People file lawsuits all the time, but people often waste money on bad lawsuits that will never be won. Robinson & Henry managing partner Don Eby has a few things for you to think about before you file a lawsuit.
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Before You File a Lawsuit
You think you need to file a lawsuit. What should you do?
Most experienced attorneys would recommend that you take a pause and honestly answer a few basic questions.
First, Honestly Assess Your Case.
Will the opposing party show up in court?
Now fast-forward to the end. Let’s look at why you think you’re been wronged and what you want to achieve by filing a lawsuit. Let’s look at that a little more closely.
Let’s Evaluate a Few Things
Often when people think they need to file a lawsuit, they feel that they’ve been wronged in some way. When you feel you have been wronged, you may become emotional, which is easy to understand.
But when the case goes to court, the judge will not be emotional. Instead, he or she will consider your case in a very logical process.
Judges also love documentation. They don’t like verbal testimony. They want documents.
So when you evaluate your case, think about your case logically. Consider these:
- Do you have any documentation?
- What kind of evidence do you possess?
- Do you have any witnesses?
It’s important to be able to support your claims. Documents, witnesses, and other evidence will go a long way toward backing up your case.
What witnesses do you have that you can take to court to provide testimony on your behalf? Once you’re satisfied your case is a winner from a documentation perspective, then fast-forward to the end. This is what attorneys do.
They always fast-forward to the end by asking this question: When I win, what do I win?
Second, What Do You Want from the Lawsuit?
Money or Something Else?
By filing a lawsuit are you looking for injunctive relief? Injunctive relief means that you want the other party to stop the action that is hurting you or your business.
Consider this example:
Let’s say you fire an employee for chronic absences or stealing money from petty cash. To retaliate, the former employee now protests outside your business carrying a sign accusing you of unfair business practices or pestering customers trying to enter your shop.
Do you want the court to order an injunction against him to make him stop or do you want financial relief? If you think you have lost sales because of this former employee’s protests, how much was lost? If you want a monetary judgment, the question now becomes, could you even collect the money from the former employee?
Collecting a Monetary Judgement Can Be Tough
The opposing party could have filed for bankruptcy protection when you fired him and now he has no money to give.
The party you sue could be judgment proof, which means you cannot collect from them because they have no assets or a bank account that could be garnished or tapped into.
So, think about what you want from your case and what you can get from it.
Using the former employee example, would it make more sense to ask the judge to just make the person stop picketing? Or do you really think you could collect money from that person?
It’s important to carefully consider these types of questions before you invest money into a lawsuit.
Third, Consider the Lawsuit’s Process.
Lastly, think about the actual process of the lawsuit and the length of time a lawsuit could take.
You may have heard the term file with summons and complaint. File with summons and complaint may sound like it is one step, but in reality, it is two documents.
When you go to the courthouse, you file a complaint that alleges the claims you’re making. That complaint will be then served on the opposing party.
Next, the opposing party will have to be summoned. The summons is often the most difficult part of the entire process.
The summons requires actually finding the other person and getting them served. If they’ve moved or skipped town altogether, serving them with the lawsuit may not be as easy as you think. When they’re finally served, then they have to go in front of the judge for the first time.
You can’t assume the other party is a responsible person who is going to follow the rules and show up in court on the right day at the right time. But we’re here to help along the way.
Get Help with Your Lawsuit
Robinson & Henry always offers a free case assessment. Give us a call at 303-688-0944 to set one up or click here to schedule online.
If you’re thinking about filing a lawsuit, first consider talking to a litigation attorney. They can help you determine whether you have a strong case, and they can also explore other options with you that may help you resolve the matter without having to file a lawsuit.