Time Can Hurt Your Case. Consult with an Attorney as Soon as a Dispute Arises.
Consulting with an experienced attorney as soon as a dispute or potential dispute arises gives you the best opportunity for a successful outcome.
It is natural to procrastinate when a problem arises. You may be too busy to deal with an unexpected problem as soon as it arises. You may want to attempt to resolve the dispute yourself to avoid paying an attorney. You may hope that the problem will go away on its own with the passage of time. All of these are risky strategies that can seriously harm your case. Delay might also significantly increase your cost of resolving the dispute.
Your attorney may be able to help you resolve your dispute without litigation.
Even the savviest business person needs help from an attorney who knows the law and who is experienced as an advocate before judges, juries, and arbitrators. Perhaps your attorney can find exculpatory evidence that you can use. Perhaps a provision of your contract or a statute clearly determines which party is liable. Perhaps the contract or the law is completely ambiguous in your situation, which can persuade the other party to come to an agreement to avoid the risk of litigation.
Your attorney might be able to negotiate a settlement with the other side that achieves what you want. Your attorney can also advise you if doing nothing for the time being is the best option in your circumstance. At the very least, your attorney can advise you on your likelihood of success should you or the other side choose to pursue litigation. Simply knowing your litigation risk will empower you to determine how aggressive you should be in your dealings with the other party and whether you have negotiated a fair bargain for yourself or your business. You will not know what possibilities exist unless you consult with an attorney.
What you say and do can be used against you in a court of law.
Almost anything you say or do pre-litigation, or after the lawsuit is filed, can be used against you in a court of law. This rule applies to civil litigation. It is not just limited to criminal cases. On the other hand, you cannot usually use your own prior statements to benefit yourself in court. Many statements and actions, no matter how innocent or well intentioned, may be taken out of context or misinterpreted. It is quite easy to make a bad situation worse. Your attorney can advise you on how to manage the other party in a dispute, including advising you on what to say and do, editing your correspondence, and communicating directly with the other side on your behalf.
Your attorney can advise you on how to avoid being sued.
Once a dispute arises, should the manufacturer stop shipping products to its customer? Should the contractor stop construction? Can the former employee who believes he was wrongfully terminated ignore the non-compete clause in his employment agreement with the former employer?
The contract (if one exists) and/or the law will dictate what you can or cannot do. A good attorney will study the facts, the contract(s), and the law to advise you on your options.
You may need to prepare for litigation.
In the event that litigation is likely, you need a good attorney to help you prepare. Your attorney should advise you on:
- Gathering and preserving evidence;
- Finding and interviewing witnesses;
- Investigating the opposing parties and their financial abilities to pay a judgment;
- Choosing the best forum for the lawsuit;
- Deciding whether to file the lawsuit first or wait to be sued; and
- Exploring alternatives to litigation, such as mediation or arbitration.
Do not let the statute of limitations expire on your claims.
A statute of limitations is a legally imposed deadline for a person to file a lawsuit against another person. Once the statute of limitations has expired, a person is barred from filing a lawsuit, even if the claims are otherwise meritorious and that person suffered significant damages. The law on statutes of limitations can sometimes be unclear. For that reason, it is best to consult with an attorney as soon as a dispute or potential dispute arises. For more information on statutes of limitations, see: Statutes of Limitations: Do Not Wait Until it is Too Late to File Your Case.
Evidence can disappear with the passage of time.
Witnesses die. Memories fade. Documents disappear. Many organizations automatically destroy documents after a certain number of years. If your business periodically destroys documents, and your business has reasonable notice of a dispute, your business may need to place a hold on the destruction of certain evidence to avoid future sanctions for spoliation of evidence.
If you decide not to pursue litigation immediately, you should at least create a plan with the help of your attorney on how to preserve the evidence you need.
Consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Consequently, as soon as a dispute or potential dispute becomes apparent, it is best to consult with an attorney regarding possible solutions to the dispute. At Schklar & Heim, LLC, we represent clients in a variety of disputes and litigation. If you have a dispute or potential dispute, contact the experienced litigation attorneys of Schklar & Heim, LLC at 404-888-0100.