To Sue or Not to Sue? Six Factors That May Influence Your Decision
Filing a lawsuit and seeing it through to its outcome can be a stressful and draining experience, even with the help of some of the top lawyers in Houston. Knowing whether your case is viable will help you decide if the effort and patience needed to press your suit are worth it.
If you file a lawsuit and want to win, you’ll need to work closely with your attorney to provide him or her with information about your case, including records and documents you may need to track down. You may also spend time in court and preparing for court if the matter goes to trial. Lawsuits often take some time to wind their way through the courts, so you’ll also need to be very patient throughout the process. That said, having an aggressive personal injury lawyer may help bring you lawsuit to a successful resolution in a faster time frame.
Not all lawsuits are worth pursuing. In some cases, the evidence will be too weak for even the best lawyers to prevail. In other cases, the evidence may clearly be in your favor, but the defendant may have so few assets that you will probably have little chance of recovering compensation, making the case not worth your time and energy.
If you’ve been injured and are thinking about suing, here are some factors you may take into consideration:
Do I have a case?
In personal injury cases, you’ll need to be able to prove that you were injured and that the defendant’s wrongful actions or negligence caused your injury. For example, if you were in an auto accident, to press a successful lawsuit you’ll need to prove that you were injured and that the defendant’s operation of his or her motor vehicle or his or her negligence caused your injury.
To prove these claims, you’ll need to be able to provide evidence of the incident that caused your injury, such as a police report, camera footage, etc. You’ll also need to provide proof regarding the severity of your injuries and their impact on your life. If property is involved, you’ll need to provide evidence of damage to your property and an estimate of the monetary value of that damage.
The defendant’s attorneys will do their best to knock down any claims you make and will try to find and admit evidence favorable to their client’s cause. Before choosing to file a lawsuit, you need to seriously examine your situation and determine whether you have a strong case and a reasonable chance of prevailing in court.
Can the defendant pay?
All the time and trouble of a lawsuit will have been for naught if the defendant is unable to pay a settlement or judgment. If you’re suing someone with no insurance and no assets, you may win your case but spend years waiting for While winning a case against someone who has wronged you can be emotionally satisfying, never receiving the compensation you’re due makes it hardly worth the effort.
The good news is that many individuals or businesses that you may have to sue will have insurance that will cover your damages. For example, if you are injured in a car crash and the crash was the result of the other driver, that driver’s insurer will typically be on the hook for damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine what your chance of recovery is, allowing you to make an informed decision regarding whether to sue.
Can you handle the stress of a lawsuit?
Lawsuits can be stressful for plaintiffs. It is important to have a Texas personal injury attorney who will help you understand the process. When you do not understand the process, lawsuits can be more stressful. But even when you do understand, there are still long nights worrying about the outcome of the case, hours spent in attorney and doctor’s offices, and nervousness about testifying in court, which can all make litigation a difficult experience for many. However, if you feel that you deserve compensation and you’re willing to go the distance, a favorable judgment or settlement can go a long way toward helping you recover from an accident. When deciding to sue, take your emotional health into consideration.
Are you within the statute of limitations?
Most states set a window for the amount of time that can pass between an accident or other occurrence and when a suit may be filed. This time period will vary from state to state, but one to three years is typical for most litigation. In Texas, the statute of limitation for a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the incident. Consulting with an attorney is the best way to determine whether your case falls within your state’s statute of limitations.
Where are the locations?
If you live in Arizona but got in a car accident in Louisiana, you may have to file your lawsuit in Louisiana. That means you’ll have to make trips to Louisiana for court dates and to confer with your attorney. If the stakes are high enough, this travel may be worthwhile, but, for a minor matter, you may have to consider whether the time commitment is worth your while.
Can you justify the legal fees?
Your attorney will want to be paid for his or her work on your case. In most circumstances, attorneys are paid on an hourly or contingent basis. If your attorney is paid hourly, you’ll agree to pay a set rate to your attorney for the time he or she puts into your case. If the case is complicated, or if it takes a long time to resolve, this can get quite expensive. Even if you lose the case, you’ll still be obligated to pay your attorney.
If your attorney is paid on a contingency basis, this means that your attorney will get a share of any settlement or judgment in your favor. If your attorney does not win, he or she receives nothing. Paying your attorney on a contingency basis reduces the financial risk of a lawsuit to you, but will also reduce the amount of money you receive in a settlement or judgment.
When deciding to sue, consider your options for paying an attorney and whether the money you can expect to win in the case will justify the expenses involved.
Why Settling Is Sometimes Your Best Option
Hundreds of thousands of civil lawsuits are filed each year, but most never go to trial. The vast majority of civil lawsuits filed end in a settlement. In a settlement, the defendant will agree to pay the plaintiff in return for the plaintiff dropping the suit. A settlement allows the plaintiff to get a guaranteed sum of money now, without the hazard of spending months in litigation and the risk of receiving nothing. The defendant gets to resolve the issue without expensive litigation and the risk of a potentially larger award at trial.
According to the Phoenix Business Journal, about 97 percent of civil cases are settled or dismissed without a trial. In cases that go to trial, plaintiffs are successful about 55 percent of the time. Most settlements in personal injury cases will range between $3,000 and $75,000, although, in some cases, plaintiffs can receive significantly more—or nothing.
Experienced attorneys can help you decide whether a lawsuit is worth filing. Good attorneys don’t want to waste their time or their clients’ time and will give you a recommendation based on the information about your potential suit that you provide.
Johnson Garcia LLP is a Texas law firm with years of experience in successfully litigating personal injury cases. If you’ve been injured and need an attorney who will patiently guide you through the legal process and answer any questions you have along the way, Johnson Garcia LLP is the right firm for you.