The prospect of impending litigation can be a scary one for individuals and companies alike. Not only do they face the legal risk of the lawsuit itself, but the entire litigation process can be daunting. Nothing can take all the worry or risk out of litigation, but being prepared for the process can both make the process more efficient and increase your chances of success. Early case assessment is a must for almost any type of litigation. It is a worthwhile investment that can save you time and money.
Often, people and companies tend to have a sense that litigation is coming. Usually, there has been an incident that happened, or the prospective plaintiff has already shown their intention to sue. Lawsuits rarely come out of the blue. As a result, you or your business have the opportunity to do some legwork before the case is filed or immediately after, and before it is served.
Planning Is the Best Thing You Can Do in Litigation
While there are some things outside of your control during litigation, especially whether you are being sued, one of the best things you can do is have a plan for litigation if it happens. Once the court sets the schedule in the case, there will be tight deadlines for various stages of litigation and mistakes can be costly.
You need a strategy for dealing with all aspects of your case—and not just the legal arguments. Preferably, you should have this plan in place from the outset of the case so you can act and respond when necessary. Some of the decisions you make early in the case can set the tone going forward.
Perhaps the first thing you must know in every case are the relative risks of each course of action. If you have many cases coming in, you need to understand which ones may present potential problems. You should have an early read on the critical aspects of your case and its impact before you begin to drill down on individual legal or factual issues.
Get Yourself in a Stronger Position Early
An overwhelming majority of lawsuits will settle before they ever reach a judge or jury. But how you handle the early parts of a case could determine your bargaining position in settlement negotiations, and if the case does go to trial. If you have a strong read on your case early on, you may be in a better position to settle on more favorable terms, and prepare for the case going to trial. This includes being prepared for discovery and alternative dispute resolution.
Not only will there be legal arguments to analyze, but you must also be prepared to deal with all the documentation issues in a case. Both you and the other party may seek documents as part of discovery as the case progresses. For your part, you must be prepared to produce requested information within the timeline required by the court. Litigants typically begin to gather documents from document custodians in advance of discovery so they are organized and ready when they get the actual requests.
However, this process is not as simple as it sounds. First, you must speak with document custodians and information technology professionals to ascertain who has what documents and how they may be preserved. Second, you should know how you will search through custodians’ records to find the relevant data.
Preparing for Discovery Early
In addition, you should also understand the potential costs of a case. Litigation costs are a key aspect both plaintiffs and defendants consider in deciding how to move forward. Getting an early look at what discovery may entail will give you an idea of the cost structure of your litigation and the complexity of the case.
You may consider doing the following as part of early case assessment:
- Taking steps to preserve records and data, including through the use of a litigation hold (which is a written letter or email advising custodians of certain documents and electronically-stored information to preserve potentially relevant evidence in anticipation of future litigation)
- Gathering the records from the custodians
- Reviewing the documents to gauge what relevant documents you must produce, which may be protected from discovery, and thus need not be produced, and overall how the known information supports or detracts from various positions.
These are labor-intensive functions, and the time and costs can add up quickly. Moreover, they can distract you from running your business during the lawsuit. Hiring a professional to manage these matters early can help your case.
How Early Case Assessment Can Help
Some of the benefits of early case assessment include:
- Your company gets an early look at the strengths and weaknesses of its case
- You can focus your claims or defenses to reduce inefficiencies and costs
- You have a better idea early on as to whether settlement is beneficial or necessary
- You are better able to manage the case as it proceeds
- You know what you can handle in-house or what you will outsource
Preparing for litigation is time-consuming and very technical. There are big-picture issues to deal with like case strategy and minutiae too such as individual documents. All of these must be dealt with in a short timeframe. When you have numerous cases, there is only so much that your company can do to prepare early for each one. This is where our services can help you. Otherwise, you may find yourself drowning in data and records, distracting you from overseeing your defense and running your company.
Call Us for Legal Help with Early Case Assessment
The David Toy Law Firm provides early case assessment for individuals and companies that are facing litigation. We will help you get prepared before case deadlines and details sneak up on you. We free you up to use your resources where they work best. If you know that litigation is coming, or if your business has just been served with a lawsuit, call us today at (713) 322-7911 or contact us online. We can discuss your legal matter and outline what your needs may be.