Perhaps you’re reeling from a surprise lawsuit at work. Or maybe you’re in the midst of a divorce that was a long time coming. Whatever the cause, going through a legal case is never easy. If you’re feeling nervous, overwhelmed, or even panicked, you may wonder how to emotionally survive a lawsuit.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, we’ve prepared a guide to help you through this difficult time. From building a support system to managing financial stress, the following suggestions can help reduce the emotional toll of litigation.

Understanding the Emotional Impact of a Lawsuit

For starters, let’s face reality: this will be difficult. Coping effectively with legal battles requires you to recognize and prepare for the possibility.

Recognizing the Stressors Involved

A lawsuit can affect you on multiple fronts, including the following:

  • Practical: Whether you are gathering evidence, attending conferences, or just less mentally available, a lawsuit will take time and energy away from your family, work, and daily routine.
  • Financial: While many plaintiffs’ lawyers work on contingency fees, you will likely have to pay an attorney based on an hourly basis to defend you in a lawsuit. If you can’t work as you normally do, you may have additional financial challenges.
  • Emotional: Whether your lawsuit involves a business partner or a stranger, you will probably experience a roller coaster of emotions. Shock, sadness, nervousness, and anger are all normal feelings.

Managing Anxiety and Fear

Two of the strongest emotions when facing a lawsuit are anxiety and fear. You may worry about losing your professional license, business, reputation, or personal assets.

In your darkest moments, it may help to remember that this whole episode will one day be behind you. In the meantime, taking steps to manage fear and anxiety is essential to maintaining your physical and mental health during lawsuits.

Seeking Emotional Support

man seeking emotional support to a group of people

The emotional and psychological costs of lawsuits can be difficult to navigate. Some days, you may want to stay in bed or disappear alone on a tropical getaway. Alternatively, you may prefer to busy yourself with work and refuse to discuss your feelings. While sleep, relaxation, and work all have a place during a pending lawsuit, they’re no substitute for emotional support (for defendants or plaintiffs!).

Building a Support System

Depending on your personality, social isolation may be tempting. But it’s generally not a solution to your problems — and can even worsen them.

Loneliness increases stress, causes sleeplessness, and can damage your health. In contrast, people with more social support typically handle stress better. One caveat: Ask your attorney if you should avoid sharing certain details of your case.

Utilizing Professional Counseling Services

Some people feel more comfortable sharing emotions with friends, while others prefer to talk to professionals. Just venting about your situation can be therapeutic, but a trained counselor can offer practical solutions. If you’re feeling extremely depressed, anxious, or even suicidal, make sure to seek professional help. In some cases medication may be useful to help you emotionally survive a lawsuit.

Maintaining Perspective and Realistic Expectations

You may wish to go back to a time before the lawsuit started. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic. However, you can take several practical steps to keep everything in perspective. For example, try focusing on your strengths or making a list separating your facts from your fears, which can stop your brain from spiraling.

Accepting Uncertainty

One of the worst parts of a lawsuit is how out of control it makes you feel. To some degree, lawsuit stress management requires you to lean into this feeling.

Of course, feeling defeated or giving up altogether is counterproductive. But giving up on trying to control the uncontrollable frees up precious time and energy.

Focusing on the Present Moment

During stressful situations, our brains are often overactive. One of the more important tips for emotionally surviving a lawsuit is to stay out of your head and in the present moment. This may mean volunteering in your community, playing a sport, interacting with animals, or spending time in nature.

Engaging in Self-Care Practices

woman doing meditation yoga self care practice at home

Maintaining your well-being in court cases requires you to care for yourself mentally and physically.

Prioritizing Physical Health

Stressful situations — especially ones you’ve never experienced before — can be unmooring. It’s important to establish and maintain a daily routine. It may seem basic, but eating properly, staying hydrated, sleeping enough, and exercising are all essential for physical and mental health.

Practicing Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

When you feel stressed, your muscles tighten, your blood pressure goes up, and your immune system often weakens. Work on breaking this pattern by engaging in healthy relaxation techniques. Book a massage, take a hot bath, or practice yoga. Mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling can also help.

Managing Financial Stress

If you’re a medical provider, legal professional, or financial advisor, your malpractice insurance will likely pay for your legal defense. In some cases, liability insurance will as well. Otherwise, you will need to take measures to handle the financial aspects of a lawsuit.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Having the proper business structures and asset protection strategies in place beforehand can help mitigate the financial harm of lawsuits. If the lawsuit has already started, consider talking with a financial advisor about budgeting for legal representation and planning for the judgment or settlement.

Due to the likelihood of litigation in certain occupations, some professionals even set aside a percentage of their income for potential claims.

Exploring Resources for Legal Aid or Assistance

If you can’t afford an attorney, there are several free and low-cost legal assistance options, including the following:

Communicating Effectively With Your Legal Team

close up of attorney meeting with client

Clear communication with your attorneys is essential to emotionally survive a lawsuit. It helps you understand expectations, helps them represent you better, and helps everyone avoid misunderstandings.

Establishing Open Communication Channels

Remember your attorney is on your side. While you may feel embarrassed, angry, or annoyed about having to share personal details and sensitive information, your lawyer needs the truth. Being open and honest from the beginning helps your legal team prepare a defense and avoid costly surprises.

Clarifying Expectations and Roles

The legal process will go more smoothly when you understand what your attorney can and can’t do, what they expect of you, and how the process works. Having these conversations up front helps manage expectations, prevent disagreements, and avoid disappointments, which can do wonders for your mental health.

Educating Yourself About the Legal Process

One daunting aspect of the legal system is that it seems to be another world — with its own language, rules, and conventions. Educating yourself on the litigation process can help provide some structure during what may feel like a chaotic time.

Understanding the Stages of Litigation

Your legal team will help you understand what to expect in your case. Civil lawsuits have the following general phases:

  • Pleadings: The plaintiff files paperwork (a “complaint”) to start the case and the other party files a response.
  • Discovery: The two parties gather evidence to support their case and exchange information with the other side.
  • Pre-Trial: Both parties prepare for the upcoming trial and may engage in settlement negotiations.
  • Trial: If the two sides do not come to an agreement, they will go to trial. After attorneys from each side present evidence and examine witnesses, a judge or jury makes the decision.
  • Post-Trial: The winning party may try to collect the judgment, or one or both sides may appeal.

Participating Actively in Your Case

Your attorney should tell you how you can prepare for your lawsuit. To improve your chances of success, listen to them carefully and follow their advice. At the bare minimum, this includes staying in touch with your legal team, showing up on time for hearings or meetings, and gathering any evidence they request.

Setting Boundaries and Limiting Exposure

Because your legal case can quickly become emotionally overwhelming, it’s important to set boundaries to protect yourself.

Managing Media and Public Attention

For public figures and business owners, high-profile legal cases require a strategic media management response. A litigation communications attorney and/or public relations consultant can offer helpful advice.

Protecting Your Privacy and Well-Being

Staying off social media benefits you in more ways than one. If you’re a public figure, it can protect you from having to see what the press is saying about you or your lawsuit. Even if you’re not, your attorney will likely ask you to refrain from posting since it could be used as evidence against you.

No matter who you are, limiting screen time can help boost your mood, improve your sleep, and promote mindfulness — all essential when you’re looking for how to emotionally survive a lawsuit.

Need an Asset Protection Attorney?

Protecting your assets before a lawsuit occurs can safeguard your financial future and provide peace of mind. For more information, contact Blake Harris Law today.