Lawsuits can become a death sentence to a business of any size or scale; neither localized family businesses, nor can multibillionaire corporations escape the legal system.
As the owner of a small and honest company, you may not have expected to get sued, but misfortunes happen. Lawsuits are intimidating, though you cannot reverse the situation or go back in time to do things differently. The only solution is to face your fears and hire an excellent attorney for representing your case.
No matter who filed the lawsuit and what the reason behind it, business litigation is a tiresome and costly affair.
1. Do Hire a Competent Lawyer
If you have a competent lawyer on your team, then consider yourself on the right track.
Your lawyer will already be familiar with the ins and outs of business law, so the legal paperwork won't be a hassle. Do not make the mistake of offering a settlement or going to court without a lawyer. Once you find a good lawyer, discuss all the particulars of your business and let him/her evaluate the seriousness of the suit.
An experienced attorney possess the skills to deduce what defenses are suited for a case and how the damage can be minimized.
2. Don't Communicate Directly with the Plaintiff
When served with a lawsuit from an employer, customer, or client, never reach out or contact them directly.
Let your lawyer do the talking because anything you say could be used against you in court. If the plaintiff tries to negotiate privately, perceive it as a deadly trap. Settling the matter out of court without a lawyer may seem simple, but it's really the opposite.
3. Do take your time to Review and Prepare
Thoroughly review the case with your lawyer before you answer the complaint filed against you. The court shall grant you a period of thirty days to reply, so use it wisely. You need to identify what allegations are deniable and which are not.
Prepare your defenses and build immunity against the prosecutor's cross-questioning. You can opt for a judge/jury trial or arrange for an out-of-court settlement in the presence of lawyers of both parties.
Don't Disregard the Statute of Limitations
Thirty days fly by faster than you think, so quit procrastinating. Work out the lawsuit details efficiently and wrap it up. If you ignore the deadline, the plaintiff acquires the right to file a 'Request for Default' and you lose the chance to fight back; consequently, he/she obtains victory and you are bound to whatever the court decides.
5. Do try to Settle out of Court
Regardless of fault, it is always recommended to reach a settlement before the court date. Negotiate with the plaintiff through your lawyer in order to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. In case the prosecution is being unfair or greedy, going to trial could be a feasible option. Your lawyer will suggest litigation only if your chances of winning the case look promising.
6. Don't give Insurers the Benefit of the Doubt
You got your business insured for a reason, so immediately inform the insurance company when you get sued. Their policies are designed to cover several types of costs, which include liabilities attached to plausible lawsuits.
Bear in mind that all insurance providers are looking out for their own interests, rather than the benefit of their clients. They will strive to locate loopholes and cut down payables as much as possible. Your lawyer will save you from the treachery of insurance adjusters.