My business was sued. What do I do?
Don’t panic! Businesses get sued every day, and most businesses will get sued at some point for one reason or another – contract issues with vendors, billing disputes with customers, pay and benefits issues with employees, etc. Your business is not the first to be sued, nor will it be the last.
If you get sued, here are a few tips for how to proceed:
1. Read the complaint or petition served. Figure out why you are being sued, who is suing, and what the plaintiff wants from your business.
2. Gather all documents you have related to the dispute. DO NOT THROW AWAY OR DESTROY ANY RECORDS. If you destroy any records related to the dispute, you could subject you or the business to a claim for spoliation of evidence, which could be catastrophic to your ability to defend the lawsuit. Similarly, if you have e-mails related to the dispute, make sure they do not get deleted.
3. Contact an attorney with experience in business litigation to see if he or she can take your case. Retain an attorney quickly. In most instances, you will have less than three weeks to respond to the lawsuit, and your attorney will need time to prepare a response to the plaintiff’s claims. Also, note that corporations and limited liability companies usually cannot appear in court without an attorney. As a result, you will probably not be able to respond to the lawsuit without an attorney.
4. Remain calm. This process is frustrating, and you should not let emotions take over. Don’t succumb to temptation to contact the plaintiff. Let your attorney, with greater experience and objectivity, make recommendations on how to proceed. Don’t ignore the lawsuit, either. Unfortunately, it will cost money to defend the lawsuit, but ignoring the suit and defaulting could cost even more.