IS MY LAWYER TRUSTWORTHY?
Let’s say there is a dispute over money and it has been a while since it started. Now, you are thinking about a lawsuit. Then, you would want to get some advice from lawyers, and the advice is from their perspective. If you had never experienced a lawsuit before, it is nearly impossible to estimate the total cost and time as well as psychological suffering that you might have to go through. Furthermore, the lawyers cannot guarantee how much time and money would be needed for the lawsuit nor could they predict the outcome of the lawsuit. There are so many factors affecting the outcome such as the judge, jury, and etc. However, your lawyer is not responsible for the outcome of the lawsuit. It is the client who has to pay the attorney fees, regardless of the outcome. It is hard to dispute the amount of the attorney fees later on.
DOES THE DEFENDANT HAVE ANY ASSETS?
After the complaint is served to the defendant, his or her assets and properties will be identified through interrogation and deposition. It takes about 1 to 2 years to reach this point. However, the defendant is not very honest about revealing his or her assets when the monetary compensation is requested. As soon as the defendants find out there is a complaint against them, they will move the assets from the bank to other places and sell their real estate properties. If this is the case, the plaintiff might not be able to get any monetary compensation because there are no assets under the defendant’s name. Even if you win and receive a favorable judgment, you will not get any compensation if the defendant files for bankruptcy. Except for a few cases in which the main purpose of the lawsuit is related to social justice or belief, there is no point in going through a lawsuit if there is no monetary compensation at the end.
YOU CAN SAVE TIME AND MONEY IF YOU CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
1. Verify the legal name as well as the current address of the other party. Make sure to get the address of the place where the other party is currently living. Also, find out his or her legal name as it is printed in government-issued documents. Some people use aliases or nicknames, so the name you know might not be the legal name of that person. Also, keep in mind that the other party could just disappear or move to another place before the complaint is served.
2. Verify what kinds of assets are under the other party. Once you find out the legal name, do a search on the assets such as how much cash is in the bank accounts or if there are any real properties under that name. You have to calculate the real value of the real estate property considering the current market value as well as the mortgage amounts. Once again, if there are no assets under the name of the defendant, you will not get compensated even if you win the case.
3. Let’s say the other party owns some cash or real estate properties. Then, you should find out if you could get the “Temporary Restraining Order” (TRO) from a judge. TRP is similar to the provisional injunction. You could apply for it before serving the complaint by explaining the situation to the judge. If you get the TRP before serving the complaint, then you have a better chance of securing the assets. If there is no TRP, the defendant has some time to do something with his or her assets so that they can’t be taken away. TRO is very important in the lawsuit. If you successfully get TRP, you will be in a better position to deal with the defendant. You might be able to settle before the trial.
4. Check if the person has filed for bankruptcy or not. If there is no record of bankruptcy or it has been more than 10 years since the last bankruptcy, the person can file bankruptcy at any time. If the other party goes bankrupt, he or she does not have any obligation to pay for the damages.
5. If the other party does not have assets, it is better to get settled. In order to settle, it is better to deal with someone who is close to the defendant. It is considered successful if you get 50% of the requested compensation through a settlement. In case the party is not capable of paying as ordered, the judgment buyers will take the case but only pay 1% of the amount. If you toss the case to the collection agency, you have to share 50% of what you actually get. Therefore, you won’t even get 50% of the actual compensation. Most collection agencies do not take over the cases of the defendant without any assets. The agencies do their own research on this beforehand.
EXPECT THE WORST
You could start a lawsuit with a few thousand dollars in your hands, but the amount grows exponentially if you continue until you get the final judgment. In the beginning, you might think it will be a few months, but it could take as long as 3 to 5 years. The journey will be full of surprises. Also, if the other party decides to lie and pretends to be the victim, you might end up being convicted for the charge. In the worst-case scenario, you will have to pay what you initially wanted to receive from the other party. Therefore, it is very important you understand how risky it can be.