When a party walks into a case, the only thing on their mind is their side of the case. If people had a better understanding of the additional costs of the litigation, then they may be more willing to make a fair deal. In this post, I want to address, some, but definitely not all of the associated costs of litigation, both real and emotional.
When a party walks into a case, the only thing on their mind is their side of the case. They normally only see what it is they want and they feel justified in asking for everything they have been asking for since the case began. Most parties have a hard time putting themselves in the shoes of the Judge, let alone in the shoes of the other side. What they don't see are all the hidden costs to continuing the case. If people had a better understanding of the additional costs of the litigation, then they may be more willing to make a fair deal. In this post, I want to address, some, but definitely not all of the associated costs of litigation, both real and emotional.
1. Attorney's Fees: This may seem obvious, but attorneys are expensive company. In continuing a case, with a reasonable offer on the table, you incur more attorneys' fees. If you have the chance to get out of a case, with a reasonable offer, it is normally best to do so. It will cut down the costs of litigation and can save you considerable money in the long run.
2. Employment: Courts are normally only open during normal working hours. This means that every time most people have to go to court, they have to take time off from their jobs. This can mean a significant loss of wages and loss of future time off. Many employers also have a limited amount of time that an employee can take off in any given year. Burning your time off to visit the courthouse on a monthly basis can use up all your time off in a year. If there are still court dates in the future, you may face problems at work including termination.
3. Expert Witnesses: Expert Witness are also a cost which is incurred in many cases. These witnesses may be accountants, doctors, master technicians, etc.... These witnesses will charge a fee for the case that is being handled. That fee is normally significant. If the case continues to drag on, these witness fees will as well.
Emotional costs are as important as the monetary costs. The mental health of people in protracted litigation will suffer. Most of the emotional costs stem from the uncertainty of the litigation. The constant worry about the outcome of a case can be a Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the litigant. This worry bleeds over into the litigant's friendship, family, and work relationships. Many people get tired of hearing about that person's case and may avoid contact with them until that litigation is over. When that uncertainty turns to certainty, in the form of a judgement or agreed order, the litigant can start putting their lives back together.
All of this information is to help clients understand that when they come into a settlement conference or are reading through an agreed order that gives them some of what they want, but not everything, they need to take into account the additional costs that they will incur if they proceed. If a case that could cost you $10,000.00 ends up with a settlement offer of $5,000.00, you need to analyze whether it make sense, from a monetary and emotional standpoint, to proceed in the case to get the other $5,000.00. It may be that the attorneys' fees and work costs for a trial may exceed that $5,000.00 gain. In addition, the emotional toll of a trial is a lot.
When you are discussing settlement, please think of all of these issues as you make your determination of whether to accept a negotiated settlement or not. The attorneys at Barash & Everett, LLC are experienced in settlement negotiations and can assist you through the legal process. Please contact our firm for assistance.