There are few things worse in this world than having someone sue your company for something - anything. But, what actually makes getting sued worse is getting sued without a lawyer. Personal injury protection is big business and for good reason. While there are many honest and decent companies out there, there are also many unethical businesses trying to profit at their employees’ and consumers’ expense. You’re one of the good guys and you need a good defense. Here’s how to get it.
Every email, report, memo, personal letter, and any other correspondence needs to be documented and filed. You should keep incident reports on file for every accident that an employee is involved in. Don’t just take the statement of the injured employee either, take statements from all employees involved and those who personally witnessed it.
Understand Intellectual Property Basics
Understand intellectual property laws before you try to copyright or trademark your logo or any company materials. You don’t want to run into a legal problem after the fact. You also want to avoid having others steal your business name, logo, or trademark.
Protect All Of Your Files
Password-protect all of your files and store them offline, if possible. If that’s not possible, or if it’s not practical, then use a network attached storage device (NAS drive) and create remote backups to an off-site location.
In fact, you can’t have too many backups, so consider redundant backups with at least three 3rd party service providers and an offline backup that you keep updated on a regular basis.
Create An SOP
An SOP is a “standard operating procedure,” and it’s something every business needs. It’s an employee handbook of sorts. It outlines the company’s vision, its mission, what you expect from employees, and what they can expect from you. It’s also a way to communicate your company’s rules and procedures in a clear and objective manner.
Prevention is always better than dealing with a problem after the fact. Accidents happen, so it’s important to make sure you’re taking steps to reduce or eliminate potential risks so that you can ensure the overall safety of your workplace for both customers and your employees.
Hire An Attorney
Why would you hire an attorney before you need one? Well, because, if you spend some time reading websites like meltzertaylor.com, you’ll quickly figure out that the only time you’ll hear from a personal injury lawyer is when someone is actively suing you. That’s not the time to scramble for legal council.
No, you want to be protected long before then. Meeting with an attorney about accident risk reduction, avoiding potential employer negligence lawsuits, and tweaking your business structure to minimize personal risk are all things that lawyers can do for you before a customer or vindictive employee has an incentive to rake you over the coals.
A lawyer is also helpful when it comes to contracts, debt collection, and business expansion. For example, if you pick up a new business client, and the client (vendor) has a unique contract you’ve never seen before, it’s a good idea to run it by your lawyer to get his professional opinion before you sign anything.
Likewise, you may have one corporate structure now, but expanding into a new service area might warrant a reorganization of your company into multiple holding companies.
And, what about that customer who hasn’t paid his invoice for the last 6 months? You need someone who can go to bat for you in court and help you collect the money that’s rightfully yours. In other words, don’t wait to get a lawyer. Do whatever you have to to put one on retainer yesterday.
Communicate With Employees and Customers
Sometimes, the best way to avoid a lawsuit is to keep the lines of communication open. Having regular monthly meetings, sitting down and having “fireside chats” with employees after hours, or initiating a mediation between you and a disgruntled employee may just diffuse a potentially explosive situation.
So, for example, if you receive an incident report documenting that this employee was injured on the job, even while following the SOP, it’s time to have a sit-down chat with him or her. Why? Because, you want to know what’s happening with the employee. Ignoring a problem never makes it go away. In many cases, it only festers until you receive the dreaded letter in the mail calling you into court.