Should I Hire A Business Law Attorney As Early As Possible When Facing A Lawsuit?
Trying to navigate a lawsuit on your own in order to save money is not a good business practice. There are significant ramifications in trying to resolve a case without the guidance of an experienced attorney. Court documents will advise you to contact a lawyer but many people attempt to handle it themselves. It’s nearly impossible because they don’t have the legal training to go through the process from start to finish. Normally, they end up in trouble. They say cases on won on technicalities. You must follow the Court procedures. You cannot know what to do and you’re more likely to make your case worse by trying to Google the answer. When you do not file Court procedures your response may not be seen by the Judge and a case you were correct you end of losing.
If you have a corporation or an LLC, you’re not even allowed to defend yourself. There are many reasons why using an attorney is better. It may cost you more money at the end of the day, but you’re going to end up with a better result because you’re not going to make major mistakes. Some people are unaware that attorneys charge for their time. Most cases aren’t contingency cases. If you do not follow civil procedure even a winnable case is not presented and the judge can’t rule in your favor.
To begin a lawsuit the Plaintiff drafts a complaint in a specific procedural format, a Summons and forms specific to the Court where the case is filed. Each Defendant in the lawsuit must be served with the Summons, Complaint and forms specific to the Court where the lawsuit is filed. Service can refer to personal service. This is where someone actually hands you the Summons, Complaint, and documents specific to the where your case will be heard by the Judge. There are other ways to be served with a lawsuit. If the defendant is a corporation, LLC or other legal entity the defendant will have a registered agent, an individual, to accept service of process. Substituted service generally applies where personal service was attempted a minimum of three (3) times-referred to as due diligence. This can include leaving with the receptionist at an office, mailing certified mail return receipt, leaving with a guard in a gated community in California. There are other methods of service. Once you receive the lawsuit there are options. You can attack the lawsuit to try to get rid of it. In California State Court the most common way is a demurrer. A demurrer is a motion filed with the Court. A demurrer presumes everything in the lawsuit is accurate. It doesn’t matter at this stage of litigation if they are wrong or cannot prove their claims. A demurrer considers everything to be true to determine if the case proceeds. In California, you must meet and confer with the attorney or party who drafted the lawsuit prior to filing a demurrer. You must contact the Court and either reserve the hearing date for the demurrer or in some cases call the Court. It depends on which Court is hearing the case and the Judge’s rules or local rules of the Court. It’s a rarity that a lawsuit is going to be dismissed on its own unless it’s based on a statute of limitations or other reason that cannot be fixed. There are many other possibilities at the early stage and sometimes filing an Answer is the best option. The Answer as a specialized format and must comply with Civil Procedure. Do not think you write an essay and you’ve responded. Don’t forget that an Answer or demurrer requires the first appearance filing fee be paid. In CA the filing fee is $450.00 and rising.
Many cases can settle early on. A lot depends on the risk factors. What’s at risk? Are you being sued personally? Are your personal assets at risk? Those factors can determine whether or not you’re going to want to try to get rid of the case early on or keep it going. Is there a principle involved? Once you’ve been through a lawsuit, you have a much better understanding of what’s going to happen.
If you haven’t been through a lawsuit, it’s a good idea to understand what that process is and an attorney can at least explain to you the timeline, how it works, and what the process is. You should also assess your responsibility for the lawsuit early on because you don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars going all the way to a trial when you know you’re liable. Every situation is different but unless you have an attorney who can give you your options, you are likely to make a mistake.
No attorney can give you all of your options at the initial stages. The attorney still doesn’t know what facts the other side has or what facts you have that you may not have told them about yet. An attorney who specializes in that particular area of law will still able to advise you in a general manner to get you started. Peter Bronstein focusses his practice on business litigation cases which include franchise disputes, partnership disputes, shareholder disputes, and breach of contract, investor disputes, fraud, trade secrets, investment loss recovery, non-compete agreements, and others.
Why Are Businesses Sued?
Businesses can be sued for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes, there is the shakedown. You’ve got a successful business and people just want to make money, so they look for anything that’s not done by the book. We’re humans, so we do make mistakes occasionally, and they may find something. The typical reason a business is sued is because it entered into an agreement and now one party is not performing. The other party wants to force that party to perform. There are times when people are working for a company and as they’re working for the company, they’re starting a side business doing the same thing that this company does. Sometimes you invest money in a business venture that sounded great but wasn’t. Sometimes you purchase a franchise only to discover it’s not what you expected.
While you can have your own business that competes with your boss after you leave, you can’t have the same business as your boss while you’re working there. This falls into the category of what’s called trade secrets. Then, there can be copyright and trademark infringement lawsuits, where someone could be suing you, saying that they own that trademark or that copyright. It’s very important to understand as quickly as possible what the real facts are because this can affect the cost, the potential damages, and whether or not this is a case you want to defend or pursue.
I’ve been involved in a lot of franchise litigation cases. People sue each other in franchise situations all the time because they’re spending large amounts of money to open up a business and the franchisor is spending millions of dollars trying to support those franchisees. Anything that involves business, we have defended. As soon as you get sued, you have a very short timeframe to respond. Typically, you’ll have 30 days. If you get served on a Friday, by Monday, you’ve already got three days in. Now, you have 27 days.
People who have never been sued before think it’s not a big deal, but it is. You have to get on it right away. If you do not have a business attorney, you need to find one, and it may take you a week or two to find the right attorney. There are a lot of different issues that have to come up and the attorney has to have time to understand what the facts are. In reality, 30 days is a very short period of time and it can be even less, if you’re involved in a federal lawsuit.
For more information on Hiring an Attorney for a Business Lawsuit, a personalized case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (310) 935-1128 today.
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