Operating a business exposes its owner’s to many uncertainties, and being sued is one of those risks that create a stressful situation that requires urgent attention. These lawsuits may transpire because of a disgruntled employee, an unhappy customer, a business supplier, an individual claiming he or she was hurt or injured at the business’ location, and a plethora of other potential plaintiffs who can potentially sue your business. Preparing yourself for potential lawsuits and being informed of the proper steps to take will help with resolving the matter promptly, efficiently, and most importantly, economically.
The Demand Letter – Before the Lawsuit
Prior to potential plaintiff filing a lawsuit against your business, you will receive a demand letter. A demand letter has no legal consequence and is not a lawsuit; this letter is a formal notice from an individual or a business, alleging your business wrongdoing, and requesting a corrective action on your behalf, usually by paying a sum of money or by acting on a contractual commitment. Valencia & Torres Law highly recommends that you have an experienced business attorney review any demand letter in order to prepare a response. An attorney can either rebut any allegation or reach a settlement agreement, which will prevent your business from being sued, saving time, attorney fees and court fees.
If any issue listed in the demand letter was not resolved, the initial sender of the demand letter will likely file a formal complaint. This formal complaint may be delivered to your registered agent (click here to read our article on registered agents) by a sheriff officer or a process server, accompanied by a summons, after which, you will have 20 days to respond. Formal complaints have legal consequences and should never be ignored. Once you have been served with the complaint, contact an attorney immediately to review the allegations and prepare a strategic defense.
The sooner you contact an attorney, the more time the hired lawyer will have to build a strategic defense plan that involves learning and gathering information, documentation, and interviewing potential defense witnesses. The defendants honestly with the attorney is paramount, complete honesty will prevent any surprises down the road that will impact the outcome of your case.
Do Not Discuss Your Case
Never discuss your case with anyone other than your defense attorney (unless otherwise advised) once you have been formally sued, especially with the plaintiff who is suing you. Discussing the case with the plaintiff without your lawyers’ advice will greatly impact the result of your case as anything said can be used against you. Therefore, consult with your attorney about information that is permissible to be discussed with third-parties.
Many individuals defend their cases regardless of the expenses, if they are certain that the allegations in a lawsuit are false, however, a positive outcome is never guaranteed. A jury or a judge may not always agree with a defendant’s version of the case. A defendant should always consider settling in order to reduce expenses.