Getting Served with your First Lawsuit

Entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic; if they were fearful, they would never have started a business. Because of their optimism, they tend to believe that every partner, employee, and customer is going to work out well. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Even though it is usually unexpected, getting sued is almost a rite of passage. It is a growth experience for an entrepreneur to learn how to weigh the costs and benefits of litigation decisions, defend the business, and protect it for the future. Should you get served with a lawsuit, here are the first steps to take.

Avoid Contact with the Opposing Party

Even if you feel the urge to write a response to the party who is suing you, don’t do it. Circumventing the attorney can enable a party to undermine your defense, limit your options, obtain evidence, and hurt your case. When people are involved in conflict, they can have difficulty communicating effectively. It can be difficult to avoid taking lawsuits personally. Along with the procedural expertise, this is the benefit of hiring an attorney: to fight your battles for you.

Note How you were Served

The Rules of Procedure require that lawsuits are served in a certain way: by a deputy sheriff, at the principal place of business or other principal address, on an adult. If the summons and complaint documents were not properly served to you, it could be a defense. Write down how you received the documents and any other information that you think may be pertinent. You will want to share these details with your attorney.

Consult your Attorney Quickly

As a business owner, you may already have an attorney providing ongoing counsel. If you do not, now is the time to find one. Act quickly, because the attorney likely has twenty days from the date of service to respond on your behalf. It is important to retain an attorney whose focus is business and commercial litigation like the attorneys at J. Muir & Associates.

When you consult your attorney, be sure to be direct and honest when you and your attorney speak. Provide a timeline of the key events in the relationship that brought about the lawsuit and relevant correspondence. It will also be necessary to consider a legal budget. Defending a lawsuit is likely to cost at least $15,000 in legal expenses alone and your first lawsuit is usually the most costly because you may not have prepared in advance.

Inform your Insurer

You or your attorney should contact your insurance company if you get sued. Many commercial liability insurance policies include coverage for issues that can give rise to a lawsuit, so It is possible that you are covered. Some insurance policies will even cover the legal expenses. Call your insurance provider, inform them of your lawsuit, and discover what sort of protection your insurance offers.

Take it Seriously

Once you retain an attorney to represent you, you know someone is drafting and filing your paperwork and fighting on your behalf. Even so, stay involved. Note deadlines and court dates. Ask questions about the attorney’s strategic choices. An attorney is supposed to serve you and your interests, and educate you on your choices so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your business. You should expect regular reports on the status of your matter, you should receive invoices every month, (if something happened in your lawsuit) and you should review the documents filed in the lawsuit.

With a qualified business attorney by your side, you will be able to confidently move forward with your lawsuit. Whether you are thinking of suing a business or needing defense in Florida, J. Muir & Associates can help. Contact us today to learn what we can do for you! Our skilled attorneys are ready to answer any questions you may have about your Florida business lawsuit.

Written by Jane Muir

Jane Muir