As I have done various home improvement projects or repairs on my own, I have learned that the right tool can make all the difference in the world. 

A high-powered hammer-drill, for example, can be fun to use and is the right tool for drilling a hole into the solid concrete wall of my garage.  But, that amount of power is excessive when I am trying to unscrew the battery cover on my daughter’s toy.  A handy manual screwdriver does much better when finesse is needed. 

This is also true in the legal world.  Everybody wants their “day in court.”  But, even though it may sound strange coming from a trial attorney, that is not always the best option.  There are some problems that require a show of force and need to be taken to court to get the best result possible.  Such cases are what most trial attorneys live for; they often present fun challenges and are full of adrenaline-charged excitement.  But, that does not mean that going to trial is the right fit for all cases. 

Some cases may be better resolved through settlement before going to trial.  Other cases are better resolved through mediation or some other form of alternate dispute resolution.  Still other cases can be resolved through a simple demand letter and negotiations with the opposing party before a lawsuit is even filed.  There are even some cases that are not worth the fight at all. 

There are lots of considerations when trying to determine whether to file a lawsuit.  Those considerations include evaluating the chance of success and whether you can get a good result by other means.  In the heat of the moment, people will often say that it is about the principle of the thing.  But, it is important to not get caught up in the emotions of the moment and it is important to remember that there are other options.  Ask yourself the question, “why do you want to go to trial?”  Is it because you are caught up in the emotion of the heated dispute and you want to “punish” the opposing party?  Or is it because there really is not a better way to get the desired result?

One important consideration when determining whether to file a lawsuit is the cost of the fight compared to what you may win.  Are you going to win enough in the lawsuit to cover what you would spend in attorney fees to go to trial?  In other words, is it worth it for you to “spend a dollar to save a dime?”  As an extreme example, it may not be worth it to hire an attorney to go guns-a-blazin’ and proceed to trial against someone over a $100.00 dispute.

Make sure you know your options.  I have had good results in some cases by simply calling or writing a letter to the opposing side and threatening a lawsuit.  In other situations, I have had to file the lawsuit first before the opposing party is willing to talk about a settlement.  Sometimes, a settlement is facilitated through an impartial mediator.  During mediation, an impartial third party will speak back and forth with each party to help them arrive at some middle ground.  Mediation is almost always less expensive than going to trial; it is also often a much quicker way to resolve the dispute since it can take considerable time before a case would go to trial.

Trial attorneys like to go to trial; but that is not the only solution; each case is different.  Your case may be able to be resolved by your attorney sending a simple demand letter and/or negotiating with the opposing party.  It might be able to be resolved through mediation with an impartial third party.  A good attorney will work with you to determine the best course of action, and will have many tools in his/her toolbelt.  A good attorney will sit with you and discuss the pros and cons of proceeding towards trial in a particular case and will help you evaluate at each stage of the dispute whether you are on the right path. 

If you think you may have a case that needs to go to trial, call the experienced trial attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC, in our Sioux Falls law firm, Sioux City law firm, and Omaha law firm.  We can help you evaluate the strength of your case and help you decide the best course of action. For more trial information and advice, visit out Trial Law Review.


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