Before bringing a lawsuit to collect a debt—an expensive, time consuming, and aggravating process—unless we are close to a statute of limitations or need to file a prejudgment attachment or mechanics lien, our firm’s practice for nearly 30 years has been to first contact the debtor or his or her lawyer to arrange a meeting with them and our client to discuss the issues face to face. In approximately 60% of the cases in which this office has been involved we are able to reach a resolution at that meeting.
If that is unsuccessful, the next step is to draft a complaint and send it to the opposing party or their counsel with a strongly worded letter suggesting that if the matter is not settled or another meeting does not occur in the near future, we will file the complaint. In our firm’s experience, just writing a letter is usually futile. However, if the letter includes a ready to file complaint, the party and their attorney realize you are not bluffing and can immediately begin a lawsuit if no settlement is reached.
Assuming these two initial steps fail and you must file the lawsuit, the next consideration is whether to file for a prejudgment attachment, mechanic’s lien, or trustee process to seize bank accounts or other property. These tools are described in other parts of this website, but each helps you gain leverage by preventing the opposing party from transferring or spending assets that will be needed to satisfy a judgment.
After the lawsuit has been filed, the next step will be a process called “discovery.” The purpose of discovery is not to have “trial by ambush.” In discovery we seek all documents that are relevant to the case, ask written questions that must be answered under oath, and take depositions (recorded interviews under oath that can be used at trial if a witness changes testimony).
Courts now insist that the parties meet with a neutral person who acts as a mediator before trial. A mediator meets with both parties in one room to talk about the issues and to understand each party’s position, then separates the parties into different rooms. The mediator then goes back and forth between the rooms trying to get each side to either increase their offer or reduce their demand. Cases that are mediated usually have approximately a 70% chance of settling.
If these steps fail to resolve the lawsuit, the case must be tried. Our firm has tried many cases to conclusion, reviewing the material that has been developed in the course of the case, choosing and assembling the trial evidence, and preparing witnesses to testify. The key to winning cases is not luck; it is careful and methodical preparation.
This law office has been helping owners, contractors, and subcontractors through the litigation process and helping them win, or better yet avoid, lawsuits for nearly 30 years. If your company or you are in need of legal assistance because you are being sued or think you may need to bring a lawsuit, call our office at 800-909-LAWS (5297) or submit an online questionnaire. Because all cases are subject to statute of limitations or contract clauses that may limit the dates within which a lawsuit may be brought, call without delay to ensure you do not waive any of your rights.