12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Filing a Lawsuit

PUBLICITY, TIME COMMITMENT, RELATIONSHIPS AMONG MANY CONSIDERATIONS

by Contributor

(Apr. 22, 2019) — Bringing about a legal case can be more complicated and time-consuming than you might think. Is filing a lawsuit the best option? Read on to learn more.

The idea that anyone actually wins a legal battle is questionable. No matter who is at fault, filing a lawsuit is bound to be a headache for all parties involved.

In most cases, your lawsuit will never make it to court, but the involvement of attorneys and other third parties adds fuel to the fire.

Before giving in to the fury of another person’s wrongdoing, weigh the pros and cons of suing. Consider the following 12 points before filing a lawsuit.

  1. Cost vs. Benefit

It’s important to review your lawsuit from a business standpoint before you file. There needs to be a reasonable reward for any risk you face. Make a list of possible benefits and counter them each with a potential worst-case scenario.

If you own a business, calculating a return on investment is no different than weighing the cost vs benefits of a lawsuit. Writing down your reward allows you to analyze it from a distance and come back to it later to determine how you feel once time passes.

Consider moving forward only if the reward far outweighs the risk. In this case, litigation is a viable option but not the only option.

  1. Chance of Winning

Your list of potential rewards means nothing if you cannot actually win the case. Determine whether your case really has a chance of winning by consulting with an attorney.

Attorneys have the benefit of historical knowledge of other cases winning or losing in the same circumstances. Interview a variety of potential law firms to find the right fit. Attorneys at this law firm might be experts in your area of litigation or really great at researching case information.

An attorney has a vested interest in the success of your case. Take his or her advice on whether the case is strong or has too many weak areas that need to be addressed before it can be taken seriously.

Feelings about whether or not you are right pale in comparison to actual written law. Organize your thoughts and all evidence prior to your legal consultation to help your lawyer get the best understanding about your case.

  1. Finding a Resolution

Most people would rather do anything else than spend a full day in court. Don’t assume you know whether the other party is willing to cooperate.

Most lawsuits settle outside of court to avoid the expense of going to trial. Approach the situation in a professional way seeking out a resolution to the conflict before filing a lawsuit.

A demand letter that details the breach and how you need the matter handled may be enough to resolve the conflict. Talk to a mediator about setting up a conference to help both parties find a quick solution.

  1. Difficulty Collecting

In civil suits, sometimes a win is still a loss. Consider the case of a landlord suing an unemployed tenant for damages to property. The tenant might lose in court but unless he has money in a bank account that can be garnished by the court, the landlord won’t receive payment.

When the judge rules the other person is responsible for paying, the court will not serve as a collections agency. Even if you suspect the person has the ability to pay and is withholding payment you need to go back to court to begin a new dispute.

  1. Time

The government is not known for speedy lawsuits. Lawsuits can be in court for months or years depending on the accusations and state laws. As you weigh your cost versus benefits, time must be a factor.

Justice takes time and your commitment to remain on top of the details related to the case. Your life can take many turns before the end of the lawsuit. Make sure you see a future for yourself where you can always be under the summons of court.

For business owners, lawsuits mean taking time away from their company and negatively impacting revenue.  Ask your attorney about time commitments before you file paperwork to make sure you have the same understanding of your level of involvement.

  1. Impact on Employment

Long lawsuits can impact your employment. In cases where you change jobs or relocate, needing time off to travel or go to court can affect performance. In highly competitive fields, it might result in getting passed over for a promotion.

Don’t assume that your personal lawsuit is an excused absence. Think from an employer’s perspective on losing employees to court dates or mediation sessions for hours out of the day. Use personal days, when possible, or reconsider filing altogether.

  1. Impact on Family Life

More time in court takes you away from important family moments. A child’s school play or graduation cannot be rescheduled due to a court date. Consider the impact of your lawsuit on your family before filing.

Make sure your spouse is in full support of the time and commitment it takes to win your lawsuit. Depending on the spouse’s job demands, too much time involved in a legal battle can put a strain on your relationship.

  1. Willing Witnesses

Having a witness is a key part of deciding whether or not you have a strong case. A witness may or may not be willing to get involved in a lawsuit, however.

Another thing to consider when naming a witness is whether or not the witness is the best reflection on you or your business. The defense will analyze the credibility of the witness. Depending on your relationship with the witness this may not be a good thing in a public trial.

  1. Statute of Limitations

Take your time filing a lawsuit, but beware of something called a statute of limitations. The court won’t give you an indefinite amount of time to file a lawsuit.

You need to act fast to begin analyzing whether you have a case. Set a hard deadline with an attorney to make a final decision to file your lawsuit. If you wait too long, you end up with little chance of winning.

  1. Your Privacy

Beyond the strains of time, lawsuits can impact your ability to maintain privacy in your personal life. Be sure to warn spouses and loved ones when entering a large lawsuit.

When the other party digs into your financial records or other interactions with law enforcement to establish credibility, be sure you have nothing that could prove an embarrassment to your family. Litigation is generally public record.

Think ahead to future employers performing background checks or clients doing their due diligence to make sure you are a trustworthy vendor. A lawsuit brings things to light that are not always your choice.

Pursue private resolution if you think there is any chance of damaging information about you being added to public record.

  1. Your Integrity

One major reflection to make before filing a lawsuit is whether you are doing the right thing. The rewards may be great and the chances of winning high, but does the lawsuit align with your moral values?

Emotions run high when you feel you are the victim to someone else’s blatant wrongdoing. Consider your situation from multiple perspectives to make sure the lawsuit isn’t simply a method of revenge. If there is a real resolution possible that can be uncovered with a lawsuit, choose to file.

However, if the lawsuit is simply to flex your muscle and intimidate someone else, it may be worth exploring other methods of resolution. The collateral damage of a legal battle is rarely worth it.

  1. Countersuits

Be mindful of the ability of defendants to countersue. Your lawsuit can uncover facts that offer defendants the ability to countersue.

It is helpful to know this in advance because it can make legal proceedings last far longer than expected. A countersuit also opens the door to you becoming liable for paying damages or even suffering more severe legal consequences. Consult with your attorney about whether there is any possibility of you getting sued following the lawsuit.

Considerations

There are many good reasons to file a lawsuit until you factor in all the costs. A lawsuit is not about a conflict between two people. It is impacted by judges, witnesses, state and federal laws, family members and attorneys.

The IRS will command a portion of your settlement amount along with your lawyer. You may end up walking away with far less than you anticipated once you pay all the fees associated with your case.

With so many outside influences impacting the outcome of a lawsuit, always take your time before rushing to file. Despite what you see on television, a lawsuit doesn’t always end with your court date.

Broken relationships and collectibility are important parts of making sure you experience a sure win. Visit my website for more information on law and policy.

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