Most people manage to make it through life without ever being involved in a lawsuit. If you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to file a lawsuit or having a suit filed against you, you probably don’t know exactly what to expect. Unfortunately, lawsuits are glorified in the media and misleadingly portrayed as exciting and gratifying events. In reality, most lawsuits are much less thrilling and much more stressful than the media lets on. As a result, very few people truly appreciate what they are getting themselves into. While you may recognize that litigation can be expensive and risky, here are a few things that you may not have considered:
Litigation can be extremely stressful. In general, fear of the unknown and lack of control are some of the primary reasons why people “stress out” in life. When first considering litigation, you may feel strongly that you are “in the right” and may be so angry that you are not able to fully appreciate the risk and stress involved with your suit. If you’re like most people, you fail to appreciate the fact that you can’t control the outcome of the litigation and you won’t know the outcome until after the case has been put in the judge or jury’s hands to decide. It’s easy to forget that judges and juries are humans, and even when the best lawyers present all of the right information, the judge or jury doesn’t always “get it right”. If you are considering litigation you should be prepared to handle the stress caused by being unable to control the outcome of your case.
Litigation is can be extremely time-consuming. Some people have the false impression that they can turn their case over to their lawyer, check in on the case from time to time and otherwise go about their normal lives. This is rarely the case in any significant litigation. As a litigant, you will need to be heavily involved the litigation process, meaning you may be required to gather masses of documents, review the important information in your case, attend depositions, and regularly consult with your attorney regarding important decisions, all under strict deadlines. Being involved with significant litigation is akin to taking on an additional part-time (or even full-time) job, a commitment that should not be underestimated.
Litigation can be extremely invasive. Depending on the nature of your case, you may be required to divulge very sensitive information about yourself, such as your financial condition, your medical history, and your personal life. Being in litigation can be like having the other side rummage through your dresser drawers while you stand and watch. Even if you have nothing to hide, this process is not fun and many people are shocked to find out that one of the hidden costs of litigation is giving up some privacy.
Therefore, before “charging” into Court, you would be wise to consider exactly what you are getting yourself into. You should carefully weigh ALL the costs and benefits of filing a lawsuit (including the effect on your personal life and mental health), and should seriously consider the alternatives, such as settlement and mediation. If you ultimately decide to push forward with litigation, we think we’re pretty good at guiding our clients through the process, but an important part of that process is giving our clients an HONEST appraisal of what to expect BEFORE they dive in.
To schedule a consultation and learn more, please call our Harrisonburg office at 540-433-2444 today.