We’ve all heard the term “lawsuit.” Some people believe that our society is “sue happy”, or that we’re too “litigious”, which means that there are too many lawsuits on file with the courts. Some of this belief comes from people’s mistaken understanding about what lawsuits are and why they are filed. In order to break down those misunderstandings, we must define a few terms.
First, let’s explore what a lawsuit is.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a lawsuit is defined as follows:
“LAWSUIT. A vernacular term for a suit, action, or cause instituted or depending between two private persons in the courts of law. A suit at law or in equity; an action or proceeding in a civil court; a process in law instituted by one party to compel another to do him justice. Shepherd v. Standard Motor Co., 263 Ky. 329, 92 S.W.2d 337.”
In everyday language, a lawsuit is when one party files a case against another person in court. In the personal injury context, an injured person brings a suit/case against the person(s) or entities responsible for his/her injuries. The case begins when the injured person bringing the lawsuit files a “petition” or a “complaint”, which is a document explaining why the injured person is suing and who the injured person is suing.
Oftentimes petitions or complaints are referred to as “pleadings”, which is just a fancy legal word to describe what someone is asking the court to do. In the personal injury context, the injured person is “pleading” or asking the court through its petition to hold the other party responsible for their injuries.
When Does it Make Sense to File a Lawsuit?
Believe it or not, there are not that many personal injury lawsuits filed every year. We are told by insurance companies and corporations that personal injury lawsuits are clogging our courts and making it harder for our economy to grow. The truth is that there are fewer and fewer lawsuits every year. That’s because people typically settle most of their cases before any lawsuit is filed.
Lawsuits are difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, but they are necessary in certain cases. If an injured person does not receive a reasonable offer from an insurance company or from an at-fault party, then the injured person should file a lawsuit. Sometimes, the only way to hold someone or something accountable in a personal injury case is to file a lawsuit.
Each case is different and so the question of whether you should file a lawsuit depends on a number of factors. For instance, what does your attorney advise you to do? Do you believe your attorney has your best interests in mind? Do you think you are getting a reasonable offer? Are you comfortable with going to trial and potentially losing your case? Are you comfortable with going through the process of a lawsuit, which includes time, inconvenience, and sometimes frustration?
These are among a few of the questions you have to answer and hopefully answer with your attorney when considering whether to file a lawsuit. Since each case and every person is different, the answers will always vary from case to case and person to person.
Lawsuits are an important part of our judicial system. Even though they get a bad name, lawsuits have held wrongdoers responsible for the injuries they cause and have shed a light on wrongful actions. Even when a lawsuit is unsuccessful, the person bringing the suit can have some relief knowing that they did everything they could to bring justice to light.
The question of whether you should bring a lawsuit in your case is a difficult one to answer, and will depend on a number of factors. If you want to discuss your case with an experienced trial attorney, our firm is here to talk with you and answer any questions you might have.