Litigation is a huge monetary and time expense. The drain on your nerves isn’t pretty either. In fact, some of the time wasted is bad not necessarily because of the time but how it’s spent. If it’s spent worrying about tasks that don’t deserve it, abandon those tasks. Save time. Save money. Avoid the drain on your nerves.
Avoid these 7 ways to waste time and money in litigation.
1. Suing the wrong person or company
Nothing contributes to wasted filing fees and court time more than a suit against the wrong party. To avoid this, first be sure that the law allows you to sue and that you know the elements of your claim. It would not be beneficial to sue a renter for the flaw of a sidewalk when it is the property owner’s responsibility to fix the problem. In the same way, research who the legal owner of a company is before suing a business and serving the clerk who has no ownership interest. Make a mistake, and you might have to start your filings all over again. Don’t waste time and money doing that.
2. Responding unnecessarily to court rulings
One of the hardest things for some litigants to do is move on after a court ruling. In most instances though, moving on is better than wasting time trying to “win” one ruling. A case in point is filing a motion for reconsideration in response to a judge’s denial of your Summary Judgment. It’s not the end of the world. You may have another chance to move for summary judgment later. So don’t waste time and money sulking.
Further, motions for reconsideration should bring in something the judge overlooked or was not aware of the first time. If you have nothing new to present, steer clear of wasting your and the court’s time. If you do have new information that you believe would have influenced the judge to rule the other way, file your motion with great care and by following the rules of civil procedure.
3. Responding to every motion
Some motions necessitate a response. However, there are plenty that don’t. A good example of one that doesn’t is a Motion for Extension of time to answer a complaint. You will spend more time responding to it and arguing with the court than the extra time the other party seeks. Pick your battles wisely to prevent constant reacting to every filing. When you think through your strategy from the beginning, you can let some filings go unanswered. That way, you don’t waste time and money.
4. Responding to extremely low offers of settlement
The other side may initially offer you one or more low offers to start a conversation. This step is not unusual. Typically, these are not the final offers. Therefore, it’s wise to set a budget. This budget determines the bottom line offer that you will entertain. When the other side goes way off the mark, offering say, $1000 on a case you know is worth $500,000, there is no point in responding. Spend your time finding ways to defeat them. If you must reply, keep it short, spending less than twenty minutes on content.
5. Moving for sanctions, especially for perjury
Moving for sanctions for perjury against a lawyer is generally a waste of time. Sure, an attorney is an officer of the court. So, he or she should tell the truth. However, moving for sanctions is rarely successful unless there is an egregious breach of trust. To prevail, you must provide ample proof of your allegations. Too, you’re up against something called litigation privilege, which makes lawyers pretty much immune to allegations of perjury.
6. Filing a complaint without facts
Want another way to waste time and money in litigation? File a complaint before you have all the facts. A complaint is nothing but facts really. It’s a list of facts! The facts make up a claim. No facts, no complaint. Lack of complete facts means an easy win for a defendant on the basis of failure to state a cause of action or failure to state a claim. So, if you don’t want to refile, spend more time, and pay more money, know the facts and include them in the complaint from the start.
7. Reacting to annoying lawyer stuff
A seasoned lawyer might try to get a rise out of a pro se litigant by saying or doing something annoying or outrageous. Don’t respond to every annoying thing your opponent’s lawyer does. The goal of litigation is to resolve a case. If you allow your emotions to take over, it is easy to lose your vision for the goal. Besides that, you add costly time. An exception is if your goal is to make the case last longer. Then, reacting might be a strategy. Otherwise, don’t let the other side frazzle you.
The Last Word
Whether you’re a plaintiff or defendant, ask and answer some important questions. What must you prove to support a claim, counterclaim or affirmative defense? What will persuade the other side to settle or a judge to decide in your favor? What evidence will you collect and present? Which filings are necessary and which are irrelevant to your goals?
In short, avoid activities that don’t advance your goals or strategy. There are so many things you’d rather be doing than litigation. But since you’re in it, you want to make the most of it. Right? So why spend your litigation time wasting resources and going crazy?