Litigation addiction in the United States costs small businesses more than $100 billion each year. It’s not a matter of if it will happen to your business, but when. Seek legal advice now rather than later and get your liability protection nailed down.
Although the specifics of your business determine the types of litigation you may face, business lawsuits generally fall into one of three categories: You may be sued by another business, by one of your customers or by an employee.
Let’s take a closer look at the most common grievances and why they might be leveraged.
1. Breach of contract
This means you failed to carry out the terms of a contract. This can take many forms – failing to deliver goods, failing to pay for goods after you received them, delivering damaged or incorrect goods, revealing a trade secret, etc.
You may be sued by another business, typically for breach of contract, says Israel Piedra, a civil litigation attorney at Welts, White & Fontaine. Customers and employees can also introduce litigation over breach of a contract.
2. Slip-and-fall accidents
The name says it all. Someone slips, possibly on a wet surface, and tumbles or nosedives to the ground. These accidents can lead to serious injuries, says Tina Willis, a personal injury attorney and owner of Tina Willis Law. The costs if you lose can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Willis.
3. Premises liability
Negligent security means the business had insufficient protection. Protection can include locks, guards, trimmed bushes, lights and security cameras, according to Willis. These lawsuits come into play when someone is seriously injured or killed, usually by a third party, at a business location.
4. Auto accidents
When one of your employees causes an accident while driving a company vehicle, your business can be held liable. Willis notes that if the business has enough commercial auto insurance, the claim will most likely be handled and the owner won’t have to worry about litigation.
5. Discrimination against employees
Charges can be issued because of perceived discrimination due to age, race, gender identity, sex, pregnancy status, religion, or disability, such as in cases of wrongful termination or lack of overtime pay. Employees sometimes file whistleblower lawsuits too, but those are less common, Willis said. U.S.-based small and midsize business have a 12% chance of an employee suing them, according to Insurance Journal.
The Americans with Disabilities Act forbids discrimination against anyone with a disability in the workplace, public life, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
6. Discrimination against customers
Refusing to satisfy a customer due to their age, race, gender identity, sex, religion or disability falls under this type of civil case. An example would be a bakery owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Another big workplace issue, harassment, includes bullying, sexual harassment (like telling off-color jokes or romantically pursuing an employee), physical attacks and psychological aggravation. Sexual harassment is reported more now with the #MeToo momentum.
8. Employee injury or sickness
As long as the issue happened at work or is related to work, workers’ compensation should cover the costs. Never skimp on workers’ compensation, as the costs in fines and punishment (potentially including jail time) can be hefty depending on the state. [Read related article: Workers’ Compensation: What SMBs Need to Know]
9. Intellectual property rights
Whether it’s your logo, an image you found on the web or the name of your business, another company may say you stole from them. You may then be held legally accountable.
Read more: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15204-common-business-lawsuits.html