Our laws exist for a reason – to keep us safe and protect our property. Yet it can be difficult to know when to utilize the legal system to carry out those protections. If you are considering filing a lawsuit again a person, group or company, you should be able to answer the following questions first.
Have you attempted to settle your issue personally first?
The best first step to take before filing a lawsuit against anyone is to make a sincere attempt at resolving your issue on your own. If you were the victim of an honest accident or mistake, the other party may agree to work with you to find an amicable solution outside of the courts. If it doesn’t work, then at least you can prove that you tried to make a good faith gesture to solve the problem independently.
Does the other party know you are prepared to file a lawsuit?
If your good faith gesture failed, be clear that you are considering taking legal action against the other party if you cannot resolve your differences on your own. Making this understood up front could prompt the other side to make concessions just to avoid having to go through the courts.
Is there sufficient funds from the other side to pay?
When disputing an issue with an individual, you need to be sure that they have the money to pay out any damages they caused. If they do not have the financial means to pay, even a successful lawsuit can’t make that money appear from nothing. Most lawyers will want to know the potential assets that a client has before even agreeing to take a case to court. In a case involving an organization or business, chances are there is an insurance company behind the other party, who can make the required payments. These typically end up being the more successful kinds of cases that law firms pursue.
Which court is the right venue for your lawsuit?
To answer this question, you must be able to answer two related questions.
- How much money are you hoping to win if your lawsuit is successful?
If your case is a dispute over a few hundred dollars, then your case needs to be addressed in small claims court. You would typically defend yourself instead of needing a lawyer. If your case is worth over $5,000, then you would be better off with an experienced lawyer representing you in order to win the best possible outcome.
- Are you the only victim or does this affect a broader group of people?
If you are the only person affected, your case will most likely be heard in a county court. County courts are best suited to deal with local disputes affecting only one person. If your case is larger and affects a broader group of people, your legal team will most likely bring your case before a state or even federal court. You may be one of many people hoping to receive compensation from a company or organization in larger cases like this.
Are you aware of the Statute of Limitations for your case?
Many crimes have a ticking clock for when you are able to file a lawsuit against someone. This time frame is known as the Statute of Limitations. In some cases, you must file within one or two years of the incident. For some crimes, there is no statute of limitations, meaning a lawsuit could be filed at any time. In New Jersey, most personal injury claims must be started within two years of the incident. But for breeches of contract or property damage, you have up to six years to file. Your lawyer can help you determine which statutes apply for your specific case.
Are you willing to put in the time and money to see your case through?
Bringing a lawsuit to court is a time-consuming venture. Be sure that you are willing to put in the time, effort and emotional commitment before deciding to file. Court cases all come with fees and other costs, too, so be sure that the amount you expect to win can cover these costs as well.
Contact the right lawyer.
If you can answer the questions above and believe you are ready to file a lawsuit, contact the right lawyers to handle your case. For accidents and personal injury cases in New Jersey, the New Jersey accident lawyers at Keefe Bartels have a proven track record of success. Contact them today for a free consultation of your case.