There are many reasons why you might decide to sue someone. A few common reasons to sue include:
- Enforce a business or personal contract
- Recover damages after an accident
- Protect your property
- Get a divorce or dissolve a business partnership
- Replace a trustee
Whatever happened that caused you to think about suing someone has probably turned your life upside down, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that going through with the legal process will fix everything. Litigation can be stressful, time consuming, and expensive.
Before you make the leap to hire an attorney and take your case to court, ask yourself these seven questions.
Do You Have a Good Case?
Before you consider anything else, you first have to consider whether or not you have a good case. That means not only do you have to have a reason to sue, you also have to think carefully about whether you have available evidence to support your claim.
Even if you think you have a good case, a talented attorney can punch holes in your lawsuit. The Rodriguez Law Group says that “A skilled lawyer can greatly increase the chances that the case will end as favorably as possible for the defense.”
If you aren’t sure about your case, consider scheduling a consultation with an attorney. Most offer free consultations, and they can tell you if you would have a good case, should you decide to pursue it.
Have You Tried Settling the Dispute Already?
Whether you have a good case or not, you should always try to settle the dispute out of court first.
In many cases, the offending party won’t want to go to court. In addition, some may not want to have done something wrong without making it right. After all, there are still good people out there! You’ve got nothing to lose by contacting the offending party and discussing your problem, especially if the offending party is a business.
It can also be beneficial to go into the conversation with the potential for compromise. If you can find a way to see the issue from the other party’s point of view, you may reach a compromise that won’t require you to go to court.
Will You Actually Be Able to Collect a Judgement?
If you have a good case and you’re unable to come to a compromise, you may think you’re ready to go to court. It’s important to remember that just because you go to court and you win doesn’t mean you’ll actually collect on your judgement.
It isn’t the court’s job to collect the money that was awarded. If the offending party decides not to pay, you may find yourself in court again trying to force them to pay you the money that you were awarded.
You also have to consider the fact that the offending party may not have the funds to pay you. Instead, you may have to be paid over time, or you may not be payed at all. If you aren’t going to be able to collect on your judgement, you’re probably better off not going to court.
Can You Afford Attorney Fees?
How much attorneys cost can vary widely, but it nearly every case, you can expect to pay a lot of money in order to hire one.
In some cases, they may not collect payment unless there’s a positive outcome in your case, but in others, you may have to pay hourly. A messy and complicated case can take many hours, which could amount to thousands of dollars.
No matter how your attorney charges, make sure you can pay their fees whether you win or not.
Do You Have the Time to Deal With a Lawsuit?
Not only can lawsuits be costly for both the plaintiff and the defendant, but they can also take a lot of time.
The legal process involves many steps, and because many different cases are being seen by the courts at the same time, you may wait days, weeks, or even months until your case can be seen.
Do you have what it takes to see the process through to the end? Will you be able to take the time off of work, or spend time away from family as you fill out paperwork and meet in court? These are important things to consider before you go through with your case.
What Court Will See Your Case?
Not all court rooms are created equal. There are different courts that may or may not see your case. It’s important to know which one, if any, is available to you.
For example, if your case involves just a few thousand dollars or less, you’ll find yourself in small claims court. If you’re suing someone from a different state, you may have to travel to sue in the courts where they live. Knowing what kind of court you will end up in may help inform how you decide to move forward with your case if you decide to move forward with it at all.
How Will You Feel When It’s All Over?
If you feel like you need to sue another party, you probably feel wronged. It’s easy to feel angry and enraged, which can lead you to court, but it’s important to take a step back and think about the big picture.
How will you feel if you lose your case? Don’t think you’ll feel great just because you win either. If you’re suing a business partner or family member, you will probably ruin the relationship for the rest of your life, which may not be what you want. Imagine yourself a year or two from now and how you might feel about how everything went down before you decide what to do.
Just because you have been wronged doesn’t necessarily mean you should go straight to court. Make sure you take the time to answer these questions to ensure you do the right thing in the long-term.