If you own a business – in Florida or any other state – you probably already know that every business owner is a target for lawsuits. The largest companies, in fact, keep full-time business attorneys on staff to deal with the numerous lawsuits that are routinely filed against those companies.

If you own a business in the state of Florida, what kinds of lawsuits can you expect to face? Are there ways that you can prevent legal trouble before it starts? And who can you rely on to provide the legal help that a business owner is inevitably going to need?

The most common lawsuits that business owners here in Florida are likely to face will be:

  • lawsuits that deal with intellectual property disputes
  • premises liability lawsuits when someone claims to have been injured on your property
  • employee lawsuits that charge you with discrimination or wage-and-hour violations
  • product liability lawsuits charging you with producing hazardous, defective merchandise

HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE AN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWSUIT?

Intellectual property or “IP” law deals with the protection of patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.

If you are accused of stealing – or of using without permission – another company’s intellectual property, you’ll probably be targeted by a lawsuit, and you’ll need a good business attorney working in your defense.

settling out of court

Intellectual property cases can usually be settled out of court – especially if you are not actually guilty of IP theft or if the whole incident was the result of a mistake or a misunderstanding.

If you believe that someone has stolen your company’s intellectual property – or that someone is using your intellectual property without your consent – consult a Daytona Beach business attorney to discuss your legal options.

Your business attorney can also help you obtain patents and copyrights, register your trademarks, and protect your company’s intellectual property in the future.

HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE A PREMISES LIABILITY LAWSUIT?

Property owners are obligated to maintain a relatively safe environment so that people who come onto the property do not suffer injuries. This responsibility is known as “premises liability,” which holds property owners liable for accidents and injuries that occur on their property.

Exactly what you are liable for depends on factors including but not limited to who the visitor was and the nature of the hazard that injured the visitor. If someone is injured, you may be found liable for their medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even their attorney’s fees.

injuries on property

Stay on top of property maintenance, and purchase adequate liability insurance to protect your business and premises. If you own a smaller business, general liability coverage protects both your personal assets and your business from being seized if a judgment is made against you.

HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE EMPLOYEE LAWSUITS?

Ignoring complaints about discrimination, harassment, or wage-and-hour issues is an easy way to trigger a lawsuit. Establish anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies for your business, and set a tone that discourages discrimination and harassment. A good business lawyer can help.

A business which can prove that it takes discrimination and harassment seriously has a much stronger case if an employee takes you to court. You may even want to include clauses in your employment contracts that clarify your policies regarding harassment and discrimination.

Workers who believe that they have not been paid properly, who claim that they have been denied breaks, or who claim that they have been forced to work off the clock may pursue alleged violations of state and federal labor laws with wage-and-hour lawsuits.

Keeping accurate and comprehensive records is the best way to protect your business against a wage-and-hour lawsuit. A casual or lackadaisical approach to keeping records and to staying abreast of details is an open invitation to anyone who wants to file a lawsuit against you.

HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE A PRODUCT LIABILITY LAWSUIT?

If your business sells any kind of consumer products to the general public, the design and the manufacturing of those products must be closely monitored and supervised so that the product does not pose a hazard to consumers when it is used properly and as intended.

Product liability law is exceedingly complicated, so you must have an experienced business attorney’s help as soon as possible if you are targeted with a product liability lawsuit.

legal gavel

Your attorney will investigate a product liability claim against you and look for weaknesses, flaws, inconsistencies, or outright falsehoods in the complaint.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS?

Business owners should consider requiring formal employment contracts that include nondisclosure and non-compete agreements. You should have your business lawyer explain the advantages of employment contracts and draft those contracts for you in the future.

In fact, you should have an experienced Central Florida business attorney review all of your business contracts and other important documents. Never sign a business agreement or contract unless and until you know precisely what you are agreeing to.

singing personnel paperwork

As your business expands, it is going to need appropriate personnel and human resource policies. The right personnel policies put solutions in place before personnel problems can become legal problems.

As you may know, most business disputes are resolved out-of-court by the attorneys for both sides in private negotiations. The right practices and policies will provide quick solutions and will prevent costly, unnecessary lawsuits from being filed against you.

HOW CAN A BUSINESS LAW FIRM IN DAYTONA BEACH HELP?

A reliable business attorney can help you draft a business plan, an employee handbook, and all of the additional documents that you’ll need to protect your business and keep small difficulties from becoming big legal problems.

A business attorney can also offer training and legal advice to your supervisors and managers regarding discrimination and harassment laws and policies. You will receive the sound legal advice, representation, and services that every business owner in the state of Florida needs.

When you own a business, you need quick, out-of-court resolutions that let you focus on business instead of problems. You’ve worked hard to create and maintain your business. Protect it.

Let a reliable business lawyer review all of your potential legal risks and help you implement practical solutions to potential legal problems before those problems can do damage to your business.

By: Melody Lankford
After graduating from Davidson College, Melody Lankford earned her J.D. from Florida State University’s College of Law in 2004 and was admitted to the Florida Bar that same year. Ms. Lankford joined Raydon Corporation as in-house counsel in 2004. She worked there until 2012, when she founded the Lankford Law Firm. She is an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney who offers sound legal counsel and experience-based insights to her business clients.