Disclaimer: The contents of this article should not be taken as legal advice and should only be used as a resource to provide information about the key tips on how to help prevent business litigation. You should always seek the services of a lawyer specializing in business litigation cases to give you a more in-depth view of this matter.
Your business has been running for one year now. Since it’s still young, you’ve been doing most of the administrative tasks – doing the payroll, checking the staff’s attendance and measuring their performance. Presently, you’re only managing seven staff who help you in running the business. You’re okay with this kind of set-up because you think you have everything you’ll ever need for your business’ daily operations. This routine was able to work successfully in the past, and you think this will still work in the future, unless if your business will consider an expansion. However, you received a document recently telling you that your business will be sued by a customer who was offended by your staff in public. Of course, this situation is something you’d never dreamed of. But since it’s now happening, you’re thinking of how you to save your business’ name, and your sanity as well.
Once you’re faced with this kind of situation, you want to be careful in whatever you do. Business litigations can be reason enough for your business to die once you’re not able to handle this situation effectively – and you don’t want that to happen, do you? Since this is still your first time to experience business litigation, you might be clueless about what you should do. And while it can be an easy way out, hiding in your office until the lawsuit dies down will only worsen the damages your business can acquire in the long run. To guide you through these trying times, you should consider these if you’re going through business litigation:
1. You should review the lawsuit with an attorney
The moment you receive the lawsuit documents, review everything with your attorney. You should ensure that all the necessary details – your name, the company’s name and the details of the complaints – are written in the document. And although it can be tempting to talk and settle disputes like this with the plaintiff, don’t do it. All communications should be done through your attorney. If the plaintiff is your employee and you’re required to mingle with him/her in the office, never mention anything about the lawsuit.
2. You should decide how to proceed with the lawsuit
You don’t have the luxury of time once you receive a lawsuit for your business. You should respond within 30 days after the receipt of the lawsuit documents because if you don’t, you’re prohibiting your business to be heard and to defend itself in court. Talk to your attorney about what’s the best option for you in this situation. Regardless of which direction you and your attorney may be heading, always make sure that your response includes the following items:
- Your admittance or denial of the plaintiff’s accusations
- Your defenses against the plaintiff’s claims
- If you want a jury trial or alternative resolution
Draft your response letter with the presence of your attorney. You have to be careful with how you use your words to ensure that you’re getting the right point across. If you’re using words without knowing what they mean in the legal context, you might be risking your chances of winning the lawsuit.
3. You should never ignore the lawsuit
Different states have a different timeframe on how long you’re allowed to respond to a business lawsuit. Check the state laws applicable to your business and make sure you adhere to all of these. You should always respond to the lawsuit because if you won’t, the plaintiff will win and you didn’t even put up a fight. Aside from winning, the plaintiff can also have the liberty of suing you for any financial damages the lawsuit requires. This will have adverse effects on your business.
4. You should work with an attorney who is a good communicator
There might be a lot of attorneys in your area who have experience in dealing with business litigations, but only a few lawyers can communicate well. Hiring an attorney to help you in this phase is expensive so you should get your money’s worth, and that’s by working with an attorney who can deliver business matters in a clear and consistent manner. This should be one of your considerations when you’re looking for an attorney to handle your business lawsuit. Once you have a lawyer who’s a fit to your qualifications, he/she should also provide you with frequent status reports and copies of essential pleadings relevant to the lawsuit.
Facing business litigations is indeed a terrifying situation for any entrepreneur. Now that you know your business is being sued, you can’t focus on your business and your staff. Your mind will be clouded with thoughts on how you can make things right and how you can prevent your business from dying. But you don’t have to worry because there are ways on how you can still save your business image and your operations. You just have to be very careful about what you do and always make sure that your actions are approved by the attorney you’re working with.