There are several factors to consider when contemplating a potential lawsuit or settlement. As a person who is not trained in the law, it is important to seek counsel before making any decisions. Counsel can provide professional guidance in a field that a victim may be unfamiliar with. To attempt to navigate though the legal system without professional help would be confusing and frustrating. There are alternatives to litigation that some people may not be aware of. A professional in the law can give guidance and perspective as to which is the best route to take. One must consider the time involved in litigation. Cheeseman (2010) stated, “A trial can last less than one day to many months, depending on the type and complexity of the case” (p. 41).
Also, a consideration must be the costs involved. It can be extremely costly to obtain counsel, although it may be wise to invest in legal representation. Counsel will be able to provide you the statue of limitations so that you know how long you are eligible to seek damages. Additionally, counsel will provide you realistic picture of the benefits and/or risks of going to trial or settling. Counsel would be able to explain the intricacies regarding a trial and provide a relative timeframe. Most people are unaware of the details and involvement of going to trial. In many cases it is in the best interest of both the injured party and the accused to seek a resolution outside of court. According to Cheeseman (2010), “More than 95 percent of all cases are settled before they go to trial” (p. 40). A victim may feel compelled to go to court, when counsel may know that a trial may not provide a favorable outcome.
Counsel would need to be available as already discussed to decide whether litigation is the way to go. Once the decision had been made to pursue the issue legally, the appropriate legal representation would have to be found. The type of counsel would depend on the type of case. There are several specialties in law and finding the best person to represent you is crucial. You would not ask a lawyer that specializes in real estate to represent you in a wrongful death suit. If possible, legal representation should be made available before the decision to seek legal action is decided on. A lawyer is there to provide professional advice, but they cannot force you to make a decision one way or the other. Two main intentional torts that should seek council especially if there were bodily injury to the person or persons are assault and battery. Cheeseman (2010) stated, “Assault is (1) the threat of immediate harm or offensive contact or (2) any action that arouses reasonable apprehension of imminent harm” (p. 75).
The threat to the life of an individual or offensive contact are two very good reasons to seek counsel for either monetary charges such as paying medical bills from the harmful contact or seeking restraining orders to prevent such contact form occurring. Cheeseman (2010) stated, “Battery is unauthorized and harmful or offensive physical contact with another person that causes injury. Basically, the interest protected here is each person’s reasonable sense of dignity and safety” (p 75). The other tort situation that should seek legal counsel are strict or product liability cases. Cheeseman (2010) stated, “That is, a participant in a covered activity will be held liable for any injuries caused by the activity, even if he or she was not negligent” (p. 89).
To clarify further Cheeseman (2010) stated, “This doctrine holds that (1) there are certain activities that can place the public at risk of injury even if reasonable care is taken and (2) the public should have some means of compensation if such injury occurs” (p. 89). These cases either involve wrongdoing to the individual that usually ends in harm or death. If a product malfunctions which hurts the consumer or shorts out and the consumer dies are both reasons legal counsel should be involved.
Again, legal counsel should specialize in the area that you need representing and the monetary costs of acquiring counsel should be researched before hiring them to represent your case. Seeking legal council is prudent in helping a victim understand their choices. There are situations when there is not enough evidence or legal grounds for any form of legal action, and legal council can provide that information. The proper and professional legal guidance can help a victim recover losses and damages.
Cheeseman, H. R. (2010). Business law: Legal environment, online commerce, business ethics, and international issues (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.