It's a Business Decision...Not an Emotional Decision
With the primary exception of family law, the initiation of a lawsuit should not be prompted out of any emotional desire. For this reason, I practice many areas of law with the caveat that I will NOT accept a heated divorce or custody case, regardless of how much money the client may offer me. No offense to family practitioners, as they provide a vital and important, albeit emotionally demanding, service.
The initiation of a formal law suit is the beginning of a serious, expensive and lengthy process. As such, it should, usually, only be undertaken with the proper goals in mind and any feelings of anger, disgust, hatred, revenge, fairness, deception or even justification left at the door.
The decision to sue someone should boil down to what relief or remedy will suing this person or entity provide. In other words, what will you gain if you win this lawsuit. In law school, there are classes devoted to this important principal called "Remedies." In the practicing world of law, remedies are the reality and should be the driving force behind a healthy practice and adviser to clients.
Before a suit for money damages is filed, you need to look at to what monies are available to pay those damages. In a civil lawsuit, regardless of what terrible act the defendant has done to you, it really only matters what monies are available to remedy that harm. In other words, you can't squeeze blood from a turnip.
This means some research and investigation needs to be conducted before you yell out to the wrongdoer, "I'm gonna sue your pants off." In reality, he/she may not even own the pants they are wearing!
Look to all available assets and money sources of the proposed defendant, including:
- Insurance policies
- Bank accounts
- W-2 paying job
- Real Property
- Multiple vehicles
- Other tangible assets
If the wrongdoer has none of the above, he may likely be legally "judgment proof." Even if the defendant has some of the above, look to your states exemption statutes as many states limit what assets can be garnished to satisfy a judgment.
If the wrongdoer is judgment proof and it looks like he or she will always be judgment proof than a lawsuit may be an expensive and futile exercise. A judgment is only as valuable as it is collectible.
Of course, there are always exception to this rule and additional strategies are sometimes used when initiating a suit. However, it is critical to always take into account the wrongdoer's potential sources of money before hastily rushing to file suit.
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE INFORMATION DISSEMINATED ON THIS BLOG IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATION PURPOSES AND IS NOT INTENDED OR TO BE CONVEYED AS LEGAL ADVICE.