American courts are kept busy all year round with numerous lawsuits against businesses - over 100 million per year, to be precise. Brands come under attack from the public and other brands for reasons such as unfair treatment, false advertising, copyright infringement, and failing to be accessible to everyone. Bigger brands with a bigger budget might feel like a lawsuit is as simple as hiring an attorney and paying the fees. Smaller brands, however, suffer at the hands of American courts and can often lead to the cessation of the business altogether.
Going through the process of a lawsuit can be stressful. Below, we've outlined what to expect if your brand receives a lawsuit in the post.
Hiring A Business Attorney
A business attorney is essential - especially for small brands with little experience in the American justice system, especially when it comes to company lawsuits. Aside from the complainant making it known they intend to file a lawsuit, brands might not be aware anything is happening until they receive a Summons and Complaint through the post. That should briefly outline the reasoning behind the lawsuit and the intended proceedings. Upon receiving this, hire a business attorney.
A professional business attorney takes over the communication between both parties, ensuring your business moves through the lawsuit as seamlessly as possible and with the best outcome.
Next on the list of things to do is carry out an internal investigation. More often than not, brands won't realize that there is any wrongdoing within the company. For example, some brands have been hit hard with accessibility lawsuits. Fear not - brands like accessiBe can help with lawsuits by making websites more accessible. That type of lawsuit occurs if a business fails to make a website accessible for those with disabilities.
On the other end of the spectrum, drug manufacturer Vitaris - a manufacturer of EpiPens - had to pay a $264 million lawsuit because they prevented other brands from entering the market. An accessibility issue is, more often than not, not malicious. But sometimes, brands land themselves in hot waters by purposely bending the rules to suit the needs of their business. That's what internal investigations can help unearth.
The Court Proceedings
The court proceedings can either be short and sweet or long and painful - business attorneys will help guide your business through, helping find the best solutions. Most summons state that a company must respond within 20 to 23 days, giving brands enough time to complete the initial internal investigations. By law, anyone must have some form of representation in a court - although some will make exceptions for lawsuits that amount to less than $1500. For company lawsuits, it's essential to have an attorney that mediates the process.
Your attorney will create your defense based on the evidence you provide from your business - the complainant and their attorney will do the same. Small lawsuits are typically resolved in a small county court within a day. More serious offenses can take weeks, even months, before the final decision.
Most businesses will go many years without a whisper of a lawsuit. Those that do receive one through the post might feel as though they're stressful, time-consuming, and financially damaging. With the best guidance from a registered attorney, the process can feel a little less daunting. There's plenty more information online about what to do if your business comes under fire.