File a Lawsuit? How to Decide if It’s the Right Thing to Do
If you’ve suffered damages due to the fault of another party, you may be entitled to compensation from the other party, but you may have to file a lawsuit to receive fair compensation. The decision to file a lawsuit is not one which should be taken lightly, but there are some things you can do to help to decide whether or not to file a lawsuit.
How To Decide To File a Lawsuit
Evaluate Your Damages.
There are many reasons to file a lawsuit. Most people sue to be compensated for damages, or to get justice for a wrongdoing. There must be damages to have a viable lawsuit. If a person did wrong, but no harm came from it, there is no basis for a lawsuit. Damages can be a physical injury, property damage, monetary losses, pain and suffering, mental anguish and anything else which can be attributed to the incident.
One of the first things you have to evaluate when considering a lawsuit is if your damages warrant the effort of a lawsuit. It is a personal decision to evaluate whether or not your damages are worth the effort. For some people, collecting $1,000 in damages is worth every ounce of effort. For others, it would only be worth it if the damages were over $10,000. Your personal situation makes this a very subjective decision, which will vary from person to person. The important thing to evaluate is that lawsuits take time, effort, and typically cost money. It must be worth it to you, the plaintiff. This is true, even if that means suing out of principle, rather than for a large sum.
Talk to a Lawyer.
Once you have determined that there are damages, you need to speak with a lawyer. A personal injury lawyer should be able to determine whether or not you have a case without charging you any consultation fees. Shop around for a lawyer whom you feel comfortable discussing your case. Our office will never charge you a fee for a consultation. In fact, you will never owe us a penny, unless we make a recovery for you.
The lawyer will advise you about the steps you need to take to properly file your suit, and he or she can inform you about the steps in the process and the cost to you. In some cases, a law office will only collect fees from your judgement/ award. This means they don’t get paid unless you win your suit. When you speak with a lawyer, he or she will let you know if they are willing to take on the case on a contingency fee, which means the fee is paid, contingent on the success of the case. We take all our cases on a contingency fee.
If you are pursuing a suit, you’ll want to gather all of the evidence you can as quickly as possible. Most lawyers would recommend you do this at the scene of an accident if possible. At least do it as close to the event as humanly possible. Photos, witnesses, and statements can be very difficult to collect if they aren’t collected immediately. Financial documents or written materials may be easier to locate after the fact.
If you suffer a slip and fall incident, it is imperative you try and take photos of the scene. Photos of the scene are very difficult to recreate. Contemporaneous photos of what caused the fall can make or break your case.
Whom do you tell?
A lawsuit may become a matter of public record, but that doesn’t mean everyone will hear about it. That is why it is important to decide up front whether or not you want to discuss your case with your loved ones.
You are sure to hear some unwanted opinions about whether or not you should be suing another person. People have their opinions about a litigious society and frivolous lawsuits. You should be prepared for this. Also, know that you actually suffered a loss, or you wouldn’t be here. Many times a lawsuit is the only way to right the wrong which was done to you.
Family and friends can also be very supportive during your case. This can be very advantageous if you have any tough times during the case. Having a sounding board to complain about the process might be a good stress reliever.
Depending on the case, there may be sensitive elements you don’t want known by friends and family. This is an important consideration in deciding to file a lawsuit. If you absolutely don’t want the details of the incident to be known, you will have to consider the chance of others finding out about your suit. Your lawyer can talk to you more about the details of what is disclosed to the public, so you can better understand your risk. Also, in certain situations, a lawyer can file suit under the name of a pseudonym, such as Jane Doe.
Consider Contributory Negligence.
When deciding to file a lawsuit, you must also consider if your actions contributed to your damages. Florida is a contributory negligence state, which means the courts will lessen damages by the percentage of fault that can be attributed to the Plaintiff.
The courts often apply contributory negligence to cases because people are often only partially responsible for causing an accident. For example, in a slip-and-fall case, the court may find a plaintiff partially at-fault if they were distracted by their phone, or should have been able to reasonably see and avoid the hazard.
Your lawyer will help you determine if contributory negligence puts your damages at risk of being lessened to a point that a lawsuit is not worth proceeding with.
Consider long-term damages.
You may not think your damages are worth filing a lawsuit, but you also need to consider long-term damages. If you suffered medical damages, you need to determine how those damages will affect you for the rest of your life. You may suffer emotional damages, such as post-traumatic stress, and these can have a lasting impact on your life. The courts mean lawsuits to give you the means to live as if the incident that caused harm never happened. This isn’t possible with long-term damages, but you can receive fair compensation for your injuries.
How To Decide To File a Lawsuit
All of the above actions will help you in deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit. It is a personal, moral, and financial decision many people have opinions about. The best way to make the decision is to enlist the help of an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process and tell you what type of a case you have.
If you decide against a lawsuit, you must be mentally prepared to let go of the incident and accept the loss. Dwelling over the fact that you chose not to file a lawsuit is futile. That is why talking to a lawyer is so important. If you decide against it, at least you can rest more easily knowing that you sought the advice of an expert.
If you do decide a lawsuit is worth your while, make sure the lawyer you choose is one you feel you can trust. Your lawyer should not downplay your loss, but rather support you and help you find ways to move forward. At the end of your lawsuit, you need to feel a sense of fairness was achieved.
For a no-obligation consultation regarding a lawsuit you are considering, contact the law offices of Kirshner, Groff, & Diaz, and find out if you want to file a lawsuit.