Typically, you want to avoid litigation. It can be expensive and time-consuming, and when it happens between business partners, it’s a surefire way to end that relationship. That said, sometimes it’s unavoidable. When pursuing litigation, it’s important to avoid the various pitfalls that could ruin your case. In this piece, we’ll discuss six common litigation mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Neglecting Cost-Benefit Analysis
The first mistake may be that of pursuing litigation at all. It’s important to perform a cost-benefit analysis on what you hope to gain from your lawsuit. This not only tells you whether it is even worth pursuing, but it also helps you stay focused on what’s most important if you do decide to litigate.
Too often, people let their emotions run their decisions in the event of a dispute. By assessing the financial benefits of winning a lawsuit (not to mention comparing that with your odds of success), you can move forward with an analytical mindset rather than an emotional one.
2. Focusing on the Inconsequential
Naturally, focusing on what’s important means you need to avoid doubling down on aspects of your case that are inconsequential. Some items are critical to your case, whereas others may just be red herrings that would only draw everyone’s attention away from what actually matters.
In addition, it’s important not to let yourself get riled up by your opponent’s behavior. Often, disputes over unethical behavior on the part of the other party can distract you from the key elements that will help you win your case.
3. Making Self-Damaging Statements
With the exception of privileged communication between you and your lawyer, everything you say could be used against you. Emails, calls, words said in meetings, or any other confrontations with the opposing party should be kept professional and free of anything that could reflect badly on you. Simply put, you need to be careful not to say anything prior to litigation that could make you look like the bad guy.
4. Failing to Keep Adequate Documentation
Proper documentation is vital to winning a lawsuit since it provides much of the evidence needed to support your position. Events related to your case should be carefully documented, and items such as contracts, notices, and other legal documents must be preserved.
At the same time, be careful what you put in writing (see again pitfall number 3). Your attorney can guide you on what needs to be recorded and what can be left out.
5. Doing Anything Shady
In the course of litigation, your reputation and the strength of your case are more important than any edge you might gain by bending the rules—and they’re certainly not worth risking. Even something innocuous like evading questions during a deposition could undermine the credibility of your position if you’re caught, often for very little advantage gained.
6. Doing It Alone
One final litigation mistake that people and companies make is to try to do it alone. You need legal help in some form, whether that’s in-house or through outside counsel. Even then, in-house attorneys may not have the litigation experience necessary to help you pull through. Litigation has many moving parts, many of which require extensive experience to navigate successfully. If you’re in a position where litigation seems likely, contact an attorney as soon as possible.