Initiating a Lawsuit
Before commencing litigation, explore alternatives as litigation can be costly and emotionally draining. However, once the decision is made to commence litigation, it should be done with the intentionally of possibly taking the case all the way to trial. Once litigation has commenced, most cases do settle, but one must be prepared to ultimately complete the litigation by sending the matter to the jury or the judge for a decision. See below for alternatives to litigation.
Defending Against a Lawsuit
It is very important to consult with an attorney immediatly upon having been served the summons and complaint. Many medium and small business owners make the mistake of trying to resolve the matter (and most believe they can) before a response is to be made before consulting with an attorney. Then, when the negotiations do not resolve the matter, they go to an attorney who has little time to file a proper response, and in some instances, gather information necessary to prepare important counterclaims or cross-claims. Typically you have twenty days to respond to a complaint, but whatever the timeframe is, don't squander that time. If you need an attorney consult, fill out and sumbit the questionnaire on this page to begin your consult with an attorney.
Alternatives to Litigation
Conciliation: The parties may meet informally to negotiate terms of a new agreement in order to solve the problem. Often, a conciliation is conducted with the assistance of an attorney representing the "transaction," or attorneys representing each party to the transaction. Conciliation is an option if both parties agree, even after litigaiton has commenced.
Mediation: Mediation may be entered into voluntarily, or the contract may provide for disputes to be resolved through mediation. Most often, one mediator is mutually selected by the parties to help discuss the issues, possibly propose solutions and govern over the signing of a mediation agreement. Sometimes there may be more than one mediator involved. If no mediation agreement is signed, then typically whatever is agreed upone in the mediation may be invalidated. Sometimes the parties find themselves unable to agree to terms, which is called an impasse, which may or may not allow for the mediation to re-convene. Mediation is often available once litigation has started.
Arbitration: Arbitration works much like court litigation, though sometimes can operate a bit more informally, and also may offer a great deal more privacy. Often arbitration is selected as a mandatory dispute resolution requirement instead of court litigation in contracts.
Get a better idea about your legal options by completing
and submitting the questionnaire on this page.