Should I Sue?
Millions of people who find themselves in conflict with other individuals or organizations ask themselves, “Should I sue?” Sometimes, you’ll be able to figure things out on your own but more often than not, it helps to have the guidance of a lawyer before making a final decision.
Before moving forward with a lawsuit against someone ask yourself…
1. Who Will You be Suing?
If you are suing an individual, does the person have any means to satisfy your monetary demands in a lawsuit? Is a business or corporation at fault, and if so, how well prepared are you to engage in a legal battle against a well-equipped entity? Know who you are suing, what their financial and legal means are, and whether you have a reasonable chance of winning and recovering compensation.
2. Do You Have Enough Information to Support a Successful Case?
Do you have the documents, witnesses and other items needed to prove your side of the story? If not, it might be wise to not go forward with a lawsuit. Be certain that you can show proof of what happened, how it affected you in a negative way and that the other party is the one responsible.
3. In What Court Will the Case be Filed?
Whether you decide to go through a small claims court or one of the higher legal venues, like a Superior Court of Justice, you’ll need to consider the potential differences in outcome. Some courts restrict the number of judgments and awards or impose specific guidelines about evidence and submitting to arbitration.
4. How Much is This Going to Cost You?
The bottom line on costs is this: you’ll have to pay your lawyer, pay to file a case, and possibly pay the other party’s court fees if you lose. Even if you win and the losing party covers your court fees, you might find yourself paying the court to enforce the payment decree against a recalcitrant losing party.
5. When is the Ideal Time to Pursue a Lawsuit?
When determining the best time to pursue a lawsuit, the first thing you need to do is consult a lawyer on the appropriate statute of limitations. From there you need to determine if the time is right for you.
If You Decide Not to Sue, There are Alternatives
When the answer to the “Should I Sue?” question is no, there are plenty of alternatives. The three most popular are negotiating, entering into arbitration and going through mediation.
Here’s what you should know about your options:
Negotiating can sometimes be the smartest way to resolve any legal problem. There are significant advantages, including:
-It can take place between the parties directly, or through their lawyers.
-Negotiating often defuses small disagreements before they become larger ones involving court costs, lengthy legal entanglements and public revelation of private information.
-It is almost always faster and less complicated than going to court.
Though usually less costly and much faster than going to court, the third-party arbitrator chosen by the two parties has to follow some legal guidelines set out in the Arbitration Act. Arbitration cases, though often complex and somewhat formal, typically save both parties money, allow for privacy and can arrive at solutions both sides can live with.
Go Through Mediation
Before a case starts, you can hire a mediator to help you and the other party come to amicable terms. There are plenty of advantages to mediation, including:
-It’s typically much cheaper than going to court
-All the negotiation is private. There’s no media coverage to worry about.
-You might be able to mend a disrupted relationship with the other party, whether it’s a client, neighbor or business partner.
-It’s fast and lacks the formality of a court proceeding.
Even if you decide not to sue and instead opt for one of the alternatives, it’s highly likely you’ll need legal representation. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that just because the issue is settled “out of court” that you don’t need a lawyer. Competent legal representation can guide you through a complex arbitration, mediation or negotiation and if needed win for you in court.