The last thing we discussed was the importance of planning. Of exploring options and doing enough research to know what those options were. Let’s look at that in a little more detail.
As I tried to get across, it is important to know long before you file a lawsuit whether or not you have a viable case, whether or not you’re suing the right people and whether or not you’re suing them for the right things.
Don’t take this lightly. At Be Your Own Lawyer we help people every day, and it would probably amaze you at how much time we spend, and of course money we charge to go back and fix things that were done wrong because they were in a rush to “get that lawsuit filed!”
The potential dangers could go further. Every jurisdiction that we’re aware of has some form of cause of action for frivolous lawsuits, or abuse of process (filing lawsuits without merit) It’s no secret that the United States has for the last fifty years or so experienced a litigation explosion. “Sue the bastards” and “anyone can sue anybody for anything” became the bywords of the legal profession. In an effort to try to address the problem, legislatures crafted laws and statutes that created remedies for people that were sued without cause. These include actual damages, including attorney’s fees and court costs. They could include things like damage to reputation or emotional distress. They can also include punitive damages.
This is not to suggest that you should not consider filing a lawsuit if you feel aggrieved. None of these statutes penalize the commencement of a legitimate suit, but just make sure you have your ducks in a row before you go charging off to the courthouse.
So what planning should you be doing? I’ve touched on it before, but here are some things you should be considering.
What am I suing for?
You may feel cheated, hurt, wronged or just plain irritated about something, but it’s important to sit down and marry your grievance to some legal basis of recovery. If some one took your money without giving you in return what you thought you were paying for, what kind of case is it.
Breach of contract? Fraud? Conversion?
Now is the time to get help with researching the legal theories and principles that apply to your situation.
Now here’s an important thing to be careful of. There are a lot of “self-help” legal sites out there with fill in the blank forms and sample court papers that you can download and edit. If you’re sure that these happen to match your case then great, go for it. But be careful. If there is one common message in legal stuff that comes up over and over again, it’s “one size does not fit all.”
Who Do I sue?
In my last post, Plan, Plan, Plan I touched on this issue. Let’s continue it a bit. Life is a complex maze of interconnected people, things and experiences. While I suppose there are those cases out there that are so straightforward and simple that there is only one option, they are far and few between.
Last time I talked about this I used a businessman and his corporation to show you that the first glance most obvious option may not be the only one, and may not even be the best.
Just to drive this home, let’s look at a different scenario. Let’s get away from contracts and fraud and look at a car accident. Car A is driving down Main Street when car B pulls out of a business parking lot into its path causing an accident.
Now the first thing that you will probably say is that it’s obvious who we sue. We sue the driver of car B.
Wow. You’ve just scratched the surface of the proverbial iceberg in terms of potential or possible other defendants. Now it may in fact be as simple as what appears at first blush. Driver B may have just not been paying attention and “bam!”
The problem though is that even though no one was hurt, it turns that Driver B has only $5,000 in property damage insurance coverage, which will not quite pay for the totaled $25,000 car A.
What to do……
If you do not yourself understand, or have the resources to understand all of the potential theories of recovery, you could be making a very costly mistake.
Let’s look at some of the possible things that you might have missed were you the owner/driver of car A. Consider:
– The parking lot that Car B was exiting had some very beautiful planters decorating the entrance. Looked great but the problem was, they were close enough to the roadway that it blocked driver B’s ability to see oncoming traffic. A good potential defendant to add.
– The driver of car B was picking up her boss’s dry cleaning in the chopping center and was returning to work. A second great defendant to invite to the party.
– Or, the driver of car B had been visiting the little tavern located in the shopping center and had had several beers too many. A little checking would show you that the bar tender had suggested that he had had a bit much to drink and should take it easy. A third defendant to add to the mix.
It should be obvious by now, just from the two cases that we tossed out there, that the need for help and legal research comes long before you run to the courthouse, suit papers in hand.
The good thing is that if you let us at Be Your Own Lawyer help you with this, it won’t cost you a dime! That’s right.
Visit to the website www.beyourownlawyer.organd read it for yourself. There is NO COST and NO OBLIGATION to have your case assessed.
Be Your Own Lawyer will assess your case at absolutely no cost and with no obligation whatsoever. That means you give us all the facts and we’ll check the law and tell you what your options are. We’ll give you an idea of who to sue and what for if you are the plaintiff. If you are the defendant, we’ll give you your options as far an challenging jurisdiction, filing a motion to dismiss, filing an answer, or even and answer an a counterclaim.
None of this will cost you one cent (email is very inexpensive)!
Let’s cut to the chase. Would you not feel foolish if you had missed a defendant or a cause of action, or missed getting out of a lawsuit altogether on jurisdiction, when all you had to so was ask for a free case assessment?