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The realities of business litigation -- it's not like it is on TV

Hollywood often portrays courtroom dramas as good against evil. One party has right on its side and is victorious over the other party, which often ends up portrayed as the wrongdoer. Then there is the perception that all cases are like criminal trials.

The reality of business litigation is often much different. Most of it occurs behind the scenes, and there is often no jury hearing passionate pleas from attorneys. Instead, these cases often rely on documentation and a decision from a judge. Moreover, civil cases function differently than criminal ones. One difference that may work to your advantage is that the burden of proof is not as stringent as it is in criminal cases.

No two cases are exactly alike

You may have a colleague or business associate who took another party to court and won. You may discuss your situation and believe that you have the same type of case, so you should win your case. Right? Wrong. Every case has a different set of facts no matter how close you believe your case is to one won by someone else.

When a judge hears all of the evidence from both sides, the possibility always exists that your case could end differently.

You may have a judgment, but that doesn't mean you'll get paid right away

Even if the court rules in your favor, you may encounter issues collecting the money that the other party owes you. Having a judgment and receiving payment are mutually exclusive. It may be necessary to engage in post-judgment collection efforts in order to get paid.

In addition, even if a Florida civil court awards you attorney's fees, this does not mean that you are off the hook for their payment. You may recover those costs when you collect on the judgment, but that doesn't mean you aren't responsible for paying your attorney.

Settlement may be a better option

You may be like many people who want their "day in court." You may feel wronged and want a judge to tell you that you're right. However, in reality, the majority of civil cases resolve outside the courtroom. If you receive a settlement offer that you can live with, you may be better off taking it than going to court. Facts are what matter in the courtroom, which may not necessarily coincide with what you believe is right.

It's still worth pursuing

In spite of the realities associated with civil lawsuits, this does not mean that you shouldn't pursue this legal option. Before making your decision, it may be a good idea to determine whether going to court will truly serve your purposes and needs. The time, cost and effort needed to take a case through trial may not be in the best interests of your business. Discussing your circumstances with an attorney may help you decide what direction to take and provide you with a way to get there.

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Barker Cook

501 East Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 1040
Tampa, FL 33602

Phone: 813-489-1001
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