The dreaded lawsuit could happen at any time, in any situation and to any business. There are a myriad of reasons that a small business can be sued and end up being served those dreaded forms. An employee may feel he or she was discriminated against or might have a fall in your store. You may find yourself in a situation were another business believes you violated copyright laws. If you should find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit, don’t panic. Instead, start working through the following steps, remaining calm as you get the help you need to deal with the situation.
The first few steps after you’ve found out that you’re being sued are crucial. You’ll want to act fast and not let the paperwork sit around or, worse yet, ignore it completely. Dealing with a lawsuit is terrifying, so you’ll rest much easier if you take necessary steps right away, which includes hiring a lawyer and getting a strong handle on of all your options.
The first thing to do, once you’ve discovered that your business is being sued, is to get as much information as possible. You need to learn the full story about the lawsuit, including why it’s happening, who is suing you and what the specific situation is. Your reaction to the lawsuit will vary depending on the reasons for the legal action. If it was a customer who injured him or herself in your store, you’ll have a different reaction than if it is another business claiming you’ve broken a contract. Find out the details, remain calm and start compiling all the information, details, proof and paperwork you can find surround the case.
Understand your options
Just because you’re being sued, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to go to court. There are many alternative ways to settle a dispute, and there are many reasons to settle out of court. Just be careful not to try to negotiate a settlement on your own. A negotiation of this sort is something that should be handled by legal counsel, as they are fully trained and know all the legal steps that need to be taken when it comes to settlements.
Hire an attorney
There is so much more to practicing law than the average television program shows. As much as it may seem like you can represent yourself if you are sued, it’s a terrible idea to try and go do it on your own. Mistakes can end up costing you a lot of money, so keep your sanity and hire a professional business attorney. He or she will be able to guide you through the process of negotiations, settlements and if necessary, going to court.
This article was written by Deborah Flomberg of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.