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My Business has Been Sued! What Should I do?

You never thought it could happen to your business, but your business is being sued. What should you do? That is the question many business owners have to face.

We live and work in a hostile environment and business owners face many complex and difficult issues in the course of their business activity. Unfortunately, a business can be sued for any number of reasons:

  • Current or former employees can sue for unpaid wages, overtime, discrimination, and a host of other reasons.
  • Vendors can sue for unpaid invoices.
  • Competitors can sue for trademark violations.
  • Your business partners sue you for breach of contract or broken promises.
  • The list is endless … but that is the world we live in.

First - Don’t panic and don’t get (too) upset! It’s a part of doing business. After the initial reaction of being upset and angry about the suit, it’s important to remain calm so as to protect your business in every way possible. Accept the fact that a lawsuit will likely cost your company a lot of money. The key here is to do what can be done to minimize the risk to your business and protect your business. But, whatever you do, DO NOT IGNORE THE LAWSUIT!

Second – Contact your insurance company and agent immediately. You might be surprised to see how many disputes are covered by your insurance coverage. If there is coverage, your legal fees will be covered by the insurance company. But, it is important to give the insurance company prompt notice of the lawsuit.

Third - Review the allegations in the Complaint carefully and consult with an experienced lawyer immediately.

Fourth – Take immediate steps to protect all of the information that relates to the lawsuit. This includes computer files, telephone records, texts, web pages, photos, videos and voice mail messages. This is very important in the digital world we live in. If necessary, take immediate pictures of the location or other important areas – and make sure that you include the when the pictures were taken.

Fifth – Do not contact the other party or their lawyer. Anything you say can and will be used against you! If you feel that communication is necessary, it should only be done thru your lawyer. If the suit involves people you must communicate with, tell them that you will not discuss the lawsuit with them.

Sixth – Act promptly in deciding how to proceed and respond to the complaint. The suit usually has a deadline to file a written response. Usually it is 30 days after the summons was served. If you don’t adhere to the deadline, a default may be entered against you and you won’t have a chance to defend the case.

Seventh - Consult with your lawyer – an attorney experienced in this field of litigation – to outline a plan to defend the suit or possible ways to resolve the case without litigation, including possible counterclaims. It is extremely important to get a full understanding of the claims, the potential liability you are facing and the threats to your business and an experienced business litigation lawyer may be the best defense you have to the suit. Don’t hide anything from the lawyer – there is an excellent chance that along the way those facts will come out.

Eighth – Find and consult with an experienced business litigation lawyer and law firm. Find out if the lawyer has the resources (staff) and associates to handle your case and if they have experience with your type of case. You should discuss the plan is for the defending the suit and a budget for the suit as well as possible counterclaims. The collection of information of the case is important, and the more you can do to organize the facts, records and emails, the easier it will be for the lawyer to gain a quick grasp of the problem. Check out the reviews of the lawyer/fir – the best example of experience is what the lawyer’s prior clients have said about the lawyer.

A good client/lawyer relationship requires a large degree of trust on both sides of the relationship. A client needs to feed confident that the lawyer will handle the case professionally, appropriately and as economically as possible. A lawyer needs to know that what the client has told them are true and accurate.

The lawyers at Bellas & Wachowski are well known as experienced Chicago business litigation lawyers. They have the experience, reputation and dedication to protecting their client’s interests. Contact senior partner George Bellas (847-823-9032) (george@bellas-wachowski.com) for a consultation to help you deal with difficult situations.