Hiring a lawyer and suing someone is not as easy or stress free as it may seem on t.v. There is a lot more to the whole process than you may think so we have compiled a list of ten tips to help you be better prepared for what is to come.
- Know Your Goals
You may know that filing a lawsuit may be the only way for you to settle your dispute but what is your expected outcome. Besides winning, what do you hope to gain or accomplish with your lawsuit? Are you solely looking for monetary compensation or do you want the other party to be forced to act? List your goals and discuss these with your attorney to make sure they are realistic and accomplish-able.
- Understand That Litigation is Not Quick
Litigation can last several months to several years depending on the case, the amount of evidence, and the opposition’s willingness to negotiate. Your attorney can help give you a more realistic timeframe after reviewing your case information and evidence.
- It Can Cost More Than Money to Sue
Litigation can be expensive. It can also be time consuming, stressful, and emotionally draining. You may save time if the opposition is willing to settle with agreeable terms but be prepared to go all the way to trial to reach your goals.
- Be a Good Communicator
Your attorney cannot read your mind so be sure to be open about your expectations for your case as well as how often you want an update on your case and its progression. Also be sure to let them know how to best reach you – email, phone, cell, or text and respond as quickly as possible.
- Be Prepared to Share What You Know
Discovery is the process of sharing information with the opposing side. Be prepared to “show your cards” at this stage and then some. Florida’s definition of discovery is broad and allows either party to request any information relevant to the case, even information that is not admissible in court.
- Be Prepared to Go Over What The Opposition Knows
Discovery is a two way street – you may have to share what you know but so will the opposition. If you know that the opposition has access to certain information, be sure to advise your attorney so that it can be requested during discovery.
- Keep Your Emotions in Check
Litigation is stressful and the reason for your lawsuit can be founded in a number of buried emotions; loss, anger, grief, resentment. It may be difficult at times but you will need to be sure to always have a clear head and refrain from an emotional outburst, even if the opposing side attempts to provoke you. This will be paramount if you find your case going to trial. You don’t want your emotions to overshadow your case.
- Look Presentable
Like with your emotions, how you look will also reflect on your case. During negotiations, depositions, and at trial you should dress professionally and be properly groomed. How you look can leave an impression on the judge and/or the jury and you do not want that impression to be a bad one. Looking professional will also give the impression to the opposition that you are serious and committed to your cause.
- Attend All Depositions
Attending all depositions is a right you should be sure to take advantage of. Hearing the testimony of other witnesses may jog your own memory or alert you (and your attorney) that the witness is leaving something out because the right questions aren’t being asked. Be sure to speak with your attorney during break so that they can follow up.
- Be Open to Alternate Dispute Resolutions
Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a viable alternative to going to trial. In some cases, ADR may be more beneficial because it allow you to stay in control of the outcome of your case. At trial, a judge or jury will decide your case. Mediation and arbitration are both common examples of ADR. Both are lead by an unbiased third party, whose goal is to help both parties discuss their goals/defense and try to get each to see the other’s side. Keep in mind, any resolution found during arbitration may be legally binding; however, decisions made in mediation are not.