It’s every business owner’s worst nightmare: but sometimes, mistakes happen, misunderstandings happen, and you could end up getting sued. This could be by an ex-employee, an ex-business partner, or even a previous client who claims you did not provide them the correct service. There are all sorts of reasons why businesses get sued, from negligence cases to battles over copyright. But one thing is for sure; no matter what the reason behind the case is, it can be very stressful times for everyone involved. If you have grown your business from the ground up, knowing that it could be taken away from you at the hands of the court can be very scary. Here is typically what will happen when someone has sued you, and how you can keep your head above water throughout the legal dispute.
Examine the lawsuit with an attorney
When the suit papers land on your desk, you will probably experience a sinking feeling of dread, as well as plenty of subsequent confusion. Lawsuit papers are not the easiest things in the world to read, and they certainly aren’t something you can just scan over. They are full of legal jargon, and without an experienced professional on your side, you may not understand them (even after reading through them a couple of times). Find a trusted attorney who can sit down with you and go through the ins and outs of the lawsuit – you will find it much easier to understand when it is being explained to you in person.
Keep hold of all relevant documents/information
The lawsuit is likely to leave no stone unturned, and so, nor should you. If you want to have any chance of winning the case, you will need to preserve all the information you have relating to it – such as notes, documents, files, and emails. This process needs to continue throughout the trial itself too, which is why it can be beneficial to have a certified court reporter on hand. Courtroom trials can be stressful and overwhelming, so you might not always be able to commit all the details of what is said and done to memory. Having official notes saved means you can refer to these as evidence if you need to in the future.
Do not contact the plaintiff
Being tempted to speak to the person who brought the case against you is often a knee-jerk reaction to finding out you have been sued. If you had a long-time relationship or close friendship with the individual, it could be a particularly bitter pill to swallow. You may be angry or upset, and want to confront them about why they have done this to you. However, doing so could severely put the entire court case at risk, especially if you end up saying or doing something you shouldn’t in the heat of the moment. From the minute the suit arrives on your desk, all communication between you and the plaintiff should be done between your attorneys.
If you need to let off some steam, rant to a trusted friend (sparing legal details of course) or go and have a heavy session down at the gym. Remember, you want to win the case, so don’t take any unnecessary risks.