We are often asked this question. Most of the time, the answer is “yes.” Peoples’ instincts are usually correct. When something happens that seems wrong, in most cases there can be a legal remedy. However, this question is a bad one and does not lead to a helpful answer. A better question is “do I have a case that is worth pursuing in court?” When this question is asked, most of the time the answer is “no”. Obtaining answers to a few threshold questions usually help our Clients make a decision. Assuming our discussion has revealed the existence of a cause of action that has factual support and legal merit, we also want to know:
- How large are the damages? Is the case significant enough to support the expense of prosecuting it? Litigation is expensive and is always a gamble. The issue or amount at stake must be important enough to make this worthwhile.
- What are the chances of obtaining an award of attorney fees if we win? By the end of a lawsuit the amount spent on attorney fees can be a significant percentage of the amount at stake. But attorney’s fees are recoverable in only certain types of cases and recovery is never certain.
- If we win, can we collect our judgment? This is one of the most important questions. We recommend hiring a good investigator to perform an asset search and background investigation where the answer to this question is not known. Investing sums of time, money and emotional capital in a lawsuit is not a good bargain unless there is a reasonable prospect of collection.
- Can the Client afford the cost of litigation?
- Is the Client able to deal with the stress of litigation?
- Are there issues or personalities present that might result in an appeal?
- Is a reasonable settlement likely?
- What alternate remedies are available?
These issues are best discussed before a decision is made. In the majority of cases we review, filing a civil lawsuit is not warranted. Instead, alternative remedies are more appropriate.
The lawyers at Platt and Westby, P.C. have been practicing in the area of civil litigation in the Phoenix, Arizona, area for over 40 years. Contact any of our Phoenix lawyers at 602-277-4441 or use the e-mail contact utility on our website at www.plattwestby.com to schedule a no-fee initial conference concerning any matter involving civil litigation. We will answer your questions and, where appropriate, suggest potential options.
Platt and Westby, P.C. has offices in Phoenix, Arrowhead, Avondale, Scottsdale and Gilbert, Arizona.