Precautions to Keep in Mind in Case of a Lawsuit
When it comes to filing lawsuits the US holds the top spot with 40 million lawsuits filed each year. In this particularly litigious landscape it can be easy to find yourself embroiled in a legal dispute with another person or entity. From matrimonial matters and breaches of contract to employment-related claims and personal injuries, the potential for a dispute to arise is high.
If you are considering legal action in order to resolve your issue of contention, it is important to first take steps to minimize the chances of a lawsuit. Not only will this mitigate the risk of a potentially lengthy and costly trial, but it will also make life easier for you and your litigation lawyer, should you choose to hire one. This article will outline some important precautions to keep in mind in case of a lawsuit.
Preserve EvidenceIt is important to maintain proper record-keeping and preserve evidence that is relevant to your dispute such as financial records, photographs, contracts and email. The more evidence you have in support of your case, the better your chances are of resolving your dispute or successfully defending your position in a lawsuit.
Such evidence will help your attorney to build your case but will also be needed at the discovery stage of your lawsuit. This is where the parties exchange information and evidence which can help them prepare for trial. Most courts require the parties to a dispute to maintain evidence and can penalize them if they fail to do so.
Under the doctrine of ‘adverse inference’ a court can infer that a party’s silence or failure to provide the evidence requested is due to the fact that the evidence would have been unfavorable to them. Drawing such a negative conclusion can potentially affect the outcome of your case.
Limit CommunicationsKeep in mind that all emails, letters, texts, and other correspondence between you and your adversary will form part of your case and serve as evidence should your dispute end up in court. It is essential that you keep your communications concise and relevant to the facts, avoiding any threats, personal attacks or admissions of guilt.
In order to minimize the risk of your words being misconstrued, it is advisable to maintain a professional and respectful tone at all times and to limit your communications to what is necessary.
Seek a SettlementPursuing or defending a lawsuit can be a lengthy, stressful, and expensive process. In addition to attorney’s fees you will incur court fees, fees for expert witnesses, and other costs associated with a lawsuit. While under the ‘American Rule’ each party to the proceedings is required to pay their own legal fees regardless of the outcome, in certain situations the judge has discretion to award fees to the prevailing party.
In simple cases, the amount of fees awarded may be a few thousand dollars, yet in highly complex litigation, courts have awarded fees reaching into the millions of dollars. Where possible, it is advisable to explore alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration, mediation, and negotiation.
Following the guidance in this article can help you to successfully navigate your dispute while positioning yourself favorably in case of a lawsuit.
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