Running a business can be professionally and financially rewarding, but it also involves a certain amount of risk. Millions of lawsuits are filed in U.S. courts each year, and a significant percentage of them involve business disputes. Contract disagreements in particular are a frequent source of liability for companies, accounting for approximately 60% of the civil cases filed every year.
Not all business disputes end up in court, but if you encounter any of these scenarios below, it’s time to call your attorney.
1. The other party refuses to compromise
When a business dispute occurs, the logical first step is to try settling it out of court. For example, a customer is angry because you delivered his order late. You point out that your own supplier had a factory fire that set production back, but the customer doesn’t appear to care and even refuses your offer of a substantial discount. Instead, he demands that you compensate him for the loss of business incurred due to the late arrival of the order. When a disputant refuses to compromise, it’s a sign that they’ll sue to get what they want.
2. They cut off all communication with you
Even if the other person is making unreasonable demands, as long as they answer your calls and emails there is a chance of talking things out and reaching an agreement. When they stop responding but you know that they have not given up, you can be reasonably sure that they’re talking to an attorney instead.
3. They report you to the Better Business Bureau or industry regulator
If the person is disgruntled enough to report you to the Better Business Bureau or a licensing board that governs your profession, they are intent on doing harm to your professional reputation and standing. Their next step in “getting back at you” may be a lawsuit that lacks merit. Frivolous lawsuits cost the U.S. an estimated $200 billion a year, and they occur over almost anything: who can forget the 14-year-old girl who sued her friend for losing her iPod?
4. They tell you they have hired an attorney
“You’re going to hear from my lawyer” is a frequent threat, but it doesn’t always herald a lawsuit. Sometimes they’re trying to intimidate you into giving in and agreeing to their demands. Nonetheless, you should always take such a warning seriously. If they say that they’ve actually retained counsel, contact your own lawyer, because most people won’t pay legal fees unless they’re prepared to use the lawyer’s services.
The best way to avoid a costly and stressful lawsuit is to seek advice from a qualified and experienced attorney. The business litigation team at DeWitt Law can review all documentation related to the dispute, assist you in attempting to negotiate a settlement, and protect your interests if the former vendor or customer files a lawsuit. For more information, please contact DeWitt Law today.