What Should I Understand Before Filing A Lawsuit?
A lawsuit is an adversarial action a threat to someone’s well-being. Before filing a lawsuit, explore these considerations before and after seeking professional legal advice.
1) Do you have a good cause/reason and a good case? Even if you think you have a good case, take some time to think about whether you can win the lawsuit. Unless you have another agenda, the intent of filing a lawsuit is to win and gain a settlement of some kind.
2) Do you have material evidence to prove your case? Hearsay and speculation are just what they are. Review the material evidence you will use to prove your case, including documents, objects, records, witnesses and so on. Determine whether the evidence you think you have exists and, if so, determine where it is. Is it in your possession? If not, do you have knowledge of it’s whereabouts? Do you have access to it? Is there a chance that the evidence will spoil, decompose, deteriorate while you are awaiting trial?
3) Determine whether there are witnesses who will help prove your case. Was there anyone who observed first-hand to verify the issues of the lawsuit? Are there witnesses who can testify about the different types of evidence you will present at trial? Will any of these witnesses be willing to testify on your behalf or would you have to summon them to court? Is there a witness that needs protection or is poor health or is about to move to a different location who would be unable to testify for you in court? Can you lock in witness' testimony through an affidavit or declaration?
4) Determine the money you will need to bring the lawsuit to court. Do you have the money to pay expenses for filing fees and costs; money to cover earnings lost while you pursue the lawsuit, litigation-related fees and attorney fees. Is there anything about your lawsuit that would qualify you for any aid in paying for representation? Are you covered by insurance for the matter of the lawsuit?
5) Consider whether you have the time and physical/emotional energy to pursue a lawsuit. The average time is 2-5 years from start to finish. Whether or not you hire an attorney to represent you, you will be either representing yourself or aiding your attorney in your representation. Either way, you will have to spend a considerable amount of time and energy pursuing the lawsuit. Not only will a lawsuit consume a great deal of your energy, it will also likely be an emotionally draining experience.
6) Will the defendant countersue? There is always a possibility if you sue someone that they will sue you back (countersuit). If this occurs, not only will you be committing the time, energy, and money to your own lawsuit, but you will also be spending time, energy, and money defending a lawsuit.
7) Consider whether you will be able to collect on a judgment if you are successful in court. It rarely makes sense to file a lawsuit if you know in advance that it is unlikely you will collect on a judgment. Conduct an investigation of the party you wish to sue to determine what types of assets are available to satisfy any judgment you might receive.
8) Check whether your lawsuit is timely. Certain types of lawsuits must be filed within certain proscribed periods of time called statute of limitations. If you are not filing within the proper statute of limitations, your lawsuit will be dismissed. Check to see which statutes of limitations apply and whether you are within the proscribed times.
9) Forget Greed and Revenge. A lawsuit is no guarantee that you have a winning lottery ticket. A more realistic approach to a lawsuit is for reasonable, full and fair compensation to allow you to recover all of your past and future expenses, and compensation for all of your past and future pain and suffering compensation.
10) Before you file your lawsuit, make an attempt to settle your dispute through mediation or arbitration. Consider whether there is any other way to resolve the dispute other than by filing a lawsuit.