I’ll issue a classic lawyerly response: it depends…

I’m not kidding, it really does. The real questions you should ask yourself , though, aren’t whether or not you can sue, they are

“Can I sue and win?;” and

“Is it worth the hassle?

Questions a lawyer might ask you before taking on your case might be: Did you have an agreement with the customer? Is it in writing? Did your customer sign it? Did you do the work? Was the work done right? What did the customer complain about, if anything? And this list goes on… and on… and on… Ever wonder why lawyers often bill by the hour for their work?

So picture the following hypothetical: you run a small business, let’s say it’s an electrical outfit. Maybe we’ll call it “Mɪssɪᴏɴ: Eʟᴇᴄᴛʀɪᴄɪᴀɴ.” You’re respectable, upstanding, and you do honest, quality work in a timely fashion at an agreed-upon price. You take money out of your own pocket to pay for the materials (wires? switches? electrical tape? I don’t know, I’m not an electrician) and to pay your helper. Your customer—a repeat customer you’ve never had issues with before—is pleased with the work, and then comes the important part: he (or she) is then supposed to pay you. But what if he doesn’t?

The truth is, you might, in my hypothetical example above, have a slam dunk cause of action against him. Maybe you have a signed agreement with the customer, photographic proof of the work, receipts for materials, paystubs to show what you paid your helper, even a helper you can subpoena to testify, etc. But does that mean you automatically get paid once you sue? Not so fast…

It grinds your gears (as it should) that you’ve taken on the obligation to do the work, and fulfilled that obligation, and the you-know-what refuses to pay what he owes. Maybe he makes excuse after excuse, strings you along, and you are resigned to just saying “well I guess I’ll never see a dime of that money” and you chalk it up to the cost of doing business. Sure, it sounds like you have a claim with merit, but is it worth the effort of suing, and the expense?

This is where I (or one of my Brothers or Sisters at the Bar) come in. Maybe you want to let your bad customer know you will sue, and you’re willing to get a lawyer involved, if you have to. Sure, I get paid to take your case to court, but I’d be just as happy (in fact, in a lot of cases, happier) if I can just help you to urge the bad actor in your story to do the right thing and “perform” (that’s the legal jargon for holding up his end of the bargain). All cases are different, and this blog isn’t legal advice, so I invite you to call me to get some legal advice, if you want.

What if I Have More Questions?: If you want help deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer, E-mail me, Call me at (804) 250-8911 or fill out the form available here.



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