Counting the Cost of a Civil Lawsuit Before You File

A good attorney doesn’t jump at every opportunity to file civil lawsuits. Attorneys know enough to count the cost of any action they might pursue. Consumers could learn a lesson from them. Businesses could, too. That lesson is one of counting the cost of a civil lawsuit before filing.

Although civil litigation can be an effective tool for settling disputes, it is not all sunshine and roses. Civil litigation comes at a cost, a cost that can be measured in several different ways. Not counting that cost could lead to pretty big regrets later on.

Litigation Costs Money

One of the easiest ways to measure the cost of civil litigation is to look at actual financial expenditures. At the top of the list is legal representation. Unless you are willing to act as your own attorney, you’re going to have to pay for legal services. They are not cheap.

Depending on the type of case you are looking at, you may have to pay an hourly fee. You might also get away with a consignment arrangement. Yet regardless of the payment model, you will pay for legal services. Do you stand to gain enough to make that cost worthwhile?

In addition, you will have other costs relating to court filings, producing documentation, conducting record searches, and so forth. So even acting as your own attorney will not make filing a lawsuit free.

Litigation Takes Time

The cost of civil litigation can also be measured in time. Everything in the legal world is governed by it. Once you file your lawsuit, you may have to wait up to 30 days for the defendant to respond. Then you will have to wait for a court date to be scheduled. That date could be months, or even years, down the road.

Whatever you do after the fact will also take time. Let us say you file a lawsuit seeking a monetary award and you win. Now you need to collect. According to Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors, it’s not unusual for collection to take years.

A process that you begin this year could still be ongoing five years from now. It could be a decade before you actually receive payment. Are you willing to put in that kind of time?

Civil Litigation Is Stressful

Money and time are easier things to measure. But there is a cost to civil litigation that is much harder to quantify: the toll it takes on you personally. Needless to say, civil litigation is stressful. There is no easy way to put it. Should you choose to go to court, you are going to feel the weight of it – both mentally and emotionally.

Depending on the type of case you are involved in, you could be drained emotionally. You could find yourself struggling to sleep at night. The stress could even interfere with some of your relationships. Are you willing to endure that stress?

Not as Easy as TV Makes It Look

None of this is meant to dissuade you from filing suit. Rather, the point is just to make you aware that civil litigation is not as easy as TV makes it look. Going to court is serious business. It is not something anyone should take lightly. Those who file lawsuits should not do so glibly.

Should you think things over and determine that moving forward with civil litigation is worth the potential cost, by all means go for it. Litigation could be the best tool for settling the dispute at hand. But if it is not worth the cost, perhaps you should step back and look at other options.