Maybe you saw it coming, or maybe it caught you completely off guard. In either case, finding out that your business is being sued in Florida is never a pleasant experience. However, what you do (or don’t do) when you get the news can make a huge difference in how things play out. With that in mind, our business lawyers are sharing six steps that you should take if your business is sued in South Florida.
- Read the lawsuit carefully
First, take a deep breath. Take a walk. Go to the gym. Go get a cup of coffee. Do whatever it takes to get your emotions under control. Then, when you feel as if you can do so without succumbing to anger, fear or negativity, read the lawsuit (commonly called a complaint). Be sure to read it very carefully. Read it more than once.
This will give you a good understanding of who is suing your business and why. It will also allow you to identify questions and concerns about the action. More importantly, it will allow you to document any discrepancies or inaccurate information and provide valuable information about any related facts.
- Don’t hesitate to contact your insurance provider (if you have one)
Most businesses carry some form of insurance. If you have it, it’s important to let your insurance provider know about the lawsuit as soon as possible. It’s also important to follow their advice.
Depending on the circumstances, your insurer may either defend you or pay for your defense, based on certain conditions. In either case, it could save you time and money in the long run.
- Take note of applicable deadlines and act accordingly
Although you may be tempted to “file” your copy of the lawsuit in the bottom desk drawer or put it in the “pending” tray, procrastination won’t help. Trust us.
This is because there are strict deadlines for responding to a complaint. In Florida, you have 20 days from the date of service to do so. Failing to meet this deadline can jeopardize your case from the beginning because it allows the plaintiff to request a default judgment.
Furthermore, it’s important to give your attorney enough time to do all of the legwork and gather all of the information needed to respond properly. Depending on the type and extent of the lawsuit, he or she may have to file and/or respond to several court documents prior to the specified deadline. By procrastinating, you are effectively sabotaging your attorney’s ability to do his or her job, and thereby sabotaging your chances for a positive outcome.
- Do not try to handle it on your own, ignore it or respond emotionally
Aside from procrastinating, the worst things you can do are to fly off the handle, ignore the lawsuit or try to handle it on your own.
Staying calm will allow you to assess the situation and work effectively with your attorney. By refraining from confronting the person or company that is suing your business, you will minimize chances of doing or saying something that will jeopardize your case or cause more trouble.
Once it is filed, a lawsuit won’t just “go away.” Ignoring it is a waste of valuable time. And as we’ve already noted, there are serious consequences for missing relevant deadlines. In other words, the sooner you take steps to defend your business, the better.
Finally, by hiring a qualified lawyer to represent you, you will save time, and avoid costly headaches. Remember, an experienced lawyer has the skills and knowledge needed to deal with a lawsuit that you simply do not have.
- Do your homework before hiring a lawyer to defend your business
It is so important for all businesses in Florida to keep an attorney on retainer. One of the chief reasons to do so is so you can have immediate access to a lawyer if you are sued or if you need to initiate legal action.
If your business doesn’t have a lawyer on retainer, it is essential that you do your homework prior to retaining one. Depending on your situation, you should look for a law firm that specializes in business law, litigation, and/or the specific area that could address the type of lawsuit you are facing (such as breach of contract).
The most important thing to keep in mind, however, is that your business cannot represent itself in court. This is because Florida law mandates that attorneys represent all businesses involved in litigation.
6. Find a lawyer that will review the lawsuit and give you a free consultation
Finally, be sure to find a qualified lawyer who is willing to review the lawsuit and discuss your legal options during a free consultation. At Capital Partners Law, we are happy to provide this service for all of our prospective clients who are facing litigation. If your business is being sued or if you have any questions regarding our other services contact us.
What Should You Do Next?
If you are interested in learning more or speaking with an attorney at Capital Partners Law, there are plenty of ways to get in touch:
- Call us toll-free at (833) 7-CAPLAW.
- Find your nearest office and call to schedule a free consultation.
- Complete our New Client Request Form online. (No obligation – an attorney will review your information and contact you to discuss your needs).
- Schedule a Free Initial Phone Consultation online now.
- Schedule a Free Initial Video Consultation online now.
This article is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader nor should it be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact our firm.