What to Do When Your Company Gets Sued
For most people a civil lawsuit is a rare occurrence. Maybe they will need to go through a divorce, or deal with a personal injury lawsuit that will bring them into court a few times over the course of their lives. The same cannot be said for companies. In fact, a study performed by the Klemm Analysis Group found that small businesses were far more likely to be sued than individuals. This means that small business owners should be prepared for the day that a business lawsuit lands on their doorstep.
The first thing to do is to stay calm. Lawsuits can be stressful or frightening to people who are not used to dealing with them, but they are a part of the business world that can be dealt with just like any other business challenge. In practical terms, staying calm means a few things.
First, the person being sued should read the complaint to see why they are being sued. Importantly, the complaint is not a binding document. It is just the plaintiff’s side of the story that the defendant will have an opportunity to dispute. Second, business owners should not reach out to the person suing them or their attorney. There will be time for that later. Hasty responses, especially emotional ones, can do more harm than good. Third, business owners should not talk to others about the lawsuit. Discussing it with employees or friends may create issues later. The one exception to this is that all of the business owners should come together to discuss the suit and formulate a plan.
Get The Records Together
Once the owner figures out what the lawsuit is about, their next step should be gathering records related to the lawsuit. Records can be any number of different things, and exactly what is important will likely depend on the type of case. In a lawsuit relating to a potential breach of contract, the contract itself would be important to have, along with other documents like past emails with the other party, purchase orders, or invoices. A lawsuit from a former employee may necessitate a different set of documents such as company policies and personnel files.
Talk to Lawyers
After making a first pass at gathering records, a business owner should talk to some lawyers to get a better picture of their options for responding to the suit. This may involve some comparison shopping to learn things like price point, fee structure, and litigation style. There is not necessarily any right thing to be looking for at this stage beyond experience, affordability, and a good fit. Some lawyers are aggressive and willing to take cases to trial often. Others are more comfortable pushing for settlements that can allow everyone to walk away feeling comfortable with the resolution. Different styles work better for different situations and different clients.
Getting sued is never a pleasant experience, but finding the right lawyer can make it much easier. If you company is facing a lawsuit and you want to learn more about your options, contact a West Palm Beach business litigation attorney at Pike & Lustig, LLP today.