Civil lawsuits are often the only thing you can do to right some wrongs. If the police or public prosecutors won’t or can’t get involved, and if you’re feeling like the criminal justice system has failed you, then you have the right to file a lawsuit against the person that has caused you significant distress or harm.
However, moving forward with a civil lawsuit can feel like entering Kafka’s Trial.
Not only can these legal processes last for very long, but they can also be very costly. The expenses might eventually reduce the amount that you win (if you do win in the first place), or even end up costing you money. So, proceed with caution and only after you’ve reconsidered the following things.
Your Lawsuit Depends on a Strong Case
The reason behind your decision to file a civil lawsuit may be straightforward and obvious from a laic’s point of view. But just because something is obvious doesn’t mean that it’s legally viable. All lawsuits must be broken into a series of legally required steps and elements that may not work in your favor.
If you’re expecting a win, then each and every one of these requirements must be satisfied and accounted for. This means not only that you’ll need a very solid proof for every claim, but also that all your claims will have to be written in a clear-cut legal language that will be impossible to argue against.
Settlement Alone Might Not Be Enough
Mediation of differences between two parties can be done outside of court, and it’s traditionally the best the way to reach a settlement in a civil lawsuit. In some cases, such mediation is mandatory, which means that you will need to sit down with the other side before you can set an actual trial date.
The settlement is a good way to avoid long-lasting and expensive court processes, so try your best to put an end to a dispute before you head to the courthouse. Unfortunately, not all settlements are successful. If the other side refuses to compensate you for your troubles, then the court is the only option.
Collecting Judgment Can Be Difficult
Another thing you need to consider before you file a civil lawsuit is the ability to collect judgment as a winner. Unless you’re using out of principle, the question of whether or not the other party can pay you a monetary judgment is pretty much critical. If they don’t have the money, then what’s the point?
In the event that a sued party can’t pay a monetary judgment once they are found guilty, there are other options you can choose from. You can use collection techniques like bank account levies, property liens, and wage garnishments to access their assets, but that’s more work and more money.
You Might Not Be Able to See It Through
An amount of money you will need for filing a civil lawsuit will depend on many factors, but it will most certainly include document preparation and filing fees, as well as witness payments if you’re going to have any. All that on top of attorney fees can amount to a hefty sum that you may not have to spare.
If you’re determined to sue even though you don’t have the means to see the legal process through, then you might have to choose settlement. In case you’re short on money to cover these expenses too, you can apply for lawsuit settlement loans. A loan can keep you afloat until you collect the judgment.
Attorney Fees Might Render It Pointless
Of course, the aforementioned fees are only a small portion of the full amount you’ll need to pay in order to move forward with your lawsuit and eventually see it litigated to conclusion. A contingency fee, which most lawyers charge as a percentage of the amount won, is usually around 30-40 percent.
Other attorneys prefer retainer arrangements, which basically require a sizable down payment, and are even more expensive than contingency fees. Plus, if you don’t win, you may be legally obliged to pay not only for yours but also for the defendant’s attorney. The risk may be bigger than the reward.
All this is to say – don’t file a civil lawsuit until you’ve really thought it through. Suing a person who’s done you wrong can be incredibly expensive even if you’re certain that you have a solid case. It’s yet another problematic aspect of our criminal justice system, so be very careful if you decide to tackle it.