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10 Tips to Keep Your Mesa Business Out of Court
When you run a business, you are susceptible to lawsuits, whether you run a small corner shop or a multinational corporation. Working with a seasoned Mesa business lawyer will help you stay aware of your legal rights and obligations so that you can make the right decisions to minimize your liability. Yet sometimes, even with the best intentions and the best planning, you can still wind up in court.
You’ll never reduce your liability to zero, but there are a lot of things you can do to avoid litigation. Here are 10 tips for keeping your Mesa business out of court:
1. Get Everything in Writing
A verbal agreement is not enough to keep everyone in line. If a vendor doesn’t deliver on time and you refuse to pay, you could get sued for what you owe. Unless you have a written contract showing the order and the delivery date, the court may rule against you. Your word won’t be enough to prove you had the agreement.
Sometimes, issues arise because there is basic miscommunication or a misunderstanding about the agreement. Other times, people willfully disregard the terms of the agreement. The only way to be sure that everyone is one the same page and that you have a solid basis for a legal recourse if things don’t go as planned is to get a written contract or agreement.
2. Implement Shareholders or Partners Agreements
Unless you run the business as a single owner, chances are good that you have some kind of shareholder or partner arrangement in place, even if it is just with your business associates. Shareholders and partners or members of companies have rights in Mesa, Arizona, and having a written shareholder agreement, bylaws or an operating agreement in place is the safest way for all business associates to know what each of them is getting into.
These agreements can be customized to include clauses that are important to you and/or your partners and give you the right of first refusal to keep out new partners or to sell the business. They can include set buy-out prices for shareholders or members and what power or amount of control the other partners or associates have in the business. A good Mesa business attorney can help you draft the agreement that is right for you and your business to help you preserve your vision of the company.
3. Trademark Your Name
Just because you do business under a certain name does not mean that someone else cannot come along and do business under the same name. Just showing that you were there first and that you have incorporated will not be enough to protect you against someone who want to use your business name.
The best way to protect yourself is to trademark your name as soon as possible. This will help you protect your reputation and stay out of court.
4. Adhere to Employment Laws
Lawsuits from employees are among the most common that businesses face. You can be sued for violating wage laws, for failing to give your employees the correct amount of time off, for failing to provide a safe environment, for allowing discrimination to occur, and much more.
5. Make Realistic Promises
Don’t tell people that your product is 100 percent guaranteed to work unless it actually is. Don’t tell people that they will lose 100 pounds in three weeks on your product unless they actually will. Don’t promise to have a huge job done in two days unless you actually will.
Failing to deliver on anything you say can get you into a lot of trouble because of your breach of contract. Remember that a contract does not have to be in writing. It is better to underestimate what you can do and delight the client when you overdeliver than to over promise and risk getting sued when you don’t deliver.
6. Act Quickly
Lawsuits don’t usually come out of nowhere. You usually have some sign that trouble is brewing. Many businesses make the mistake of ignoring the problem or believing that it won’t become a big deal and not taking care of it properly.
You can head off a lot of lawsuits by acting quickly to resolve problems the moment you are aware of them. It is better and much cheaper to be proactive and use mediation or settlement options than to end up in court..
7. Provide Annual Training
If your business is in a field which has safety regulations, you will want to provide regular training to your employees to ensure they know and follow the most current safety regulations in order to minimize your liability in the event you get sued for an accident. Your employees will also need training to ensure they don’t engage in any discriminatory or harassing behavior in the workplace. You should provide training at least once a year, if not more, to make sure employees are all on the same page about what is acceptable and what is not at work.
8. Be Willing to Settle
Everyone makes mistakes eventually, and some of yours might lead to a lawsuit. That doesn’t mean you have to end up in court and spend a fortune on legal fees. Knowing when to settle can help you save a lot of time and money. You’ll stay out of the courtroom, and you’ll put the case behind you quickly.
9. Don’t Let Emotions Rule You
Finding out that you’re getting sued can make you outraged. You might feel humiliated. You might feel indignant and angry. You might even feel scared. Becoming emotional will only cause you to make bad choices when deciding how to respond to the suit. You need to keep your wits about you and work with a Arizona business lawyer who can tackle the problem rationally and effectively.
10. Keep a Business Lawyer on Retainer
You are not a legal expert, so you need one who can counsel you on how the laws apply to your business and what you can do to stay out of hot water. Keep a business lawyer on retainer who can review contracts, make recommendations on employee policies, and provide legal guidance.
Following these tips will help you avoid lawsuits and protect your business in the long term. Always work with a business & corporate law lawyer who can guide you on matters specific to your operations.
Denton Peterson, PC helps businesses of all types in Mesa and throughout Arizona. A business law attorney from our team can help if you have been served with a lawsuit or can be a regular advisor to help you try to avoid lawsuits. Contact us today to discuss your concerns and learn more about how we can help you.
1930 N. Arboleda, Suite 200
Mesa, AZ 85213
GDP Business Blog
Mesa, AZ 85213