To Sue or Not to Sue
There are many considerations when deciding whether or not to pursue your case or not. Suing a person or business requires time, money and effort. You will be representing yourself, and you must appear and file any papers required of you. Before filling a lawsuit, consider if the rewards will be worth it – or even if you can collect.
- Can the person you are suing pay you if you win your case?
Part of the effort begins even before you file your paperwork with the correct court. Do a little research on the property or business of the party you wish to sue. There is often no sense in "throwing good money [your money] after bad money [that is the money you already have lost]. Many times lawyers will advise clients against suing, even when the clients are perfectly right and the defendant may not have any defense. While clients do not always understand this, it stems from the experience of having seen the uselessness of suing a person who really may have no assets.
- Attempt to resolve the problem with a demand letter. State your problem and the results you want with a deadline for action.
In deciding whether to sue, be sure to at least attempt to alert the other party to the problem. Most states will require that, at the very least, you send a letter identifying the problem and demanding the other party fix the problem. Be diplomatic when sending this demand letter. Once drafted and sent to the other party, you may be able to bring this letter to court and have it help your case.
Also, there are many times when such a letter will resolve the matter and avoid a lawsuit.
When you send a demand letter, properly address it to the other party. You will be required to take the time to locate the full name of the person or company and their full address. Identify the problem clearly in your letter. You should tell the party how the problem is affecting you and detail your losses.
You should give them a deadline to pay or to act. Your letter should be sure to state where they should pay or act. Finally, you should tell them what you will do after the deadline expires.
You will be doing everything from start to finish. Winning your case will take more time than taking off your court date. Time will be spent researching your case and the person or entity from the other party, filling the correct paperwork, compiling evidence and speaking to witnesses. Properly preparing your case is essential. Also, your court date may be postponed to allow other parties more notice or more time to prepare or for more evidence or if witnesses are unavailable. Be sure to factor several days off of work into your equation when deciding to sue.
Each court is different, but you should be prepared to pay a filing fee and possibly other fees. While these fees are not exorbitant, you must pay them when you file, otherwise your case will not be filed. If the filing fees cost close to the amount you’re suing for and you lose, you might be out of pocket twice the amount of money. In any lawsuit, the amount of money you will spend to win your case is a decision made by you, not an attorney.
Remember, if you have any questions deciding to pursue a case or lawsuit, we’re here to help. Contact member services or your plan attorney at no cost and some peace of mind.