If you are in a position where you need to vindicate your rights or receive compensation for your pain and suffering, knowing how to prepare for a lawsuit is important. Without properly organizing your claim or conveying important information to your lawyer, you could sabotage your own chances of succeeding.
So what are the necessary steps in getting prepared?
1. Get Organized. Pull together all your evidence, witnesses and other pertinent information before moving forward. Having all your documents, phone numbers, contacts and paperwork together is critical. Whether your claim is being filed in small claims court, or the local superior/municipal court, you should ensure that you have gathered as much evidence for your claim as possible. Doing so will also make your attorney happy and their job easier. The most common problem lawyers have in dealing with clients is the client’s failure to keep relevant details of their claim. While you may not have every piece of information, taking what you do have to your attorney will help them have it on hand when ready. By having access to this information, you allow your lawyer ample time to issue subpoenas and obtain necessary supporting documentation.
2. Hire A Lawyer. Choosing the right lawyer is critical. You should set up meetings with a few different attorneys to ‘interview’ them. Many people can determine right away whether an attorney is honest and forthcoming. In personal injury and workers’ compensation matters, most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. You should discuss your case with the attorney the chance of success or failure. Know there are risks to every case and make sure the attorney you choose is honest with you in what those risks are. Ask your attorney whether they will be giving you periodic updates on the status of the case in writing or by phone. Also ask whether they will be your main point of contact or will communications be delegated to a paralegal or secretary. You will also want to know how the attorney will be charging you for his fees. Some are paid hourly while others will be entitled to a percentage of what they recover on your behalf (contingency fee). If you are being charged hourly, make sure you know the rate and if your attorney is working on contingency basis, make sure you know the percentage he is entitled to from your financial settlement or judgment. Try to obtain an estimate of what the case will cost to litigate. Ask your attorney what kind of experience he/she has in regards to your case. Also consider the size of the firm you will be dealing with. There are advantages and disadvantages to both big and small firms. Small firms can be more personalized and possibly have more time for your case but large firms are often more feared and are more reputable. Larger firms also have greater resources and manpower.
3. Ask Your Lawyer The Right Questions – In addition to hiring the right attorney, your part is critical too in the relationship and the case. You don’t want to feel in the dark during your lawsuit, mostly because you haven’t asked the right questions. Remember that your attorney is working for you, if you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask your attorney to explain it to you. If the attorney isn’t willing to explain, you may have to retain a new one. Questions you will want to ask and be in the know about include:
• What stage the litigation is in?
• What are the court dates on calendar?
• Is your appearance needed at court, or only your attorney?
• What your possible recovery or remedies are? and
• What are the possible “negative” outcomes of your action?
While a lawsuit can be long and complicated, depending on your situation, the above three steps will help you get started in the process in a more successful way.
Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com”