When you are trying to settle a lawsuit, don’t lose sight of the elephant in the room.

ELEPHANT-IN-THE-ROOM-1

Its not easy to find or part with the money often needed to settle a lawsuit.   You might think that your toughest negotiations will be with the opposing party.  However, there is often an even larger stakeholder in the dispute; someone on your own side; someone who will likely have to be paid first from whatever proceeds are generated upon resolution of the lawsuit; someone who you might have already agreed to pay more than you could ever reasonably expect to recover in court.

The American rule of damages

If you are not careful, the biggest damage and expense that you will incur will be your attorney fees.  In the United States, the average cost (bill) to try a civil lawsuit is between $43,000 and $122,000.  Why does it cost so much, because everything in court is a fight. 

In the United States, each party to a lawsuit is responsible for paying their own attorney’s fees, unless there is a specific statute or contract that allows the assessment of those fees against the other party.  In other words, when it comes to litigation, everyone is usually left to pay their own legal bill.  

How to Secure Your Right to Seek Recovery of Your Attorney Fees

The rights and remedies available in many civil cases originate and flow from whatever contract / agreement was reached between the parties.   In the United States, we all have the freedom to choose with whom to contract, whether to contract or not, and on which terms to contract.  Sometimes people choose to make agreements based solely on a handshake, sometimes there are just phone calls, emails or just text messages.  None of this will likely be enough to establish liability and protect your legal right to recover damages in court should a dispute later arise.  If you want to make sure you will have a right to seek recovery of your attorney fees in the event of a lawsuit, you better make sure to discuss it with the other parties upfront and include it in a written agreement signed by all parties.

 

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