In opening your small business enterprise, you take a huge deal of risk and stress. One of the gravest issues that can affect a small business owner is the threat of crippling litigation, at which point a business litigation attorney might be needed, often at great cost. In addition to taking you by surprise, legal headaches can hurt your business severely.
While lawsuits are a hassle for all companies and people, small business owners bear the greatest risk. Here are some statistics that paint a clear picture of the present legal environment for every small business owner:
- An average small business that earns $1 million annually spends roughly $20,000 on lawsuits each year
- Small businesses pay approximately $20 million annually in tort liability costs
- 75% of every small business owner in America is worried that he or she might be a target of an unfair or frivolous lawsuit
- Since 1950, tort costs in the United States have grown considerably higher compared to GDP.
Having looked at the above important legal facts and statistics affecting small enterprises, let us now look at the 5 common issues faced by small businesses that only a lawyer can resolve:
#1: Harassment/Discrimination Cases
The legal ramifications of an alleged discrimination – age, ethnic, sexual, etc, can cause serious problems for your small business. Consequently, make sure that your legal and human resources are adequately equipped to handle such issues in case they arise.
For instance, during the hiring process, ensure you’re always prepared with all resumes of an applicant so that you’re certain you are hiring the most qualified candidate regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender.
#2: Patent and Copyright Issues
Innovative companies within the technology industry normally face hostile patent litigation. Often, companies sit on patents for many years in the hope that another organization will violate this patent, thus providing them with an avenue to obtain easy money through copyright and patent lawsuits. During the product development phase of your small business, ensure that your development and research teams research thoroughly the copyrights and patents of your present product in order to avoid messy legal battles.
#3: Immigration audits
Always ensure that all employees of your business have the necessary papers to work in the country. You must conduct top down sweeps of all your staff by using background checks in order to identify illegal immigrants that have falsified documents. In United States, the government conducts extensive surprise audits which can cripple your business should you be harboring illegal labor.
#4: Dissatisfied clients
Dissatisfied clients can file countless class action lawsuits whereby they sue your business over faulty promises, services, or products. By gathering large consumer groups, dissatisfied clients can do serious damage to your business through class action lawsuits. Such lawsuits can go a long way in irreparably tarnishing the image of your brand.
Again, you must be proactive. Always keep a finger on your client’s pulse through e-mails, online message boards, and tech support. You must promptly issue recalls for any flawed products. Always address your customers’ issues promptly.
#5: Disgruntled employees
As a small business owner, the issue of disgruntled employees is surely the elephant in the room. In some countries, employees enjoy more rights compared to others, in terms of reasons for ‘wrongful termination’ and unions. If you must terminate the contract of a non-performing employee, ensure that she or he signs documents drafted by a contract attorney. That way, the terms of dismissal will always be crystal clear. By letting an employee go without final termination certainly leaves the door open for countless legal actions.
The threats that litigation poses to small businesses is something that must be treated with utmost care and attention. The size and number of potential lawsuits that your business can face hugely outweigh its ability to fight back. While large corporations can afford the money and time needed in litigation, small business owners are limited in these areas. To be on the safe side, you must not only take precautionary steps such as hiring a small business lawyer NYC but also stay informed at always.