What You Should Know Before You File a Lawsuit

1. Unless the party you're suing is already at the negotiating table (or close to it), it will likely be a year or two before you see any money from the case, possibly more. Do not count on any award to meet your financial needs in the short term.


2. Do not count on any award to meet your financial needs in the long term. Basically, don't count on any award period. I've seen strong cases where a party was awarded less than I thought fair and I've seen cases where a party was awarded more than I thought reasonable. There are no gaurantees in litigation.  Judges are unpredictable. Juries are unpredictable. Just because your lawyer files a complaint asking for a million dollars, that does not mean that your lawyer believes that the case is valued at a million dollars. We must ask for the most you can reasonably get rather than the amount we will likely get. 


3. If you have done anything bad (usually something that makes you look untrustworthy) and there is any sort of public record, it will be used against you. It may not be admissible but that doesn't mean they won't depose you about it or use it as settlement leverage.


4. Similary to No. 3, they will dig into your personal and professional lives to see if they can find anything bad. Just because you're clean does not mean that they will not go looking.


5. Like a marriage, there will be times during your case where you want out and times when you want to stick it out for the long-haul. This is normal. Litigation is emotionally taxing. Any good lawyer will know this and will try to help, to a reasonable degree.


6. That being said, your lawyer does not have a degree in counseling. While the human side of us wants to help talk you through your stress and concerns stemming from your lawsuit (or the events that lead to the lawsuit), we are not well-equipped to be your therapist. Our job is to represent you to the best of our ability. That will mean that sometimes when we're in the throws of your case and things are heating up, we won't be able to take a beat and offer you emotional support. Trust that we're doing the best thing we can do for your case and time spent away from that is ultimately not good for you. 


7. Even when if you win, and have a judgment in hand, the case is not necessarily over. If the defendant does not pay up immediately, you may have to spend time and money on collections or possibly even fight an appeal.


8. Money isn't everything. I've advised clients to walk away from viable cases (before filing) because either they could not emotionally handle it or the stress and time was not worth the money that they would win should they prevail.  Litigation is a big time committment. Be sure that it's necessary. If anything, have an attorney try and negotiate settlement. 


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