Contributed by Robert Dalby.
You believe you have been wronged, you have spoken to an attorney who thinks you have a claim, and you want to pursue a lawsuit. While that sounds straightforward, the decision to file a lawsuit is a major choice that should not be made lightly. This is why the litigation attorneys here at Miller Butler are laser focused on resolving our clients’ disputes in the most efficient manner. Here are a few things to think about and discuss with your lawyer when you are thinking about filing a lawsuit.
Litigation can get very expensive, very quickly. So, you first need to consider the cost of bringing a lawsuit. Is your problem worth bringing a lawsuit in the first place? There are filing and other fees required by courts just to institute a case, thus you may be better off trying to negotiate a settlement before a case is filed. How will your attorney charge you? By the hour, a contingency fee (a percentage of the winnings), or some other arrangement? If expert witnesses will be required to testify, you’ll have to pay for them too at some point. All of this needs to be discussed in detail with your lawyer before you commit to a lawsuit.
In addition to the costs of protracted litigation, many lawsuits take a long time to get to trial or reach another resolution—usually a year or more. During that time, you will have to help your attorneys respond to discovery requests, you may have to sit for a deposition, and you will do a lot of waiting. So, can you wait that long for your problem to get resolved? Can you afford the cost as well as the effort? Further, lawsuits can be very emotional and so you may be seeking formal legal action for the wrong reasons. Speak with your lawyer to see if they can give you a better idea of how long it will take to resolve your case, since it can heavily depend on which jurisdiction and/or court in which you plan to file suit.
3: Are there other options?
Just because a lawsuit may not be right for you, you still have other options that your attorney should discuss with you. One option that is almost always available is attempting to negotiate a settlement of your claim with the opposing party before either of you has to invest your time and money in litigation. This may not always work out, but it is usually a good place to start. Also, you may have a contract that calls for some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation (which is like a formal settlement meeting) or arbitration (which is like hiring a private judge to decide your case). While these alternative dispute resolution methods have their own pros and cons, they may be a better option than a lawsuit in court.
If you have a legal issue and you are considering filing a lawsuit, the attorneys at Miller Butler are ready to advise you and help you reach the best and most efficient resolution to your matter. If you are being sued by someone, we are also available to defend you in court and elsewhere.