Frequently Asked Questions about Business Litigation
Q. Who pays the expenses of business litigation?
A. A court judgment will frequently order the losing party to pay the costs of the lawsuit. These costs may include court filing fees and deposition expenses, among others. As a general rule, each party is responsible for paying his or her own attorney's fees, but there are some exceptions:
- Parties may have agreed in a contract to pay the other party's attorney's fees;
- The lawsuit may involve a law that provides for payment of attorneys' fees; or
- Courts may award attorneys' fees to a party, if it is found that the other party engaged in frivolous or bad-faith litigation, or pursued legal theories that have no merit.
Q. How long will the lawsuit take?
A. The length of time a lawsuit takes depends on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, the willingness of the parties to resolve the case, and how busy the court is. A relatively simple suit, not involving any complex legal or factual issues, could be over in a few months, while a very complicated, multi-party suit, could take years to resolve.
Q. Who will hear the case?
A. Most business lawsuits may be heard by a jury. If the parties agree, a jury may be waived, and the case heard by the judge. Sometimes the parties may agree to have the case decided by an arbitrator in binding arbitration. The arbitrator, who may have special knowledge about that area of law, is an attorney agreed upon by and paid by the parties.
Q. Is there pressure to settle cases out of court?
A. Courts encourage settlement, but cannot require parties to settle a case. It is usually in each party's best interest to settle a case without going through a trial. Trials can be costly, and consume a lot of time that could better be spent on other things. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties have the right to proceed to trial.
Q. Can my case be heard in federal court?
A. Federal courts have the authority, or jurisdiction, to hear cases involving questions of federal law. If your case involves a federal law or a federal program, or if the United States government is a party to the action, it may be heard in federal court. Federal courts also may hear cases between citizens of two or more states if the amount involved in the suit is more than $75,000.
Q: What should I bring with me for my meeting with a lawyer?
A: You should provide a lawyer with any documents that might be relevant to your case. The more information you are able to give your lawyer, the easier it will be for him or her to determine if your claim will be successful. Whatever documents you haven't collected at the time of your first meeting can be collected by your lawyer.
What are my lawyer's responsibilities to me?
A: Your attorney should zealously represent your rights and interests as vigorously as the law allows. All communications with your attorney must remain confidential. You have the right to have the case and issues explained carefully and fully. Whenever there is a question or concern, we are available to visit with you about it. We involve our clients in the settlement process; and no settlement will ever be made without a client's understanding and consent.