It’s something that no Grand Rapids small business owner wants to see. It’s something that some West Michigan businesses avoid at all costs. It’s the dreaded lawsuit. The cost of litigation terrifies many business owners. The potential damages and the cost of representation can really have a big impact on your cash flow. Whether you are put in a position that you need to sue another business or an individual or your business is being sued, there are some basic tips you should follow.
First and foremost if your business has been sued do not procrastinate or hesitate to contact an attorney. There are time restrictions that require you to respond to the complaint in a certain number of days. If you fail to respond in that time you will be defaulted and without a good reason for failing to respond, you are basically admitting to liability in the eyes of the court.
The same can be said if you believe that you have been harmed by someone or another business. Time is of the essence because there are statutes of limitations that require you to bring your lawsuit in a certain time period. There are even some claims that require you to give notice to a potential defendant before filing your complaint. Also, the longer you wait the more difficult it is for your attorney to locate the evidence and witness he or she will need to protect your interests.
This leads to our next point: hire a business lawyer that has experience with litigation. Litigation is complex and trying to represent yourself is extremely difficult. Also, you are not permitted to represent your business in a court of law. There are lots of lawyers that have trial experience in other areas that might not have experience with business issues. On the other hand, there are attorney’s that have experience with business issues but they do not have litigation experience. Finding an attorney that fits both roles is essential.
Another important aspect, if your business is sued or if you believe you need sue someone or another business, is to be brutally honest with your attorney. Provide your attorney with all the information you can think of and all of the evidence you have regardless if that information helps your case or hurts it. You are protected by the attorney-client privilege so your lawyer will not disclose any of that information that is not relevant to your case.
Also, any litigation attorney will tell you that it’s not the facts they know about that will hurt their case; it’s what they don’t know about. If your attorney knows about a fact that will hurt the case they can strategize around that fact. But if they do not know about it, then they will likely be surprised and cannot control when or how that fact that hurts your case comes out.
Litigation can be avoided. Relying on contracts that protect your small business and following sound business practices that a business attorney advises you on can prevent a lot of potential disputes. These are not going to guarantee that some type of litigation will ever creep up but they can go a long way. If you do run into a dispute be sure to follow these basic tips.
To find out more about business litigation or other tips for entrepreneurs or startups, contact us here today.