member’s identity.

It was a chilly evening when Mr. Andrew Engels* got arrested for DUI (driving under the influence). Thank goodness Andrew had joined Legal Hero mid-2015 and even after having downed a few too many, he remembered to pull out his golden Legal Hero membership card. Although the numbers were twirling slightly, Andrew could make out 0861229922 and selected voice prompt 2 for emergency arrest assistance. This service is available 24/7 every single day of the year.

Andrew was relieved to hear a lawyer at Legal Hero answer promptly and willing to repeat most of the legal advice provided. Being arrested is scary enough, and having your mind slowed down by alcohol certainly does not help either! The most difficult aspect of the conversation was having to decide which next of kin’s details to supply. The Legal Hero lawyer explained that Andrew would not be able to take calls after this, so Legal Hero would have to keep a next of kin up to date with developments. This person would be contacted every two hours with updates. Mmmmm, who would Andrew bother this time of night? Mary* would be upset by this whole situation, but there was no getting out of it. Reluctantly Andrew asked Legal Hero to keep his wife up to speed.

What happened next?

• The lawyer at Legal Hero called the relevant SAPS (South African Police Station) to arrange R1000 Police Bail in terms of which Andrew could leave as soon as he had sobered up and was processed (fingerprints taken, documents signed, etc.). Andrew was very relieved when Mary came to pick him up. Clearly, she could not be that mad;

• Andrew had to go to court for his first appearance (simply a formality) and request copies of his docket. The docket is the case the State had built up against him;

• A Legal Hero lawyer went through Andrew’s docket and advised that the State, however, does have enough evidence against Andrew and did all the blood tests by the book. Legal Hero’s expert opinion was to ask for a diversion as this is Andrew’s first offence and he is a good candidate for criminal mediation (community service etc. in terms of which Andrew would not be left with a criminal record, called a diversion). Andrew agreed and promised that he would never drive under the influence again;

• The Legal Hero Merit Assessment Team (considers claims/ requests for cover) approved Andrew’s claim based on a request for a diversion. Consequently, a Legal Hero Partner from a law firm closest to the relevant Magistrate’s Court Andrew was attending, was appointed and paid for by Legal Hero to attend the next Court Hearing (litigation cover);

• The Magistrate agreed that Andrew is a good candidate for a diversion and sentenced him to a few hundred hours’ of helping out at a soup kitchen, cleaning a school yard, etc provided the aforesaid is done within one year;

• Total time from start to finish – from receiving the late-night phone call from Andrew, to paying the relevant Legal Hero Partner/ attorney from a firm closest to Andrew = 4 months. Andrew did not have to pay one cent, apart from his Legal Hero insurance premium of R220 per month.

*Names have been changed to protect the member’s identity.

a) Had the Legal Hero lawyer been unsuccessful in arranging Police Bail telephonically, but the offence was of a nature where Police Bail could potentially be granted, Legal Hero would have sent for and paid the fees of one of its Legal Hero Partners from a Law Firm closest to the SAPS to arrange Police Bail in person. If unsuccessful, Legal Hero would have sent for and paid the fees of a Legal Hero Partner for legal representation during the first Court Hearing to apply for Formal Bail;

b) As Legal Hero is a legal cost insurance company, all ‘problems leading to legal assistance being sought’ need to happen AFTER the first premium in order for cover to be approved;

c) All litigation matters (in Court representation) are subject to a formal merit assessment. With regards to criminal cases, the merit assessment is based on copies of the State’s docket. A case could be rejected if it is a clear policy exclusion or where the State has so much evidence, that the member simply has no leg to stand on. In such a case, a guilty plea might still be covered (where a lawyer is appointed by Legal Hero to argue mitigating circumstances in order to reduce your sentence and/ or jailtime);

d) As from mid-October 2017 – Legal Hero’s birthday – we now offer a brand spanking new Legal Hero policy for R249 per month. This includes R5000 bail money paid by Legal Hero after your arrest. More information coming soon. T’s and C’s apply. Please contact your Legal Hero broker for more information or contact 0861229922/