Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries, although often varying greatly in type and cause, all require extensive medical treatment. An illness or physical injury may be regarded as catastrophic when it is deemed severe and critical. This does not mean that the injury or illness is permanent (although it may be), but that it may take months or even years to mend or restore the injured person to health. Often in cases of catastrophic injuries, the degree of injury may not be realized right away — the consequences stemming from the injury may be long-term, often with lifelong effects.

Catastrophic injuries may be the result of many different causes; there exists no list of certain events or accidents that can cause catastrophic injuries. Causes of injury may range from automobile accidents and medical injuries to sports-related accidents, work-related accidents, defective products or exposure to toxic substances. It is the severity of the injury that classifies it as catastrophic.

As the causes of severe injuries may vary greatly, so do the types of catastrophic injuries sustained. Catastrophic injuries may include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and severe burns; these injuries may affect the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, the respiratory system, the immune system, the muscular system, the skeletal system or the reproductive system.

Personal Injury Litigation

If you, or a loved one, have suffered a catastrophic injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The court may award monetary compensation for the losses you have experienced. In order for the court to award compensation, you must have a personal injury claim against the responsible party. The responsible party may be an individual, a group of individuals or even a corporation. When determining who is responsible for your injuries, you must consider the facts of your case. If you were injured in a car accident, due to medical negligence or from using a defective product, the responsible party may be the owner of the automobile, your doctor or the manufacturer of the defective product. A combination of persons may also be responsible for your injuries in a catastrophic injury case. For this reason, it is important to seek an attorney knowledgeable in personal injury litigation to discuss the facts of your case and help you determine the appropriate parties that may be legally responsible for your injuries.

After you have determined the responsible parties and entered litigation, you must prove your case to the court. The court may then award compensation for the damages you have suffered. The amount and type of damages may depend on the severity of your injury, the facts of your case and the jurisdiction in which the case takes place. Generally, you may be able to recover for lost wages, loss of future income, pain and suffering, medical costs incurred (for immediate treatment and any future treatment), loss of consortium and loss of quality of life.

Additionally, courts in some jurisdictions may award punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded by the judge or jury in addition to compensatory damages and are intended to punish the responsible parties for their actions. Punitive damages are not available in all jurisdictions and are awarded based on the circumstances surrounding the victim’s catastrophic injury.

If you have any questions regarding a personal injury claim for damages due to a catastrophic injury, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable attorney in your area. A personal injury lawyer may answer your questions, explain your legal options and help you determine the appropriate actions for you, based on your specific factual situation.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

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Assault and Battery

Two common types of personal injury torts are assault and battery. Battery is often confused with assault, and the two terms are often perceived as one claim. In actuality, they are two separate legal claims. An assault is an act that creates a reasonable apprehension of an imminent battery, while a battery is the intentional and unpermitted physical contact with another. Often, claims for both assault and battery are filed that stem from the same incident. However, even though the torts often occur together, it is important to understand that they are separate and distinct legal claims.

Assault

In an assault claim, the plaintiff must perceive a threat that is regarded as imminent. It is not necessary that the plaintiff actually be frightened or intimidated. The focus of the court is whether the plaintiff’s apprehension was reasonable under the circumstances. In many cases it is held that mere words are not enough to constitute an assault — there must be an accompanying overt act. Likewise, in order to recover on an assault claim, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant was capable, at the time the threat was made, of carrying it out. Therefore, in order to prove a case for assault, the plaintiff must establish that the threat of harm was imminent, that the defendant was actually capable of carrying out the threat (or the plaintiff reasonably believed he or she was actually capable) and that a reasonable person, in the plaintiff’s circumstances, would have been apprehensive.

Battery

Battery can occur where an individual — or an item in contact with that individual — is touched in an offensive manner. As opposed to assault, the plaintiff need not have been aware of the contact at the time it actually occurred. In general, two different types of contact may constitute a battery: contact that caused physical harm (for example a cut, scrape, bruise, burn, fracture or physical pain) or nonconsensual contact that did not cause physical harm. Since battery is an intentional tort, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant intended his or her conduct. The plaintiff need not prove that the defendant intended to harm the plaintiff, but only that the conduct itself was intentional and not an accident. An exception to this rule is that even in situations where consent was obtained, if the actions of the defendant move beyond the boundaries of the consent given, a battery may occur.

The discussion above deals with civil tort actions for monetary damages. Assault and battery can be the basis of criminal prosecution at a state level as well. While many aspects of criminal law focus on the rights of the criminal, recent attention has been focused on the rights of the victims of crimes, who often suffer great emotional, if not physical, injuries at the hands of the criminal. All fifty states and the federal government now have laws that protect victims. In many states, a victim is considered the person who has directly suffered the effects of the crimes committed against him or her and the victim’s immediate family members who have suffered secondary effects of the crime (such as loss of a loved one). If you, or a family member, have been a victim of a crime, you should speak with a criminal law attorney in your jurisdiction to answer your questions and help you determine the best course of legal action in your situation.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

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Wrongful Death Actions

Wrongful death claims are actions for damages stemming from a decedent’s death due to the negligent action or omission of another. The deceased person’s surviving relatives may bring a wrongful death suit seeking monetary damages to compensate for the loss of their loved one. Family members may also bring additional claims, depending on the circumstances, for elements such as loss of companionship. Each jurisdiction has its own statute regarding wrongful death claims, and those rules may differ from state to state. For this reason, it is important to speak to an attorney in your jurisdiction who is knowledgeable in wrongful death actions to learn about the laws in your state.

Who Can be the Plaintiff in a Wrongful Death Action?

In some states, wrongful death statutes entitle the decedent’s next of kin to bring a cause of action on their own behalf as a result of damages sustained following the decedent’s death. Other state laws allow family members to bring a wrongful death claim on the decedent’s behalf. These statutes, called survival acts, preserve the rights of the decedent at the moment of his or her death and allow survivors to bring a claim based upon the decedent’s rights, including damages resulting from the actual death itself. Finally, some states recognize both types of lawsuits, but generally have a provision that limits the right of the survivors in order to prevent a double recovery under the two different theories for the same injury.

Different jurisdictions also vary in who may be a plaintiff in wrongful death or survivor actions. Generally, the primary beneficiaries of the deceased individual (spouse and children) are able to bring a claim. However, in some states, parents of the deceased who are designated as beneficiaries can be plaintiffs in the suit. In most states, if the deceased did not leave any heirs (spouse, children or parents), there is no one who could be a plaintiff in a wrongful death claim. In a few states, however, distant relatives can become plaintiffs if they were dependent upon the deceased for economic support. Some jurisdictions even allow an executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the estate. Lastly, in a minority of jurisdictions, the decedent’s domestic partner may be the plaintiff, if the state recognizes common-law marriage or same-sex marriage.

Wrongful Death Litigation

Most wrongful death actions are based on tort theory. Often, it is not necessary that the defendant’s conduct be the sole cause of the death. Even where the defendant’s negligence contributes, with other circumstances, to the decedent’s death, the defendant may be held legally liable and responsible for damages.

After the plaintiff has proven the defendant’s legal liability, he or she must establish the type and amount of damages. In some jurisdictions, the plaintiffs may be able to recover the costs of the deceased’s medical care, funeral expenses, loss of future earnings, the value of the loss of the deceased’s benefits (such as pension benefits or medical and health insurance coverage), loss of consortium and general damages. Additionally, the plaintiffs may be able to recover damages for their own pain and suffering or mental anguish, and may also be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are not available in all jurisdictions and availability is determined by the fact finder (judge or jury) based on the facts of the case.

The method and manner of calculating damages in a wrongful death action can be complex. Pecuniary loss must be calculated, which may be computed according to the decedent’s life expectancy and work life expectancy. The life expectancy of the beneficiaries and, where necessary, the remaining period of minority of any beneficiaries must also be considered. In calculating the value of the plaintiff’s future loss, not only may the wages of the decedent be considered but the court may also consider the value of past contributions made by the decedent, the decedent’s familial concern, his personal habits and his spending behavior. Due to these complexities, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable in wrongful death claims to answer any questions you may have and help you pursue the best legal options based on the facts of your case.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

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Liability in Child Birth Cases

During childbirth, injuries may occur. Often the injuries are unavoidable, but sometimes they may have been preventable with timely action and the appropriate medical treatment. When preventable injuries are the result of medical negligence, the responsible party or parties may be held legally accountable for the injuries sustained. This may include the doctor who delivered your child, hospital staff members or the hospital itself.

Often, the doctor who was in control of the delivery will be held accountable for his or her actions and the actions of subordinates, such as nurses, residents, other doctors or other hospital staff members. Doctors are held to a professional standard of care. This means that physicians must provide the same level of care as other physicians would in the same or similar circumstances. Therefore, in a medical negligence claim against a doctor, the plaintiff — such as the parents of an injured infant — must provide the court with evidence that establishes that the doctor or other medical personnel failed to meet the medical industry’s standard of care during childbirth. Examples of failure to meet the industry standard may found in a doctor’s action or inaction, including choice of treatment, method of administering treatment, or failure to notice symptoms or warning signs. If a doctor’s medical negligence can be established to the court, the physician may be held liable for the injuries of the mother or child.

Much like physicians, hospitals may also be held accountable for failing to meet an industry standard of care. Hospitals owe patients a duty of care to provide medical treatment. If it can be shown that the hospital breached its duty of care to a patient or failed to meet an industry standard of care for such a facility, the hospital may be held liable for injuries suffered.

The hospital may also be held liable for the negligent actions of hospital employees. If it is discovered that hospital staff members are under qualified, should not have been hired due to information provided by a background check or have been inadequately supervised, the medical facility may have been negligent in their hiring practices. If this is the case, the hospital may be held liable for corporate negligence and responsible for any actions of their negligently hired employees.

If the hospital or hospital employees are found to be medically negligent and liable for the patients injuries, the court may award the plaintiff damages. Generally, the parents are awarded damages for their child’s injuries and that monetary compensation will be placed in a trust to benefit the child. Damages may be received for pain and suffering, future costs of medical treatment, mental or physical disability, loss of future income, loss of quality of life or other losses depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury. The amount of damages will also depend on the circumstances, the extent of the injuries suffered and the laws in your jurisdiction.

The parents of an injured child may be awarded damages for their own losses, such as negligent infliction of emotional distress, loss of companionship, medical costs incurred and/or wrongful death of their child. If you believe your child has suffered birth injuries due to negligence care, if is important to speak to an attorney to discuss your circumstances and help you determine what legal options may be the most appropriate for you and your child.

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Class Action Lawsuits

Class action lawsuits are composed of groups of people with the same or similar injuries and/or damages, stemming from the same source. The cause of the injury may be a specific event or incident: contamination from a toxic substance, material or structure; faulty medical treatment or use of the same defective product, drug or device. Usually, the injured parties have sustained fairly minor injuries. Therefore, by combining the individual claims into one action, the claim becomes more practical for the plaintiffs and for the court system. It is more cost effective to litigate all the claims at one time, since the costs of litigation will be paid by the group, not by an individual plaintiff. Additionally, by combining the smaller claims together, they add up and may gain strength in proving the plaintiff’s case to the court.

In order for the court to recognize a class action lawsuit, the action must meet certain prerequisites. First, it must be practical to have a group action rather than individual claims (the group must be large), the class members must have similar factual scenarios, a representative member must file claims that would be predictable/standard for the other class members and the named plaintiff (class representative) must protect the interests of the class sufficiently.

If a group meets the court’s required factors, they may file an action as class members. When a class action lawsuit is initiated, a group of injured parties (the plaintiffs) file one action with the court and each plaintiff is considered a class member of the lawsuit. Generally, one class member will be chosen as the representative member — or named plaintiff — for the entire class. This person (or persons) will sue the defendant on behalf of the other class members and represent the group’s interests to the court. The individual or small group chosen as the representative member(s) must also meet certain statutory requirements (criteria for a named plaintiff) and will be chosen or approved by the court.

Once the court has approved class action status and appointed the class representative, other persons affected by the litigation should be notified. Generally, the named plaintiff will be ordered to notify any persons who may be affected or who would qualify as class members. If the class if very large, individual notification may be impossible. In such a case, the notification must be reasonable. Notification by letter, flyer, magazine, newspaper, television or the radio may be sufficient, depending on the circumstances. Not every single person must be notified, but if the notification process was approved as reasonable and appropriate by the court, it will suffice. If a person is notified of a class action lawsuit, he or she may choose to opt in or opt out of the lawsuit. If the class action litigation is already in process, potential members may no longer be able to opt out of the lawsuit and will be legally bound by the case’s result.

Conversely, it is important to note that if an injured party has sustained serious or severe injuries and is able to file an individual claim — as opposed to joining a class action lawsuit — doing so may be in that individual’s best interests. It depends on the extent of the damages and the circumstances involved. For this reason, if you or your loved one has been seriously injured, it is important to speak to an attorney knowledgeable in personal injury law to determine whether a class action lawsuit is the best option for your situation.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

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Toxic Torts

The area of toxic tort law has been developing in recent years. This area of law covers many types of injuries, such as injuries due to tobacco use, lead poisoning, polluted water, contaminated structures or building materials, radiation poisoning, pesticides, injury due to defective drugs or injuries from medical devices, to name a few. These injuries are caused by various sources, from defective medications to contamination or pollution. Although the circumstances surrounding each toxic tort case may be vastly different, the legal aspects of toxic tort claims are similar: The injury must have been caused by hazardous substance and the individual or individuals who were injured must have made contact with that substance.

There a number of common legal elements that the person bringing a toxic tort claim must prove to the court litigation. First, the plaintiff must show exposure to a toxic substance. The plaintiff may be the individual who suffered the injury or a third party (such as a family member or loved one of the victim) making the claim on behalf of the injured party. Next, the plaintiff must show that the defendant is responsible for the injuries suffered by the victim and that the victim did, in fact, suffer injury or harm. The defendant’s responsibility (legal liability) for the injury does not have to be from a direct action — often, it is the inaction or failure to act that caused the plaintiff’s injury.

Establishing the Defendant

Determining the defendant in a toxic tort claim may be difficult. There may be more than one individual and/or company responsible for an injury. In addition, sometimes the full extent of the victim’s injuries may not be fully realized until years after the original injury took place. Therefore, the legally liable party may vary depending on the type of toxic substance involved, the injury sustained and when the injury occurred. Some examples of potentially liable parties are as follows:

  • The manufacturer, designer, retailer, distributor or transporter of a dangerous product
  • A business or company that did not dispose of toxic waste properly, or land owners who allowed toxic waste to remain on their property
  • The supplier of contaminated building materials or contractor who constructed the contaminated structure
  • An employer whose employees were exposed to dangerous levels of toxic substances

If the defendant is an employer, you should be aware that there are laws excluding employers from being held liable for employee’s injuries due to toxic exposure. A toxic tort claim against an employer may be possible depending on the facts of your situation and the laws in your jurisdiction. It is important to speak to a toxic torts attorney to help you determine if you have a claim against your employer.

If you think may have a toxic tort claim for injuries caused by exposure to a toxic substance, it is important to speak with an attorney knowledgeable in toxic tort litigation to discuss the facts of your case. A lawyer in your jurisdiction may answer your questions regarding toxic tort litigation and help you determine the proper claims for your specific situation.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

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Third Party Responsibility in Drunk Driving Accidents

Most often, the responsible party in a drunk driving accident is the intoxicated person who was driving the car that caused the accident. However, in some situations, a third party may be deemed liable for an accident caused by a drunk driver. Third party liability depends on the facts of the case, the laws in the state where the accident took place and the jurisdiction of the court in which the case is being tried. A third party may be an individual — such as an employer, passenger, party host or law enforcement officer — or a business that provided alcohol, such as a bar or eating establishment. The specific situations may vary, but generally involve the third party having knowledge of the driver’s intoxicated state and either failing to stop him or her from driving or providing him or her with more alcohol prior to driving. For instance, if a police officer stops a car, sees that the driver is visibly intoxicated and allows him or her to continue driving the vehicle, or if a bartender continues to serve a visibly intoxicated individual with the knowledge that the individual will be driving (or fails to prevent the individual from driving).

State laws may play a large part in whether a third party may be held liable for injuries sustained in a drunk driving accident. Statutes that may hold a social host or business liable are the Dram Shop Act and Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) laws. ABC statutes may hold a host (party or social gathering) responsible for the actions of his or her guests. The host may be an individual or a business that provides alcohol to persons (guests or employees) at a party, function or event, but which does not have a license to sell alcohol to those persons. Most states that have ABC laws hold a host responsible for the actions of guests if the host knew or should have known that the guest was dangerous to others. Alternatively, other states will not hold a host legally responsible for any actions of intoxicated guests after they have left the party, gathering or event. A few states with ABC laws hold social hosts to a higher standard and will extend the law to find a host liable for any actions of intoxicated guests.

Much like ABC laws, states with a Dram Shop Act may hold businesses liable for the actions of intoxicated customers once he or she has left the premises. Unlike ABC laws, however, Dram Shop Acts apply to persons or businesses licensed to sell alcohol in their establishments. In order for a third party to be found liable under Dram Shop laws, he or she must have had knowledge of a customer’s intoxicated state and then continued to sell that individual alcohol. Generally, in order to show the third party had knowledge of a patron’s drunkenness, the individual must be visibly drunk. Evidence of this may include slurred speech, difficulty walking, a strong smell of alcohol or other behaviors that make the customer’s intoxication obvious to others. Additionally, the seller must have known that the intoxicated customer was going to drive a vehicle. State laws on third party responsibility may vary. It is important to speak to an attorney in your jurisdiction about any applicable laws in your area and how they may apply to your situation.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

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What is a Catastrophic Injury?

A catastrophic injury is a physical injury or illness that is regarded as extreme or particularly serious, has a considerable impact on the victim of the injury or illness and needs a considerable amount of medical treatment. Catastrophic injuries may not always be permanent, but take months or years to heal. In some cases, the full extent of the injuries may not be known for a long amount of time. The effects of such injuries may be long lasting, both physically and emotionally. The types of catastrophic injuries are wide ranging. Some examples of such injuries are extensive burns, loss of a limb, severe brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or injuries causing paralysis. These injuries may affect many body systems, such as the central nervous system, gastrointestinal, urinary, respiratory, circulatory, excretory, reproductive and others.

Many wide varieties of events may cause a catastrophic injury. There are not certain types of accidents that determine if an injury may be classified as catastrophic. The severity of the injury itself makes that determination. Some examples of accidents may be automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, accidents in the workplace, defective products, toxic substances, birth injuries and injuries due to fire or other disasters.

What Type of Damages Can I Receive for Catastrophic Injuries?

A person who has suffered a catastrophic injury may be awarded damages for the losses incurred. The amount and type of loss depends on the injury and the situation that caused the injury. However, many damages for catastrophic injuries include medical costs (at the time of injury and future medical treatment), lost wages, loss of future income (if the injured party will not be able to work for a period of time, even permanently), loss of household services, costs of additional care, loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, shortened life span and others. In addition to these types of damages, courts in some jurisdictions will also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded by the fact finder (judge or jury) in addition to compensatory damages. The goal of punitive damages is to punish the responsible party for the injuries the victim has suffered. Not all jurisdictions will award punitive damages and not all cases will warrant such an award, it depends on the jurisdiction and the facts of your case.

Who is Responsible for a Catastrophic Injury?

If the injury suffered by the victim was caused by an intentional act, negligence or a defective product there may be a cause of action for personal injury. When determining who is responsible for your catastrophic injury, it is important to look at the specific facts of your case. There may be more than one person who played a role in the sustained injuries. Depending on your case, the responsible party may be your doctor, nurse, hospital or other medical personnel, the owner of the motor vehicle that caused your accident, your employer or the manufacturer of a defective drug or product. It is important to seek an attorney, in your area, experienced in catastrophic injury cases to help investigate your case and determine the appropriate parties who may be responsible for your injuries.

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Can I Have a Civil Claim for Suffering Injury Due To Assault and Battery?

If you have been injured due to an assault and battery, there may be two different types of claims against the person who injured you, criminal and civil. In a criminal case, the assailant may be prosecuted by the government. If the party is found guilty of assault and battery, he or she may be punished. Punishment may be imprisonment, probation, restitution or other types of punishment as determined by the court. Alternatively, in a civil claim for assault and battery, compensation for the victim’s injuries is the goal of the case, not punishment. As a victim, you may have a civil claim against the person who harmed you for damages sustained due to your injuries. If you succeed in your civil case, you may be awarded compensatory damages from the defendant.

Compensatory damages are intended to reimburse the plaintiff for wrongs done to him or her by the defendant. The court will consider the amount of medical costs, treatments costs, lost wages, loss of household services, the severity of the injury, pain and sufferings and other factors, when determining the amount of compensation due to the victim. Additionally, in some jurisdictions, punitive damages may also be awarded by the judge or jury. The intent of punitive damages is to punish the defendant (financially) for wrongs perpetrated on the plaintiff, in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are not available in all jurisdictions and are awarded by fact finders (judge or jury) at their discretion, based on the facts of the case. It is important to speak to an attorney about pursuing a civil case for assault and/or battery and the types of damages that may be available in your jurisdiction.

What is Assault and Battery?

Assault and battery are actually two separate legal claims. Most commonly, they go together, but they do not have to. It depends on the circumstances of your injuries; you may have a claim for assault, a claim for battery or both. Both claims require that the assailant intended to harm the victim. The harm may be to induce fear in the victim, or actual physical injury. Assault occurs when a victim is threatened with physical injury/violence. The victim must actually fear that physical harm to them will take place. A verbal threat may not be enough to show assault. Additionally, the fear of immediate harm, that the victim felt, must be reasonable for the situation. The court may determine what was reasonable in the situation based on the facts of the case presented to the court.

Likewise, battery is when the injury, in fact, takes place. Battery is most often the result of an assault. When a battery takes place, the assailant does not have to be the person who came in direct contact with the victim. However, the physical injuries sustained must have been caused by the defendant’s actions. It is enough that the defendant’s actions created a situation that caused the victim’s injuries. An example may be if the defendant was playing a practical joke on the plaintiff and as a result of the joke, the plaintiff was physically injured. The defendant did not intend for the plaintiff to be hurt, but did intend the joke, which resulted in circumstances that caused injury to the victim.

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What is Commercial Litigation?

Commercial litigation is a broad term used to describe any disputes that arise in a business setting. If the parties cannot settle their dispute on their own, they may turn to litigation to solve their business controversy. The injury suffered may be anything from a business relationship that is beyond repair, to a disagreement during a business transaction that cannot be resolved. Some other examples of types of commercial litigation include disputes over employment issues, business dissolutions, antitrust and antitrade proceedings, corporate fraud claims, breach of contract actions and debt collection issues. This is a sampling of types of claims, the scope of commercial litigation is very broad and can encompass both simple business related disputes and complex transactional matters (and everything in between).

If you have a business dispute and are thinking about litigation, there are factors you should consider before filing a claim with the court. It is important to speak to an attorney to discuss your possible claim and weigh your options prior to seeking litigation as well. Some factors to consider are the parties implicated in your business dispute and the sum of money at issue in the dispute. Accordingly, if the other party involved in the dispute is someone you would like to have a future business relationship with, litigation may not be the most appropriate choice. Prior to entering a lawsuit, you may want to try to resolve your issues amicably. You may even consider mediation or arbitration as possible solution to save your business relationship (if that is a concern). You will also want to consider if the other party has means to compensate you if you do go to litigation and succeed in your claim.

Correspondingly, it is important to consider the amount of money involved in the dispute. In a commercial litigation lawsuit, each party will usually have to pay their own legal fees and costs, this includes attorney’s fees and these fees can add up during the resolution of your case. Litigation is often time consuming and costly, so make sure that the end-result is worth the expense. Alternatively, you may have other (non-monetary) reasons for pursuing a commercial litigation claim. Perhaps your dispute involves an important legal issue that must be resolved for the benefit of continuing your business, or your business’s reputation is at stake. These types of factors may outweigh the legal costs you may face and are important to consider when deciding if litigation is the best option for you and your business.

If I Have a Business Dispute, Is Litigation the Only Option?

If you have a business dispute, you may weigh the pros and cons and conclude that litigation may not be the most beneficial choice for you. Other options may be less time consuming and less costly. The most commonly used alternative to litigation is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), many courts are even starting to require parties to go through ADR before pursuing litigation for their business issues. There are two ADR processes, mediation or arbitration. Mediation is a process where the parties meet with a trained neutral third party (licensed mediator) to resolve their issues and reach a settlement agreement. This process is nonbinding on the parties and the agreement is reached solely by the parties, not decided on by the mediator. If an agreement cannot be reached, the mediation concludes.

Similarly, arbitration involves a meeting between the parties and a neutral third party (arbitrator). However, in arbitration, both parties present their sides to the arbitrator and he or she makes a decision based on the evidence the parties have presented. The arbitrator’s decision is binding on both parties and may be enforced by the court. This process is similar to litigation; however, it is more information, less costly and less time consuming. If you have an ADR clause in your business contract or are considering options alternative to litigation, speak to an attorney to answer your questions and help you determine your best option.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.