Before You Sue: 10 Things to Think About

Bringing a lawsuit can be a long and laborious process. Unfortunately, it’s also something for which most potential plaintiffs aren’t prepared. “Most plaintiffs don’t really know if and when they should sue,” says accident attorney Stephen Babcock, “which can have a huge impact on their potential cases.” If you’re thinking about contacting an attorney, you may want to think about the following factors first.

10. How good is your case?

The first, and perhaps most important, question you should ask if you really have a case. You may feel like suing the other party, but do you really have a chance of winning? Do you have an injury for which you can be compensated, and did the other party really contribute to that injury? If you can’t answer that question, you certainly aren’t ready to bring a suit.

9. Have you tried to settle out of court?

Did you ever talk to the other party? Did you give that person a chance to work with you outside of a courtroom? While this certainly isn’t always a necessity, it may be something to think about. In many cases, there’s a good chance that the other party would be willing to help you with your problems in exchange for avoiding a lengthy public trial.

8. Can you compromise?

Is there any way you can do this outside of court? Is there a solution that both parties can come to that will make things easier? While it’s important to sue in some situations, finding a middle ground is better in others. Not only can this help you to reduce your costs, but it can also help you to speed the time between making an agreement and getting your money.

7. Do you value this relationship?

If you sue someone, you will change the relationship that you have with them. If you’re looking at someone with whom you have had a one-off encounter, the relationship might not matter much. If you’re thinking about suing a family member or friend, though, you should decide if you are willing to damage that relationship. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to do so, while in other cases the money isn’t worth the change to your life.

6. What will this cost you?

Can you really afford to bring a suit? Even if the case is taken on commission, you are still going to have to deal with your bills in the meantime. If you aren’t financially prepared for a suit, you can go broke long before you win. You may need to think about taking a settlement offer if you can’t handle the possibility of waiting on an award.

5. How long will this take?

Is this a complex case? If so, you might be looking at years of effort before any kind of payoff. Is that something for which you can wait? Is it worth it to you to drag things out for as long as it takes? The more complex the case, the more time you will spend on it.

4. What do you hope to get?

There are many reasons to sue a person or company. Each of them has a different end-game and the end result might not always be what you want. Are you looking to get a specific type of performance out of the other party? Are you just looking for monetary restitution? Do you want to send a message? Try to figure out what you want before you bring a suit.

3. What happens if you lose?

Can you afford to lose this case? Will you be financially stable if things don’t go your way? Will you suffer negative consequences in the community if the other party loses? You might still have the moral high ground if you lose, but will that be enough for you?

2. What happens if you win?

Will winning be enough to help you? Will a successful lawsuit help you to accomplish any goals, or will it leave things in much the same condition they are now? Remember, a win at court doesn’t necessarily mean that things change overnight. You should have a plan on what you will do while you wait for payment arrangements to be made.

1. Is this your only choice? 

Finally, you must decide if you have any choices other than bringing a suit. Can you settle with the insurance company on the other side? Do you have access to other forms of wealth that will allow you to get back on your feet without going to court? Suing may very well be the best choice, but you should consider all the avenues available to you.

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    Greg Stiles

    Covering the Southern Oregon business and economy since 2001. Read Full
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