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No one likes to be sued, especially a small business. Thoughts of bad publicity and lost sales already keep entrepreneurs up at night, let alone when they have civil liability attached. But in this day and age, getting sued may be inevitable. So it's dealing with a lawsuit that becomes important.
Obviously, your first steps after your business is sued are crucial, so make sure you make them count.
Get All the Info
Your response to a lawsuit will depend on a few factors. First of all, who is suing you? Was it a customer who slipped and fell in your store? Or an employee who feels she's been discriminated against? Or another business that claims you breached a contract?
Every lawsuit is unique and may require a unique response. But first you need to comprehend where the suit is coming from, and confirm that the person or entity suing you has complied with all of the legal filing and service requirements. You should also confirm whether your conflict is subject to a binding arbitration clause.
Get a Handle on Your Options
Just because you've been served with a civil complaint doesn't mean you head straight to trial, or even that a trial is inevitable. There are alternative means of dispute resolution that remain available, and you can always settle out of court.
Be careful, though. Trying to negotiate a settlement on your own is tricky business. And you have to be careful with the kind of agreements and admissions you make out of court. You may want legal counsel to negotiate on your behalf.
How you respond to a lawsuit isn't just about winning an argument -- responding late or incorrectly could forfeit your opportunity to even make an argument later. What you should do when your business has been sued is contact an experienced business attorney near you, who can tell you how to properly respond to the lawsuit.
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