There are many ways to make mistakes when handling a lawsuit, but I have narrowed down the list to ten of the biggest offenders to keep you on the right track.
- I’m just going to ignore this, and it will go away. I know, it’s a stupid lawsuit, but EVERY lawsuit, no matter how baseless must be taken seriously. It doesn’t matter if you are being sued for blowing up the moon, it is very important that you treat the claim as if it was a valid one and address the issues raised in the complaint. If you don’t you could find yourself with a judgment and damages against you.
- I don’t need an attorney and even if I did, I don’t know one. You may not need an attorney, but it is a better practice to have an attorney look at the case and give you his/her opinion first. If you don’t know any attorneys, find one. You don’t have to hire the first attorney you meet – shop around. Find a knowledgeable (in the specific type of law or case), experienced (in the specific type of law or case) attorney that you feel comfortable with. This attorney is going to spend a lot of time with you during the lawsuit, so make sure this is the right attorney for you. A note: remember that your friend’s aunt’s second cousin may be an attorney, but not necessarily the right attorney for you, find out why you should hire them over other attorneys. When you do make your decision, have a written retainer/engagement agreement with your attorney, detailing what you will be charged and what your attorney will do for you.
- They’re asking for so much, I can’t afford to lose! Yes, the damages claimed by the other side may be enormous, but that isn’t likely the amount they would be awarded. Learn what their best day/worst day and your best day/worst day would look like. This information can help you throughout the case for decision-making.
- That was insulting and made me feel bad! It’s hard not to take a lawsuit personally, but the more you can step away from the emotional side of the lawsuit, the better you can help your attorney prepare the case. Suing someone or being sued does not make you a bad person, but your actions in response can shape the case for you.
- This will be done quickly, and I can get back to normal. As much as you may hope to end a lawsuit quickly, that is rarely the case. Lawsuits take a lot of time and can go on for years. There are many factors in what can extend a case, some of which may be in your control, but many may not. Talk to your attorney about what to expect.
- I am way too busy for this and I can’t give it any extra time. You are too busy, unfortunately, you need to be prepared for the lawsuit and that takes time. Your attorney will need your time throughout the case to help you win. Your time investment in the lawsuit is a very important factor in the ultimate outcome of the case.
- This is the only way it ends! Settlement is not a bad word, in fact, most lawsuits settle and many times the parties walk away in a better position than if they had taken the case as far as they could have. That doesn’t mean that settlement is the only answer or what the other side is offering is the only offer. As your lawsuit moves along, you and your attorney will discuss what the best options are for you and for your goals at that point and looking forward.
- This is too expensive, I can’t win. Defending or bringing a lawsuit can be very expensive and you may not be able to drive the lawsuit as far as it can go, but you likely won’t need to. The lawsuit is a balancing act of results and can settle at any time, but if you don’t defend or bring the case, the expense of doing nothing may far outweigh the alternative. Consult your attorney on how far you may want to go or whether there are some creative alternatives for settlement possibilities.
- Ha, at least the other side will have to pay for my attorney! Although this is possible, it may not be true in your case. Speak to your attorney about attorney’s fees awards, the likelihood of winning and the likelihood of getting your fees paid in full. As in most of life, knowledge before-the-fact will help you make better decisions.
- No one can know that, if they find out I’ll lose! Be honest. If you are involved in a lawsuit, it WILL all come out. Tell your attorney the facts, even if those facts are embarrassing or damage your side of the case, it is better if your attorney knows ahead of time. Your attorney can only make good decisions or recommendations in your case if you are giving him or her good information. This applies to information and documents – don’t hide the truth.
Preparation and expectations will make the experience of a lawsuit much less stressful. Make sure your attorney has the experience and knowledge to prepare you, at E.A. Zebell, PL, we work to keep our clients informed at all stages of a case. Give us a call at (800) 303-1386 to speak about the details of your case.