Should I consult with a lawyer before I file a lawsuit?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013

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You should always consult with a lawyer before you file a lawsuit. There are several reasons why this is a good idea, and a lot comes down to the fact that the legal system can be hard to navigate without professional help.

Basics of the Legal System

There are many, many rules in the legal system. These rules detail every aspect of a legal case. Just a few of the many examples of different rules that apply include:

  • Personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, forum and venue, and choice of law rules that dictate what court you may bring a suit it and what law is going to apply to govern that suit
  • Rules of evidence, which limit what kind of information is and is not admissible (for example, hearsay – or a recounting of a third party statement- isn’t admissible in court unless the statement falls into a limited array of exceptions, like the “excited utterance” rule)
  • Statutes of limitations indicating what time frame you may have to bring a claim in
  • Notice rules dictating when and how a defendant has to be made aware that he is being sued

These are just rules that deal with basic trial procedure. There is also a whole host of rules regarding what you need to do to actually prove your case. For the average layperson, understanding all these rules would not only be difficult and time consuming, but would be downright impossible without getting an extensive legal education.

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The Importance of a Lawyer

If you are planning to file a lawsuit, you should seriously consider consulting with a lawyer. A lawyer can help you figure out if you even have a case, and if so, how to navigate through all the court rules so you can prosecute your case successfully and get the compensation that you deserve.

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