WHAT IF I’M SUED
Sometimes lawsuits come out of the blue. A process server comes to your door and delivers papers. If it is a large claims lawsuit, you have either 20 or 45 days (depending on the type of case) to formally respond.
If you are being sued, you will need to hire a lawyer on an hourly basis. Litigation attorneys typically charge between $175 and $300 per hour. The defense of a lawsuit can be costly. If the case goes to trial, and most trials last at least two to three days, your legal fees could be between $7,500 and $30,000, depending on how much time your lawyer spends preparing your case.
When you are sued, your goal should be to resolve the case as quickly as possible, for the least amount of money. The prudent decision may require you to pay the plaintiffs more money than you think they deserve, in order to avoid incurring substantial attorney’s fees. Your goal is to get out of the situation as inexpensively and as quickly as possible, regardless of whom you have to pay.
Your lawyer should attempt to get as much information as possible, in a limited amount of time. In order to properly defend you, your lawyer needs to know what evidence the other side has and what your potential risk is. Once he/she has done this, they can then give you advice regarding settlement.
Your lawyer should anticipate going to trial. This means locating witnesses, hiring experts, viewing the property that is the subject of the lawsuit, along with taking sufficient pictures.
Mediation is a good forum for resolving cases, as most cases can be settled. A good mediator can also give you an idea of what may happen if the case goes to trial. This allows you to assess your risk and make an informed business decision.