Unless you are a lawyer, you didn’t go into business to deal with lawsuits. Unfortunately, you may not be interested in lawsuits, but if you stay in business long enough, sooner or later a lawsuit is going to be interested in you.
Lawsuits happen for a wide variety of reasons, and even if you do your very best to comply with regulations, treat people fairly, honor your obligations, and make your company the best at what it does, there is a good chance you or your company will end up at some point getting sued. Maybe a new employee’s former employer thinks you are using the former employer’s confidential information, or a customer contends your product or service is defective, or a former employee is claiming unpaid wages or some form of discrimination. Whether the claim is based on the actual performance of your company’s core business or from an employment or partnership relationship, an arrangement with a vendor, or compliance with some sort of regulation, a lawsuit can be a time-consuming distraction and a threat to your financial well-being and to the future of your company.
If you learn that you or your company is being sued, call us immediately for a free consultation. The biggest mistake we see business owners make is to think that because a suit seems frivolous it can be ignored or neglected. Understandably, a conscientious business owner who knows he or she has done nothing wrong feels like an unfounded claim should shrivel up and blow away. In reality, though, a lawsuit against you or your company is a serious thing that must be dealt with aggressively, as there are strict deadlines for responding to complaints and discovery requests. The most likely way for the plaintiff in a frivolous case to win is for the defendant not to treat the matter seriously and with sufficient urgency. Do not make this mistake.
My Company and I Have Been Sued: What Can I Do?
When somebody sues you or your company, your first notice will probably come when the preliminary legal documents – a complaint, which contains the claims the person is making, and a summons, which requires you to respond to the complaint within a certain number of days – are delivered to you or your authorized agent. It is important that you get these documents in the hands of your attorney as quickly as possible so your attorney will have sufficient time to prepare a thorough response and submit it to the court before the deadline.
While it can be frustrating to have to hire an attorney to defend against a lawsuit you think has no merit, not doing so is always be a big mistake. First of all, outside of small-claims court a company can only be represented in court by a licensed attorney. If an owner or officer of, for example, a closely-held corporation or a limited-liability company, were to respond to a lawsuit on the company’s behalf, the response would be legally void and the company would suffer the same consequences as if it failed to respond to the lawsuit at all. Even for you as an individual, though, an attorney has procedural and substantive legal knowledge that will allow the attorney to deal with each aspect of the case much more efficiently than you could, and will – and this is perhaps most important – save you the time you would have to have spent educating yourself on the legal process. In the long run, taking the lawsuit immediately to a qualified business litigation attorney, and letting that attorney lead you through the process, is the most cost-effective and efficient way for you to respond to a lawsuit.
Once the suit is in your lawyer’s hands, the first step is generally to prepare an answer to the complaint. After the answer is filed, there is usually a period of six months in which the two parties can use various techniques – including written questions (called interrogatories) sent to the other party, requests to the other party or potential witnesses to produce documents or other things for examination, and taking sworn testimony from the other party or potential witnesses – to develop the case and learn about the other side’s claims and defenses. Along the way the parties may ask the court for various orders governing certain aspects of the case, and sometimes ask the court for rulings that will decide the case one way or the other without a trial. Eventually, if the case does not settle and is not resolved summarily by the court, the case will go to trial, which is an experience all of its own.
There is no way in a brief overview to describe all the possible courses a lawsuit could take. The point here is that properly defending yourself or your company in a lawsuit is a complicated and time-consuming process, and that the surest, least-expensive, and most efficient way to deal with a legal threat is to let us take care of the problem for you. We recognize that a legal problem like a lawsuit is really a business problem, and ultimately a personal problem. We will do everything we can to get you to the best possible outcome, while protecting your money and your time.
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To say that time is money may be a cliché, but it is a cliché because it is true, and a business owner knows that as well as anybody. Every minute you spend dealing with a lawsuit is a minute you can’t spend working either in your business or on it. Hand that responsibility over to a professional who can guide you to the best possible result while protecting your time so you can focus on what is truly important for you to spend your time on. If you or your company has been sued, call us or contact us online to set up a consultation today.
“I have known and worked with Ken for the past 2 years and I can truly say that having him on speed dial has enhanced my life as a CEO (and personally). Having access to a great lawyer, legal adviser (for business and personal) and a fellow business owner who faces decisions, opportunities and challenges like mine, and who understands my business and is committed to my success without bias or vested interest has been paramount.”Juan R.