Entrepreneurs are taken aback the first time someone – a customer, a contractor, an employee — files a lawsuit against them.
Up until that point they imagined their attention to quality, or their friendly manner, would prevent things from getting legal.
Fear of litigation
Smaller companies, especially, are surprised. Without having the actual experience, they know that bad things – business-destroying things — can happen with a lawsuit.
The message we have to first-timers is, first of all, to be calm. There is a temptation to call the other party, or barge into their office, and explain why the claim being made is ridiculous.
Don’t do that. If you have been served, remind yourself that you have not lost. Many times a lawsuit is just a way to jangle your cage – to scare you into paying up. If you go to court, the claimant will have a case to prove, and you will get your chance to defend.
The problem of emotion
Emotion can be very destructive to problem solving. If you must speak to the other party, wait until you are calm. It is best not to admit outright fault in any way. But it’s OK to apologize for the bad experience, or misunderstanding. Very often, the right attitude will prevent the case from going to court.
Emotion is even more out of place in the courtroom. It is very difficult. Your business and livelihood may hang in the balance. You may be unable to sleep at night. But it is important to stay cool and rational.
Legal matters are just a part of doing business today. Work with an attorney experienced in this kind of case. With knowledgeable counsel, decent documentation and a steady hand, you will get through this.