Monday, January 15, 2007

Do Lawsuits Suit You?

From my weekly (AM) radio segment titled "Legal Minute".

We’ve all heard it before in movies, the dramatic “you’ll be hearing from my lawyer” before storming out of a room. But in real life, the decision to pursue a legal matter in court is an important one. Before contacting a lawyer, we should consider whether we have a case at all. If so, what are our damages? Is the statute of limitations in effect? What sort of lawyer will we need? Should we file in State or Federal court? Who is the defendant? Every lawsuit begins with a complaint. Then, the other party has an opportunity to respond in an answer. The other side may argue that the case has no merit and should be thrown out of court. If they don’t succeed, we move into discovery where each side tries to discover more facts about the other. At that point, an offer of settlement is often made. If the case doesn’t settle, we move forward to trial before a jury or a judge, known as a bench trial. Lawsuits are time consuming and becoming tangled up in a legal action can have a heavy financial and emotional toll. Lawsuits don’t always fit well.