Before you get involved in legal action (litigation) of any kind, it’s important for you to prepare yourself. People commonly make litigation mistakes that lead to significant losses—time, money, and the case itself.
Avoid These 5 Litigation Mistakes!
The following are mistakes we’ve seen all too often, and we want to help you avoid them.
1. Trying to Do it on Your Own
People attempt to navigate legal matters on their own for various reasons. They might think they’ll save money, or the issue seems simple and easy enough for them to handle alone, or they have their own ideas of how to deal with it and have the confidence to do it themselves.
This is a mistake. Lawyers exist for a purpose. The law is extremely complex, and lawyers study and train for years before they have the basic foundational knowledge necessary to manage litigation with any professionalism. Naturally, the more experience a lawyer has, the more knowledgeable they become.
People often understand some of the legal aspects of their case, but they make the mistake of focusing on only one part of it, or they focus on the wrong thing entirely. This is simply because of their lack of legal expertise.
If your legal issue is something fairly straightforward—like filing articles of incorporation, for example—you might manage just fine on your own. But especially with riskier matters like a lawsuit, a large business deal, or if you’re the victim of a serious wrong, professional legal representation is a must.
2. Waiting Too Long to Talk to a Lawyer
Sometimes a person has every intention of hiring a lawyer, but they wait too long. When this happens, they may miss important limitation dates. A situation can escalate if you wait too long to involve a lawyer, and that can make the lawyer’s job much harder, which can make it more costly and time-consuming to resolve.
3. Ignoring the Costs and Benefits of Litigation
Litigation costs time and money, so it’s important to perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine if pursuing litigation is worth it. Your lawyer can help you figure this out and suggest alternatives if your situation isn’t worth a lengthy litigation process.
Think about it this way: If you knew you would win a lawsuit, but the judgment was less than you spent on the litigation, would it still be worthwhile? Maybe it would be. Sometimes people decide to proceed on principle alone. But it’s important to be realistic about the potential costs and realistic benefits of litigation.
Sometimes it costs less to settle a lawsuit instead of fighting it. Even if you believe you’re innocent, it might cost you more to try to prove that in court than it would to simply pay a lesser amount to resolve the matter out of court.
If you want to sue a defendant who doesn’t have the money or assets to pay you, is it worth paying for litigation if all you get in the end is a judge’s favourable verdict?
Don’t let your emotions influence your decision to pursue litigation. Evaluate what you hope to gain, then analyze the likelihood of achieving that goal compared to the costs involved, including potential damage to your reputation and relationships, time, energy, and the emotional toll.
4. Failing to Tell Your Lawyer Everything
Communication is key when working with a lawyer. Your lawyer needs to know everything, even if it hurts your case. They will find out anyway, so it’s better to tell them upfront so they can prepare to deal with it adequately.
Your lawyer needs to know your goals and your budget constraints. Talk to them about your concerns. This enables them to address your needs and assist you more effectively. Your lawyer can help you understand what a reasonable or attainable outcome may be.
Good communication involves listening, too. Be attentive to your lawyer. Listen to their advice. Even if you ultimately decide not to follow their advice for some reason, be sure you fully understand their advice and the reasoning behind it. This ensures you’re making informed decisions.
5. Having Problematic Documentation/Evidence
Documentation is vital to successful litigation. But this is a two-sided coin:
- On one side, there’s the importance of documenting everything that’s helpful to your case.
- On the other side, you don’t want to keep unnecessary and excessive documentation, and you must be careful about what you put in writing. For example, a written statement—like a text message—is more condemning evidence than someone’s testimony of what you said. Also, posting about your case on social media can be detrimental.
Your lawyer can help you figure out what to keep records of and what isn’t important.
Get Legal Counsel Before You Get Involved in Litigation
Getz Collins and Associates offers a wide variety of litigation and dispute resolution services. Avoid common litigation mistakes and consult with an lawyer before it’s too late. If you have questions or are seeking guidance related to a new or ongoing matter, contact us to schedule a consultation.