Believe it or not, it’s actually in your best interests for a civil suit to stay out of the courtroom. This holds true whether you’re the plaintiff or the defendant. But how can you avoid that court date, exactly?

I’d like to start by dropping a bit of news that might surprise you. Simply put, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of whether you’re the plaintiff or defendant, the majority of the time, it’s in your best interests to keep a civil suit out of the courtroom. Sure, you might have the occasional case where one of the two parties wants to take things public and air everything out before a judge. But litigation is stressful. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating. Moreover, where civil suits are concerned, it has the troubling tendency to exacerbate a situation that’s already emotionally-charged, resulting in a drawn-out fight that leaves both sides bitter and angry. Even if you were friendly with the person on the other side of the courtroom before standing before a judge, good luck mending fences once you’ve argued things out in court.

There’s a reason so many civil cases end up going into the song-and-dance of settlement offers before a judge is brought in. Not only is it much easier to work things out when you aren’t legally at one another’s throats, but it’s also a lot simpler to develop a win/win scenario if you can sit down and talk things out constructively.

But how do you ensure that’s even possible? How do you keep negotiations open without everything falling down around your ears? In a few ways…

  • Always remain calm. If tempers are flaring, that means you’ve already lost. During depositions and settlement meetings, keep your wits about you, and don’t let the other side goad you into saying—or doing—anything you might regret.
  • Keep a realistic outlook. Try to keep an open mind about what’s likely to happen—and always be willing to look at things from your opponent’s perspective. The more you understand what they’re doing and the better-equipped you’ll be to reach a settlement that you can both be happy with. And if your case does go to court, a thorough understanding of your opponent will help you a great deal.
  • Be patient. Civil suits take a long time to resolve - years, depending on how extensive they are. Very rarely are they resolved overnight. Understand, though, that if you rush to court, there’s a good chance things will take even longer.
  • Never stop building your case. You’d be surprised where you might find new evidence, or where a new argument might surface. Even if you think you’ve got an ironclad case, you should always be on the lookout for new bits and pieces of information.
  • Trust your attorney. Last but certainly not least, assuming you’ve done your due diligence before hiring, trust that your attorney knows what they’re and that they have your best interests at heart. If they can get a settlement offer that you’re happy with, they will—better that than having to spend hours upon hours in court.

Civil suits are stressful enough without bringing them into the courtroom. By understanding your opponent’s stance, keeping calm and professional, and remaining patient, you can greatly increase the chances that you’ll be able to resolve things without having to step before a judge.

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Ryan B. Bormaster is the managing attorney at Bormaster Law. The law firm practices in a number of areas but specializes in 18 Wheeler Accidents, Accidents with Commercial Vehicles such as Work Trucks and Catastrophic Injuries of all kinds.