Many people feel a range of emotions if being sued including shock, stress, anxiety and depression.
You must know that a lawsuit isn’t the end of the world. While you certainly don’t want to ignore the matter, you shouldn’t obsess about it either. Take a deep breath and think logically. Some key factors to keep in mind include:
The plaintiff must prove their case
In a criminal case, you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty. The burden rests on the shoulders of the party bringing the charges (the prosecution) to prove their case. The dynamic is similar in a civil lawsuit. A plaintiff has the burden to prove that you breached your contract, left them injured, or harmed them financially or physically.
While a judge is likely to throw out a lawsuit that they deem frivolous, it’s unlikely to deter a would-be plaintiff from filing their case. There’s also no guarantee that they can establish the elements or connect the defendant’s breach to the injury (proximate cause), as is often required in civil litigation cases. Proving that a monetary loss resulted from this can be even more challenging.
Civil and criminal penalties aren’t the same
There’s generally an imposition of fines, restitution and prison time when a defendant is found guilty of a criminal offense. There’s generally no incarceration involved in civil cases (unless a defendant is tried criminally as well as civilly).
It can hurt your wallet or company’s bottom line to have a jury or judge award monetary damages that you have to pay; it may not ultimately come out of your pocket. Your errors and omissions, homeowners’ policy, or any other insurance you have may cover the costs instead of you directly. Insurers may raise your insurance premiums or cancel your policies after making this payout.
When facing a lawsuit, some steps to take include not destroying evidence and not making statements to anyone. You also want to carefully weigh the case and defense strategies for the best outcome.