As a business owner, you’re probably intent on having your company succeed. If you started the company, you probably put a lot of work into it. Maybe you’ve put in countless hours to make it successful.
If someone sues your business, you may feel upset about that. Whether you think the lawsuit has justification or not, you must defend your interests.
In this article, we’ll talk about how your company should react if someone sues for personal injury. You should take certain actions but avoid others.
First, you must investigate the claim. You should determine whether you think the claim has any validity or not.
The person suing you will probably look into establishing fault to strengthen damage claims if they can.
They must feel strongly that you’re at fault, though, or else it’s not likely they’d go as far as to pursue legal action.
You might hire a private investigator to look into the claim. You may already have someone on the payroll who can do it.
You must figure out whether you’re liable, though. If you find that the claim has merit, that will impact how you’ll move forward.
Have A Strategy Session
Next, you can call a meeting. You might have all the most important company employees present. If you have a CEO, a CFO, or other individuals in charge, you can gather them all together and talk about your options.
You can explain the situation and what the investigation uncovered. If you determined that the claim probably has merit, you can say that. If you think that it does not, you can explain that as well.
Among the heads of the company, you can figure out your next moves. You should all get on the same page with what you are doing and not doing.
You may also draft a company-wide statement. Your lower-positioned employees should know your official policy.
You might tell your workers they should not talk to the press. You may also tell them any additional information you feel the situation warrants.
Hire A Lawyer
You will probably want to hire a lawyer at this point, if you don’t have one already. Maybe you already have a law firm or attorney on retainer.
Many of the larger companies do, especially ones that have people or other entities suing them relatively often.
It might seem strange to think that your company would have individuals or entities suing it frequently, but it’s more common than you might think.
If you own a huge company, it could happen a lot. If you own or operate a much smaller company, it presumably doesn’t happen as much, if ever.
You can ask the lawyer about what you should do next. If your investigation did not reveal conclusively whether the person or entity suing your company has good reason for doing so, your attorney might investigate instead. Many times, defense lawyers have relationships with investigators already.
Consider Issuing A Press Release
Your lawyer can tell you what they think you should do next. They can probably help you plan out and execute your next moves.
They may tell you that you should issue a press release. If you feel like you’re getting negative press because of the lawsuit, you should probably say something.
Presumably, you won’t admit culpability, but you might say you look forward to clearing the company’s name in court or something to that effect.
Think About Settling Out of Court
Next, you can move to the stage where you’re meeting the person or entity bringing the lawsuit. You probably won’t have any direct contact with them. Instead, your lawyer will meet with their lawyer.
As the company’s owner, maybe you’re at that meeting, or perhaps not. Usually, nothing requires your presence at these pre-trial meetings, at least not from a legal standpoint.
During the trial’s discovery phase, your lawyer can look at the civil case against your company. Personal injury cases have a civil classification, not a criminal one.
It’s possible a personal injury case might also have a criminal element, but if that happens, the police will charge you. If that takes place, it will occur separately.
Your lawyer can look at the materials the plaintiff’s lawyer provides. They may look at evidence that your company harmed the plaintiff.
This individual might have pictures or videos. They may have medical records if they allege that your company hurt them in some way.
They may have a list of individuals who they say saw the injury occur and who they will call to the stand if the trial moves forward.
Often, you’ll see some posturing and grandstanding at this stage. The lawyers will feel each other out and see where the plaintiff stands.
If the evidence seems credible, your lawyer might go back to you and suggest that you settle out of court.
You must decide whether that is the right move. Perhaps you’ll consult with the other high-placed members of your company and see what they think.
If you offer a settlement, the plaintiff might accept it. That way, the trial does not have to move forward.
However, maybe they won’t accept the amount you offer. If not, you will probably have to go to trial.
You might also not want to offer a settlement because you don’t feel the plaintiff can prove you caused their injury or illness. If so, you might go to trial anyway.
What Happens At Trial?
The trial process for a personal injury case always unfolds in more or less the same way. However, you never know how it might turn out.
You could win you case, meaning you won’t give the plaintiff any money. This also positions your company in a positive light since the jury didn’t feel you caused the plaintiff’s injury or illness.
You might lose, though, and have to pay damages. You should consider this possible outcome when determining the best path forward.
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