It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of a dispute. When that happens, you might consider suing the other party “out of principle.” However, you should first consider if the dispute is worth the fight. Below are five out of many possible factors to consider when deciding whether to bring a lawsuit, in no particular order.
Factor 1: Amount in Dispute
It is important to keep a good perspective on what a case is really worth. Be conscious of what the best possible outcome could be and also what the most likely value of the case is. With that information, you can better determine how much effort is worth being expended to try and get that result. The larger the dispute, the more time and effort it may be worth spending on it. As an extreme example, if someone owes you $50, it is likely not worth it to file a formal lawsuit simply due to the cost of the court filing fees. On the other end of the spectrum, if another business owes your business $5 million, it may be worth spending a good deal of effort to get that money from the other company.
Factor 2: Cost of the Fight
After determining the best possible outcome and likely value of the case, it is important to estimate how much it may cost you to fight for the outcome. People often say they don’t care about the cost or that it is about the “principle of the thing,” until they see the first bill for attorney fees. Lawsuits can get expensive between attorney fees, court costs, and expert witnesses. While it is rarely possible to determine exactly how much cost will be needed to take a dispute all the way to a resolution, it is important to consider the costs that can be anticipated. Is it worth it in that particular case to “spend a dollar to save a dime?”
Factor 3: Likelihood of Success
Another key factor is the likelihood of getting a successful outcome. While rarely is anything a sure thing, the more ironclad your arguments or rock solid your evidence, the more likely you are to get an early settlement for a higher dollar figure without spending as much effort on the case. On the other hand, if you have a weaker case and you are not likely to prevail, you need to ask yourself whether it is worth the expenditure of time and money to end up losing.
Factor 4: Possible Counterclaims
In the heat of the moment, a case might seem very one-sided in your favor. But, it is important to take a step back and look at the potential case from the other side’s perspective. Are there any reasons why they might try to bring a counterclaim against you, even if it is a weak claim? Especially if the other side has a weaker claim, they might not even be considering spending the time, money, and effort to sue you. But, as soon as you sue them, and they have to hire an attorney to defend the lawsuit, they are more likely to bring a counterclaim against you. Counterclaims complicate cases, can make them more expensive, and make it harder to simply walk away if it no longer makes sense to pursue a lawsuit.
Factor 5: How Long Until Resolution
The wheels of justice turn slowly. Depending on the size and complexity of a lawsuit, it can take 18 months or even longer before you have a resolution to the dispute. It is important to have a realistic expectation about this and determine whether it is worth it to you to spend that amount of time before hopefully getting the resolution you seek.
If you have a potential dispute with another individual or business, please contact the experienced trial attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC, in our Omaha, Sioux City, or Sioux Falls offices to evaluate your case and help you determine the right path to get the best resolution possible.