So you think you want to sue someone. That is a heavy undertaking! You should already know that lawsuits are lengthy, expensive, and often times draining processes.
But, sometimes, the cause is still worth it. Do you think that applies to YOUR cause?
Before you start the process of a lawsuit there a couple of things you need to think about. Here we have compiled the five main things to consider before you sue someone. Keep reading to learn how to make YOUR case smarter, surer, and better-founded!
1. Can You Afford the Money Required?
Lawsuits require a good amount of money. Attorney fees alone can be too much for some people.
Also, what if your case takes longer than you intended? You could be paying those fees for months on end!
The truth is, you can’t know everything you’ll have to pay for when you sue someone. Or for how long. Be sure you’re in a sound financial situation before you open a lawsuit.
In 2019, the average cost to hire a civil suit lawyer in the US is $200-$400 per hour. And that’s just the attorney fee! It doesn’t include filing fees, document preparation, or court fees.
Your lawyer can give you an estimate of legal fees. Get the estimate, round up, and do your math: is your case worth that amount?
Calculate your risk tolerance. This vital aspect should always be included in your final estimate. What is “worth it” to you?
It can be worth it! But you want to make sure that it is before you start. If you think your case is worth the financial risks, then go ahead and seek out a lawyer.
2. Can You Afford the Time & Resources Required?
Lawsuits take time. Meetings with your lawyer, document preparation, alibi preparation, witness preparation, and waiting for your court date. If all isn’t settled in your first court appearance then you’ll wait more time, do more preparation, and await a later court date and judgment.
Don’t forget about the time a lawsuit will take away from your day-to-day life! Can you afford to put your life on hold? What if you have kids or other dependents who need your time?
Lawsuits also take resources. Do you have a job you can walk away from for however long is needed? Can you afford to give your case your undivided attention?
Can you get witnesses, connections, and smart, capable people to help you? If so, taking your case to court could be the right move. If you consider your potential gain to be worth the risk, trust your intellect!
An experienced lawyer in California reported some surprising court results he’s had. Results that he wouldn’t have guessed! So if you’ve read our five things to consider and still feel sure, don’t be afraid to contact a lawyer.
3. Can the Other Person Afford the Money or Retribution You Request?
Imagine investing your money, time, resources, and energy into your lawsuit, all to have the judge say that the other party can’t meet your demands. Imagine the judge then dismisses the case. It is possible for you to walk away without collecting a judgment!
It’s hard for you to know the “right amount” to sue someone for, so that’s best left to your lawyer. You and your lawyer should take an honest look at the other party’s financial situation. Carefully consider what they have to offer in terms of retribution.
Ask yourself: is it possible to collect judgment? Are my demands reasonable? Would their pay out be worth my investment?
4. Have You Tried to Settle Outside of Court?
Nine times out of ten, parties would rather settle outside of court than in it. To “settle” means to reach an agreement without going before a judge, and sometimes without even involving lawyers.
Settling can be beneficial to both parties in terms of expense, time, and resources. You can be paid what you think is fair while avoiding the court system. The other party can avoid the mess of being served, hiring lawyers, appearing in court, etc.
Settling can look two different ways:
- The other party could meet your demands right off the bat, simply to save face in court. Or to avoid paying you that amount plus legal fees. This isn’t super likely to happen.
- You can reach a compromise. The ideal compromise would serve the interests of both parties. Agreeing on a compromise is the much more likely occurrence of the two.
We won’t go into the how-to steps here, so check out this article that provides details on how to settle outside of court.
The other upside for you is that you don’t risk losing everything in court! What if the judge dismissed your case without awarding you anything?
Or worse, the judge could find you partly at fault and order you to pay something. Literally the opposite of your goal. (We see this happen all the time on Judge Judy with ridiculous cases that could have been settled outside her courtroom!)
5. Do You Have a Valid, Legally-Based Case?
Most importantly, do you have a good, valid case? Is your claim based on facts that are backed up by evidence? Does your claim stand on legal grounds?
“Legal grounds” or a valid “legal claim” means your claim isn’t based on emotion, personal opinion, or happenstance. It must be based on the law.
Did the person you want to sue actually break the law? Are they legally at fault in the situation? Did their actions unjustly cause the case? If not, you most likely don’t have a solid legal claim.
The situation described in this article written by a lawyer is a perfect example of an unfounded claim. The man in question was doing required community service. He removed his required orange vest while working on the side of the road.
His supervising officer prompted him to put it back on. The man did not obey. Because of his lack of cooperation, the officer gave the man an extra day of community service.
The man then wanted to take the case to a judge, hoping his second day of community service would be dismissed. Now, the man had a sob story (a “reason” for his lack of obedience that was founded on personal opinion and emotion), but he was still ultimately at fault. He took the orange vest off and didn’t put it back on when prompted.
If he took this case to court, the judge would most likely throw it out. The man would have wasted money on a lawyer and on travel costs, and wasted time and energy in court. A judge will consider all aspects of your case, so be sure that yours is not emotional or one-sided.
An experienced lawyer can spot a valid case because they’re trained to think like a judge. Find out more about the benefits of hiring an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer.
Be Confident in Your Lawsuit Before You Sue Someone
So you want to sue someone. Lawsuits can be long, involved, pricey, and emotional. Don’t you want to be sure of your claim before you invest so much into it?
You need to consider your financial situation. Can you afford an attorney and all that entails?
Can you afford the travel, research, and work necessary to make your case? Can you afford all of that for a sustained period of time, should your lawsuit take longer than expected?
Also consider your resources. Do you have the resources to take off work for an extended time if necessary?
Do you have the time to devote to meetings, research, and court? Can you afford to give your lawsuit your undivided attention?
Consider the defendant’s financial situation. Yes, you may successfully make your case against them, but will you collect a judgment?
If they’re broke, you don’t win anything! Is their financial situation worth yours?
Consider settling outside of court. Is the defendant willing to come to a reasonable agreement? Many people and companies are, to avoid the expenses of court!
Lastly, consider the legal grounds of your lawsuit. Do you have a valid, law-based claim that will hold up in court? Will a judge view your claim as legitimate and necessary?
And don’t don’t miss the Most Ridiculous Celebrity Lawsuit of the Week column. So many baseless claims!