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Critical first steps when your company gets sued

You published a comprehensive employee handbook, held regular training meetings and drafted a solid customer contract. Nevertheless, you are facing what any business owner dreads: a lawsuit. Whether the person who filed the complaint is a partner, client or employee, you have a lot to deal with and a lot at stake.

When a business faces a lawsuit, the outcome can affect more than the bottom line. Your Florida company's reputation is also in peril, so the way you handle the process is critical. This is why your choice of legal counsel is important. A skillful and thorough attorney can offer creative options for an effective resolution to your case.

Proactive defense

Once you receive your copy of the lawsuit documents, your first step is to contact your attorney for a complete review of the papers to ensure every detail is in order. Sometimes a case can hinge on the smallest clerical error in a legal document.

Your attorney will likely instruct you to take specific actions to minimize any potential damage to your case, for example:

  • Cease any routine data destruction, including deleting emails and voicemail messages.
  • Make no attempt to communicate with the plaintiff except through your lawyer.
  • Contact your business insurance company to see if your policy covers the lawsuit.
  • Be honest in providing your attorney with all the facts regarding the case.
  • Work in cooperation with your law firm by returning messages promptly, meeting deadlines and following instructions.

You and your attorney will discuss the best way to respond to the lawsuit. You may choose to mediate a settlement with the plaintiff or fight the allegations in court. Counter-suing your opponent may also be an option, depending on the circumstances. Your attorney will give you a frank appraisal of your chances of success with litigation. You can ask your counselor to explain his or her strategy for defending you in court.

Throughout the process, it will be important for you to keep your eye on the long-term success of your business. Your professional and dignified behavior, even in the face of egregious allegations, can go a long way in preserving the reputation of your company. When you reach a resolution of your case, you may find it beneficial to review your company policies and contracts to limit the possibility of similar lawsuits in the future.

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Barker Cook

501 East Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 1040
Tampa, FL 33602

Phone: 813-489-1001
Fax: 813-489-1008
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