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Exit Strategies: Lawsuit, Settlement, Walk Away

How are you going to get out of your lawsuit? Getting into a lawsuit’s fairly easy. As a petitioner or plaintiff, you file a lawsuit.  As a defendant, it’s served on you.  And you find yourself in a lawsuit.

Reaching a Settlement Agreement

But getting out of a lawsuit can be a lot harder. Basically, there are three ways to exit your lawsuit.  The first, and the most common way, is for the parties to reach a voluntary settlement agreement. A lot of times that is going to happen in mediation or at a mandatory settlement conference at the courthouse.

Statistically speaking, something like 97% of all civil cases settle before trial. Given the statistics, there’s a very good chance that your case will reach a voluntary settlement at some point. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to like everything in the settlement, but you’re going to get enough out of it to agree to put down your lawsuit and be done with it. That’s the number one way that you exit a case.

Going to Trial

The second way is to actually go to trial.  At some point, if there isn’t a voluntary settlement, then you’ll have to go to trial, either in front of a judge or a jury. The judge or jury will decide the outcome. They’ll decide who wins, who loses, and that will be the end of your case.

Walking Away From A Case

The third way to end your case is to simply walk away. That’s a little easier to do if you’re a plaintiff — the person who brought the lawsuit.  The person bringing the lawsuit always has the right to dismiss the lawsuit if he or she wants and can end it on that basis. As a defendant, it’s a little harder to do. Defendants or respondents don’t have a right to simply dismiss the lawsuit.

But as a petitioner or plaintiff, you always have the right to dismiss your lawsuit and walk away. You may feel that the lawsuit isn’t going anywhere and it’s not worth the effort and there doesn’t seem to be any money to go after, or maybe your legal claims aren’t as good as you thought. You always have the right to seek a voluntary dismissal of your case. That’s the third way in which you could be done with your lawsuit.