Forest through the trees – we just read a case where an insurance company spent $114,268.01 fighting a $450 claim (Nationwide v. Advanced Cooling). This case is not an isolated incident. Without good strategy any case can spiral out of control.
Here are ten tips to avoid situations like the above:
1. Drop your emotions. “I want them to pay!” “They did me wrong!” “I will fight till the end.” “It’s just not right.” Those thoughts are expensive. Emotion clouds vision and stifles logic. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Luke 6:29
2. Have a plan. How is the case going to end? What are the techniques your lawyer will use to get the case settled? What will be presented at trial if you cannot settle? Who should be deposed, what evidence do you need? Litigating a case without a case plan is like building without a set of plans. Sit down with your attorney and make sure you understand the path from beginning to end, with all its twists, bends and options. As you learn more, adjust the plan.
3. Ask your attorney to clear major expenses with you, before incurring them. No one likes surprises.
4. Set a budget, revisit often. It is difficult to predict litigation costs. However, most attorneys can give you a range. As the case progresses, the budget can be dialed in. Get on the same page with your lawyer, no one likes surprises.
5. Ask your attorney for a flat fee quote or a contingency fee quote. Not all matters are appropriate for flat fee / contingency fee arrangements, but it costs nothing for you to ask.
6. Know your best case / worst case scenario. If you lose, what is protected, what is not. What will they get? What are the damages? If you win, what will you gain? People often spend thousands obtaining a judgment, only to find out their adversary is not collectable.
7. Solve your opponent’s problem. Find out what they want. Find out how you can give it to them while at the same time protecting your interests. A short sale is a perfect example of this concept. Working with the other party to maximize the outcome for all parties is the best way to solve a dispute.
8. Hire a good lawyer. Make sure your lawyer knows what he or she is doing. A lawyer with training and experience in an area can almost always handle a matter better and less expensively than other lawyers. This seems like an obvious point, but you would be surprised how few people ask the right questions when interviewing lawyers.
9. Voice your frustrations. If your bill is not what you expected it to be, talk to your attorney. Some of our clients want us to do the absolute minimum necessary to keep costs down. Other clients want us to leave no stone unturned, to spare no expense and increase their odds of success. If your lawyer goes down the wrong path, tell him so he can adjust and correct.
10. Drop your emotions. Did we already mention this one? Its important enough to state twice.
If you are facing litigation, call us. We can help you find the best way to achieve your objectives.