Owning a business always comes with risk—and one of these is finding yourself one day involved in some form of litigation. While it’s always ideal to avoid any sort of legal dispute, it’s important to understand how to protect yourself when your company faces the threat of legal action.
What Is Business Litigation?
When a dispute cannot be resolved through traditional means of communication, it is taken to court. Business litigation can involve conflicts with current and former employees, as well as clients, customers, suppliers, and competitors.
To add additional stress, all lawsuits are a matter of public record—which can cause a public relations disaster for your company. Since your reputation is your most valuable asset, do your best to protect it by recognizing what types of risks are out there.
Common types of business litigation include:
- Breaches of contract, including failure to perform contractual obligations
- Real estate disputes, including failure to disclose important physical defects
- Employment disputes involving discrimination, wrongful termination, or violations of agreements
- Disputes regarding theft or misuse of property
- Disputes between partners or shareholders
Why You Should Prepare for Litigation
With every customer added and every professional connection made, you are opening yourself up to a higher likelihood of getting involved in litigation. The upside of a successful business is increased income—and the downside is the increase of having a negative interaction, whether you’re the one being sued or find yourself needing to litigate against someone else.
By having an attorney on deck prior to any tangible issues on the horizon, you can rest easy knowing you have a knowledgeable professional on your side to reach out to the moment you need such assistance. Unfortunately, most business owners tend to take a “wait-and-see” approach to many facets of their business operations, including their access to legal representation. If something does happen and your business is unprepared, you might be forced to make difficult and potentially detrimental decisions on your own.
How Business Litigation Works in Virginia
Every case is unique, but there is a specific process that business litigation proceedings go through in the state of Virginia.
First, a formal complaint is filed. This details the reason for the lawsuit and names the parties/causes of action. A defendant will be asked to file a written response, as well as being given the opportunity to countersue.
After the formal complaints are filed, the next stage is known as the discovery phase. This is when the attorneys for both parties will gather information to build an effective case. This includes subpoenas, interrogatories, and depositions. All of these words can seem scary, which is again why it’s important to have an attorney you can trust through this process. A litigation lawyer in Virginia might opt to try to negotiate a settlement on behalf of their client if during the discovery phase it becomes clear the case would be difficult to win. This also avoids the tremendous amount of time and money involved in a formal trial.
If a settlement isn’t reached by the time discovery is complete, the case will go to trial. The judge then gets the final word.
Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant, you can expect to spend a decent amount of time and money handling disputes involving business litigation. Working with an attorney can help you determine if it might be wise to seek out other means such as professional mediation to shorten the process and hopefully come to some sort of resolution.
Do You Need To Speak With An Experienced Business Attorney?