By Attorney Sarah Albert
Our firm consults with many clients who may have a viable cause of action in a civil suit but who are unsure if litigation is possible or appropriate in their situation. If you suspect you might have a claim for a civil lawsuit:
- Take documentary evidence. If you are experiencing a problem in your home or apartment, or perhaps with a vehicle or new appliance, try to take photos or videos of the problem. Try to keep current with those photos or videos to assess how the problem – maybe a leaking roof, a paving issue, or a car malfunctioning – is progressing, or perhaps self-correcting, which is the ideal outcome. This documentary evidence will come into play later on, if the problem persists.
- Get things in writing. If you make phone calls to a potentially adverse party, do not record those calls themselves. But you can document when you called whom, and what was discussed, and the outcome of that conversation. If you want to memorialize a conversation, follow up by sending an email to the potentially adverse party explaining what was discussed and what you took away from the conversation. In these messages, it's important to state facts and details as you remember them. This will help your lawyer create a timeline of events later on, if the problem persists.
- Try to work amicably towards a resolution. The ideal outcome with a tenant, landlord, mechanic, or any potentially adverse party is to be respectful towards each other and reach a solution. But importantly, if you suspect your rights are being violated, you do not have to wait for the situation to escalate or become adverse before contacting a lawyer.
- Call your lawyer. If you suspect your rights are being violated, if things escalate, or if the adverse party becomes unresponsive, call legal representation. You can use your documentary evidence and timelines to determine with your lawyer whether you have a viable claim, and whether the time, money, and effort you put into this claim will be worth the potential outcome. It's important to discuss the out of pocket costs of legal representation, the chances of recovery, and the risks involved before making any decisions. Lawyers at CTM Legal Group will make sure you are informed of these details before moving forward.
- Let your lawyer talk to the adverse party on your behalf. Once a lawyer is involved, let him or her talk to the adverse party. Trust your legal representative to speak with any adverse party in a reasonable, responsible, and ethical manner. Trust him or her to negotiate on your behalf, knowing that you, as the client, have the final say in what gets decided.
- Call your lawyer back. There are important discovery deadlines in almost every case. There are important statutes of limitation in every case. If your lawyer asks you for additional information or to produce certain documents, try to respond as quickly as possible, either on the phone or in email. If your lawyer tells you about an important deadline, adhering to it is for your benefit. It is in your best interest to take these deadlines seriously so that your lawyer can maximize options and the potential outcome of negotiations, settlement, or trial.
This is not an exhaustive checklist, but it hopefully gives you a place to start when tackling potential issues that arise in the new year. You don't have to do anything alone. At CTM Legal Group, we know that assessing your legal rights can be difficult, and working with adverse parties can be even trickier. If you want to discuss your options with civil issues like home repair, unemployment benefits, rental agreements, or the like, do not hesitate to contact us – the sooner the better.