Suing someone for damages you incurred from no fault of your own is a big decision. A lawsuit may be a long and complicated process. So how can you tell when civil litigation is right for you? Here are three key things to help you decide.
1. Do You Have a Case?
You probably don't want to expend a lot of effort and money trying to get all the way to court if you don't have a reasonable chance of coming out ahead in the long run. Whether or not you have a chance is a question for an experienced attorney to help you answer. But you can start by asking yourself if you have the ability to provide good evidence, witnesses, financial losses, and a clear line from your injuries to the other party's actions. These are key building blocks needed to win.
If you don't have good enough evidence, there are some ways to build a better case. Can you find more - or more reliable - witnesses? Can you find more documentation? What methods could an attorney try to use such witnesses or documents to counter your claim? Can you head any problems off before they occur? Can you make a clearer demonstration of fault?
If the problem is demonstrating how you should be compensated or made whole, can a financial expert help you show ways in which you've been financially harmed - such as through loss of reputation or future earning potential? You should talk with an attorney about whether you have a strong case or if you can strengthen your case by taking action now.
2. Have You Tried Alternatives?
There are a few alternatives to going straight to court. Can you come to a mutually beneficial agreement through legal alternatives like mediation or arbitration, especially in family law cases. You might even be able to talk directly with the other parties and achieve a reasonable settlement with the help of your attorney. While these options may yield a lower dollar amount, they will be less stressful.
Even if you do decide to pursue litigation, be sure that you've made a written demand of the other party before your court date. A final demand could be enough to convince businesses or individuals to avoid the extra court costs and take responsibility. Contesting a suit costs them money, time, and possibly their business reputation, so you could motivate someone to do the right thing to avoid those added problems.
Finally, even if you have a good case and you win in court, can you reasonably expect to be able to get the financial judgment out of the other party? If dealing with a corporation, an insurance company, or even just an individual with resources, the answer is probably yes. But what if you were hit in a car or bitten by a dog belonging to someone with no money or insurance?
Remember that winning a judgment can be just one step in receiving your compensation. You may then have to take more steps to actually compel the losing party to pay what was awarded. You may have to get a garnishment, seizure of assets, or use a lien on property.
If you're unsure whether or not the other party actually has funds worth getting a judgment for, your attorney can help with research into their finances. They may be able to locate assets through public records and other legal means.
To answer the question of whether a civil suit is right for your circumstances and injuries, consult with a professional attorney in your area. At A.B. Olmos & Associates P.C. , we can aid you in determining the likelihood of winning your case as well as helping you strengthen those chances before your day in court.