The stakes of running a small business in Florida are high, and as a business owner, you carry much of the responsibility in terms of limiting risk and keeping your business operational no matter what comes your way.
One thing you never want to come your way – but very well could, especially if you aren’t prepared – is a lawsuit. If you are faced with a lawsuit, there are some important steps you can take to protect your business. Lawsuits, even pending lawsuits, can damage your personal and business reputation and be expensive, time-consuming, and mentally exhausting. If you find yourself in this difficult position, here are some important first-steps to take.
Step 1: Contact a commercial attorney right away.
If you’ve been sued, immediately get in touch with an attorney who is experienced in Florida commercial law and review your case with them. While you may feel tempted to try to talk to the plaintiff directly, this move is not advisable as anything you say may be used against you in court. If a lawsuit has been filed, any communication should now be solely exchanged between attorneys.
Step 2: Notify your insurance provider
Review your business insurance policy to understand your coverage. Many policies will cover businesses in the event of a lawsuit, but do not assume this is the case. Do your homework, ask questions of your insurance company, and if you’ve determined that your specific case will be covered by your policy, formally notify your provider of the complaint.
Step 3: Plan your response (with your attorney’s help)
The clock starts ticking the minute you’ve been served with a lawsuit, and you must respond with a written response by the deadline. In Florida, pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.140, you have 20 days to submit your response. Sit down with your commercial lawyer immediately to discuss your options in regards to your case. Failure to respond within the given timeframe could result in an automatic default on the case, so it’s imperative that you take smart action right away.
Your lawyer will advise you on these and other important steps to take if faced with a small business lawsuit. Throughout the process, be honest and upfront with your attorney and be sure to keep detailed and accurate records – save everything!
While facing a lawsuit is a daunting prospect for any small business, with the help of a skilled commercial attorney, you will be able to achieve the best outcome for your situation. For legal questions regarding your Florida business, get in touch with our commercial law team at Silverberg|Brito, PLLC.