Just envision, it’s a regular day on the job until suddenly, a constable approaches you and mutters four words, “you have been served.” Just like that, your day has taken a 180, and officially YOU HAVE BEEN SUED. The feeling of dread and uncertainty starts to course through your body. What the hell are you going to do now?
First, don’t panic; someone can sue anyone for anything, and it does not mean that they are right or will win. Second, don’t put your head in the sand either and take the “ostrich approach.” The issue will not go away by ignoring it or not dealing with it. If you take this approach, it will seem like you made the right decision at the moment because nothing seems to be happening.
But, in reality, if you do not file a written answer with the District Clerk within the amount specified in your letter, whoever sued you can take a default judgment against you, your construction company, or both in the courtroom. The scary truth is there are extreme ramifications for not handling the issue immediately. The rule in civil court is that if you don’t answer the lawsuit, whoever sued you wins by default. Taking this approach and not dealing with the issue head-on could result in your bank account being garnished by the person that sued you, who got a judgment because you never dealt with it. It is up to you to make the right move.
The first step after you’ve been sued: Do not keep it at the bottom of your to-do pile: take action and take action fast!
What’s the next step when you get sued? Hire an attorney!
The next step is to reach out to your trusted legal counsel and employ an attorney. Of the many benefits of having trusted legal counsel on hand to help you with your day-to-day operations, whether that is creating the right contract for your business, reviewing contracts, or helping with collections, is that when you get sued, all you have to do is pick up the phone and ask for help.
Got Sued? You Must Act Quickly
You must take action fast if you’ve been sued—if you don’t respond, you automatically lose the lawsuit.
We have a team ready to take your call to help protect your construction business and educate you on the front-end!
If you don’t have trusted legal counsel, it’s imperative you find someone. But what do you look for in legal counsel to find the right fit for you and your company? Start with their website. Does it look like they are familiar with representing your kind of business? A lawyer can be a jack of all trades, but usually, someone like that will be mediocre at everything. You want to find an attorney that is familiar with your industry and your type of business. An attorney that does your will or your divorce, for example, is not the one you want defending you when you have been sued on a construction project.
Once you have your trusted legal counsel in place, what happens next? The next step is to give them the papers you were served with and tell them your side of the story. Once your attorney has this information, they should lay out all your options, including the risk and rewards of each. Based on this information, you can decide the best course of action for your company. It could be offering a settlement, answering the lawsuit, and going to mediation to try and settle the dispute, or it could be starting the discovery process for full-on litigation. These are just some of the options you should be considering.
How much does it cost when you get sued?
That is always one of the first questions we get when one of our clients has been sued. The honest answer is, it’s hard to say what the final number will be. We can give you rough estimates, but we do not have control over much of the process. For instance, we can’t control the number of things the other side will send us that we have to respond to, how long the court process will take, or how many hearings we will have to attend. We don’t have a crystal ball with all the answers when we first start the litigation process, but one thing is for sure: litigation costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time.
Our objective is to get our clients out of these situations by spending the least of these two precious resources. Sometimes this means swallowing your pride and offering the other side money to end the uncertainty and unknown outcome of litigation. This is the real conversation you need to have with your attorney before you decide on what to do when you’ve been sued.
How to protect yourself against getting sued
Getting sued isn’t something to take lightly, and you need to be prepared on the front-end to avoid serious consequences. There are so many things that you must be aware of to best protect yourself and your business. Call our licensed construction attorneys today, and we can help you set up a proactive plan to avoid litigation and guide you on what you’re up against should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being sued. Having a trusted legal counselor at law will be the difference in making or breaking your construction company. We are here to guide you through every season and help you build a better business.