Before You File A Lawsuit
Before You File A Lawsuit
The most fundamental question to ask yourself if you’re considering a lawsuit may appear to be the most obvious, but you should take some time to really think about it: do you have a good case? Understanding what elements come into play in your specific case is something with which an experienced litigation attorney can help you.
Part of the process of filing a lawsuit is making a prior demand for payment. This is often in the form of what is called a “formal demand letter.” In this letter, you specifically ask the party in question for a certain sum of money, whether that is – for instance – money paid to them for services not rendered or for some other fault. The letter includes a time frame by which the other party should have paid you and a warning that you will seek legal measures to recover the money if payment is not made. Again, an experienced attorney can help you with just the right phrasing for the letter and with everything the letter should contain, as it pertains to your specific situation.
You might also consider negotiations with the other party or compromising. Looking at the situation from the other party’s point of view can sometimes provide a little insight into how they look at what’s happened. If, for instance, you provided a service to the other party, and something went wrong, that other party might not have paid you based on that. Sometimes, a little talking can go a long way. The other party might be willing to pay you a reduced sum to avoid court hassles, and you could save some money on legal fees.
Another question to ask yourself before filing a lawsuit is if you’ll be able to collect on a judgment if you win the case. If the other party simply doesn’t have the means to pay you, then you will spend more money in an attempt to collect. Look also at your financial situation. Lawsuits can be expensive, and, in many cases, you won’t be able to recover your attorney’s fees. It’s sometimes more economically reasonable to settle your case with the other party.
Before you file, remember that lawsuits can sometimes take a lot of time, and can also take a lot of energy. There will be documentation to gather, witnesses to contact, and vast amounts of preparation. Ask yourself if you have the time to devote to a lawsuit, and ask your attorney just what will be involved in your case. How much time will it take? What will you need to gather? What will need to be filed? Where will the case need to take place? If the other party lives in a different state, a different jurisdiction may have precedence. You may have to file your suit where the other party lives, so it is important that you consider whether you can devote the time to travel, if this is the case for your suit. It can be inconvenient, but, sometimes, it is worth it.
There are statutes of limitations on most matters relating to civil litigation. In Idaho, you have 4 years to file a lawsuit on a written contract, 2 years on an oral contract, 2 years on an injury case, and 3 years on a property damage case. It’s important that you make sure that time has not run out for you to file your suit.
Some cases have a small enough amount of money in contention that you may be able to file in small claims court. In small claims, you usually represent yourself, present your own case, and call your own witnesses. Small claims court is often less formal than other courts, and such cases take less time to complete. If your small claims case is complicated or if you feel that you need advice, most attorneys will be willing to advise you about your case and what you need to do.
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