The earlier post on looking at litigation from the litigant’s viewpoint led to some interesting comments, on the blog itself; on LinkedIn and on twitter. It was particularly interesting to hear from lawyers who had been involved in litigation on a personal basis.
This is not an issue generally considered in legal education or, indeed, in professional training. However there is guidance available, particularly from the United States and particularly in relation to the medical profession. However, as we shall see, there is also guidance for the commercial litigant.
“Try not to direct your anger at your lawyer. Don’t kill the messenger. In most instances, your lawyer is doing the best he or she can to protect your interests.”
Looking for general guidance, the post by Alex Craigie On Getting Through the Drama of a Lawsuit. The key seven points:-
- Find a lawyer you trust.
- Trust the lawyer you find.
- Participate in your case.
- Manage your anger, fear or frustration.
- Try not to direct your anger or frustration at your loved one.
- Try not to direct your anger at lawyer.
- Brace yourself for the long haul, but know it will come to an end
The advice in Law Info Blog in How to Cope with Being Sued is of general application:-
“Get informed. The first step in coping with a lawsuit is to get informed about the process. Talk to a lawyer about what to expect, what kinds of time limits are in place, whether you have a good basis upon which to dispute liability or claimed damages, and whether settling out of court or defending the case at trial would be more beneficial to your situation. Obtaining this kind of information base about what can be anticipated will has been shown to greatly improve coping abilities. Defendants can then prepare themselves and begin to react strategically, rather than emotionally, to the various phases of the legal matter.”
“At the end of the day, unyielding perseverance and determination will allow you to overcome whatever you’re up against. The first lawsuit will make you feel like the world is set against you; however, once you’re done with this battle you’ll realize it’s just a normal part of business. Welcome to the big leagues, you’ve been noticed.“
- Fehzan Ali Seven Must-Read Tips for Your First Lawsuit.
- Alex Craigie On Getting Through the The Drama of a Lawsuit
LEARN FROM THE PROCESS
There are several interesting accounts in Success: How to Survive a Lawsuit. Several businesses state that, despite the stress, litigation was a boon for their company.
“I don’t think we would be as successful as we are if this had not happened. The focus we gained enabled us to grow between 60 and 70 percent per year, and today we have 20 employees and $8 million in annual revenue.”
LAWSUITS AS A “LEARNING EXPERIENCE”
Similar points emerge in the article by Neil Patel – What I learned from Fighting a 12-Month Lawsuit. The need to continue to develop your business, and cope with the litigation at the same time is a common theme.
“Don’t look at lawsuits or any obstacles that come your way as a negative thing. Instead, see them as a learning experience. They are just roadblocks that you will eventually run into as your company gets larger”
WHEN DOCTORS GET SUED
“Someone who has not been the subject of a lawsuit may find it difficult to appreciate the emotional effects of such a suit on a caring, concerned physician and that physician’s family. We’ve spent our lives doing the best we can to treat our patients properly; now someone is telling us that we don’t really care whether our patients get well or not. Most physicians who have been sued will list the suit as the single most stressful experience of their lives”
BORNE IN THE USA…
Guidance for doctors getting sued is widespread. Particularly in the United States. This is not surprising, see the statistics in Kevin MD’s 4 keys to manage medical malpractice stress syndrome.
“A group at Harvard has estimated that by age 65, more than 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties such as family medicine and 99% of physicians in high-risk specialties such as surgery will have been sued. Over 95% of physicians do experience emotional distress during some or all of the process of litigation. Malpractice suits can take between one to four years to be resolved. If the stress and emotional upheaval associated with a lawsuit is not effectively managed, it can wreck havoc with your health, your relationships, and your practice.”
READ THE BLOG AND THEN READ THE BOOK
- There is a full length book on the subject: Physicians Survival Guide to Litigation Stress. Understanding, Managing and Transcending a Malpractice Crisis
GUIDANCE FOR MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS
- The consequences for doctors is considered in the Personal and Professional Impact of Medical Malpractice Claims.
- The issue is also considered carefully in The Liability Stress Syndrome.
- Modern Medicine – You’ve been sued. There’s help.
- American Medical News – Litigation Stress: Being sued is personal as well as professional.
- Sanbar and Firestone on Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome.
THE MENTAL HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF CIVIL LITIGATION
There is a well known problem known as “litigation stress”
- This is considered in a systematic way in The Litigation Patient: Mental Health Consequences of Civil Litigation. by Larry H Strasburger, MD.
- Mental Healthy – Lawsuit Stress: The Dark Side of Litigation