You’ve Been Served: Dealing with a Small Business Lawsuit

If your  business has been served with a lawsuit, you probably have questions about how to deal with it. Handling and resolving a business lawsuit is a task best suited for business lawyers. You should seek legal representation as soon as possible after you are served. Your lawyers can help you evaluate the merits of the lawsuit, decide how to respond, and handle further discovery or alternative dispute resolution.

Why Your Business Needs a Lawyer Right Away

Your first step after you have been served should be to contact a lawyer. Getting representation quickly is important because you only have a short time to respond to the lawsuit in court. If you do not respond in a timely manner, you could face having a default judgment entered against you. You also could miss out on the opportunity to submit a substantive response challenging the lawsuit’s allegations. Moreover, you may need advice on how to properly begin an internal investigation to determine the merits of the suit.

At Henke, Williams & Boll, we help small businesses in need of legal advice during litigation. Our lawyers assist business owners who have questions after they get served. We also work on business litigation as it moves forward by responding to lawsuits, conducting discovery, and helping resolve disputes in or out of court.

Next Steps for Businesses After Being Served

Once you retain a business lawyer, your lawyer will review the Plaintiff’s Original Petition. The petition is the main document asserting the allegations made against your business. It describes who is making the claims. It also explains what the factual and legal basis for the claims is. Your lawyer will talk to you about the allegations in the petition. He or she may decide that your business needs to conduct an internal investigation into the claims. Or you may need to locate important documents relating to the claims for your lawyer to review.

Within a short time after you are served with the petition, your lawyer will likely prepare and file a response for you. Typically, the “discovery” phase of the lawsuit begins after you respond. Discovery involves each party to the lawsuit serving formal requests for documents and information on the other party or parties. This could involve turning over documents, preparing written responses, or testifying at a deposition. Your lawyer can explain each part of the discovery process to you as you go. At some point, you may discuss a settlement offer or alternative dispute resolution to wrap up the lawsuit.

Settlements and Alternative Dispute Resolution for Businesses

Many, but not all, lawsuits end in settlement. At some point during your business lawsuit, you may decide to make a settlement offer. Or you may receive a settlement offer from another party. Make sure to carefully discuss the pros and cons of settling with your lawyer. Sometimes, agreeing to settle can save all concerned a great deal of time, trouble, and expense. It may benefit your business to wrap up a lawsuit sooner than later.

Your lawyer or the other parties to the lawsuit might propose using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods at some point. Like settlement negotiations, these methods aim to end lawsuits outside of court. They can be less costly and time-consuming than taking a case to trial. Popular ADR methods include arbitration and mediation. Arbitration uses a neutral arbitrator to hear both sides of a dispute and decide on a resolution in a less formal setting than court. Mediation involves exchanges of information among the parties facilitated by a neutral mediator at a neutral meeting place.

If you cannot resolve your lawsuit via settlement or an ADR method, then you may need to go to trial. Your lawyer can advise you on your next steps in a business litigation case. It’s important to seek and follow legal advice in this type of case, because your business is at stake. Don’t risk negative publicity, financial difficulties, or worse. Talk to a lawyer soon after you are served with a business lawsuit.

We Can Help with Business Litigation

Henke & Williams offers detailed legal advice to business owners facing lawsuits. As experienced Houston business lawyers, we provide litigation clients with tailored, practical advice. Our work takes into account your unique circumstances. Don’t wait to seek out our in-depth legal services. To schedule a consultation, call 713-940-4500 or use our convenient Contact Form.

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