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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I tell if I’m going to get sued?
There is no obvious answer to this question, but usually you can predict a lawsuit if you’ve received a letter from a lawyer, or if there has been a serious accident of some kind. Ignoring phone calls from creditors or customers may also result in legal action.

2. What if the government wants to talk to me?
Usually, the government will send a letter or perhaps an “administrative subpoena,” asking you to respond to certain questions. You may also get a phone call from an agency or government investigator, asking for information. If that happens, you should feel perfectly comfortable referring them to your attorney. It’s usually the wisest thing to do, and it doesn’t indicate guilt in any way. In fact, that’s what they probably expect.

3. What happens if I’m sued?
Most lawsuits begin with service of citation and a copy of the lawsuit. In Texas, you have about 20 days to file an answer in court. If you don’t then a default judgment may be taken against you and you might wind up being liable for something you never even had a chance to fight. Call your lawyer if you are served with legal papers of any kind.

4. What should I look for in an attorney or law firm?
You need the same thing you need in any relationship: trust and an ability to communicate. Feel free to ask as many questions as you want, and beware of lawyers who insist on any terms you’re not comfortable with.

5. What kind of law do you practice?
I do trial work, which means I handle cases that have gone to court or arbitration. However, I also provide ongoing legal advice regarding various business issues, which in many cases may prevent any lawsuit from even being filed.

6. Does every case go to trial?
No. Frequently, a dispute can be resolved with a few telephone calls or correspondence. This is not always the case, however, and unfortunately some lawsuits are filed as a first and not a last resort.

7. How long will a lawsuit last?
A lawsuit – from the time it is filed – can last anywhere from a few months to several years. In addition, the statute of limitations (the time in which to file suit) is generally two years for a personal injury claim, and four years for a contract dispute. There are other limits that may apply, and you should always look at the date of the claim to see if it falls within the required period.

8. Should I ever sue anyone?
Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the strength of the claim, the amount of money at stake, the willingness to endure the litigation process, and the likely outcome. Lawsuits are something to be taken seriously, and should never be filed out of anger or on a whim.

9. Is there any way to recover my attorney fees?
Some types of claims may permit the recovery of attorneys’ fees, such as where a contract allows the winning side to collect those costs. However, that result is not guaranteed, and you should always approach a case as if you were going to have to pay for the entire dispute out of your own pocket.

10. What is “discovery?”
“Discovery” is the legal term for written questions, requests for documents or other information, inspections of property, depositions (which occur when a witness is asked to testify before a court reporter prior to trial), and other methods for “discovering” the facts in a case. Discovery is expensive and can frequently involve more time and effort than the trial itself.

11. What is “mediation?”
Mediation occurs when the parties to a dispute hire a neutral third person, who presides over settlement discussions and makes suggestions or recommendations that may allow a case to be resolved without a trial. It is a non-binding process in which individuals or companies review the strength or weakness of their claims, and decide whether they can agree to compromise.

12. Can I appeal?
If a trial results on an adverse decision, then there may be a basis for filing an appeal. The decision to do so, however, carries its own considerations, and – like the decision to pursue litigation – should be taken seriously.


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